Some observations on the composition of Chinese lacquer

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Arlen Heginbotham; Julie Chang (張倚竹); Herant Khanjian; Michael R. Schilling;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number sup3, p.28-37 (2016)


This paper summarizes the various information that has been gathered in recent years at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Conservation Institute with regard to the organic constituents of Chinese lacquer formulations. While this summary of materials is by no means comprehensive or complete, it captures the current state of the authors’ knowledge, with the information itself and the bibliography intended to serve as a useful foundation from which further research may proceed. Considerable advances have been made in the last decade in the technique of pyrolysis-gas chromatography–mass spectrometry with thermally assisted hydrolysis and methylation using tetramethylammonium hydroxide and in subsequent data interpretation methodologies. These have dramatically improved the sensitivity and specificity of organic analysis. Perhaps equally important, these methodologies are allowing researchers to collaborate much more effectively and to share results that are truly comparable and reproducible. As more researchers participate and collaborate, and as more results are aggregated into shared databases, significant new insights into the methods and materials of Chinese lacquer are sure to follow.