The Kagawa Lacquer Ware Institute has specialized in three styles of lacquer decoration techniques-Kinma,Zonsei,and Choshitsu.
Decorative designs are engraved in fine lines on a black lacquer background,and the incised lines are filled with vermilion(red) lacquer,after which the surface is polished to make it flat and even.If other colors are to be used,the above process is repeated for each color.
Decorative designs are painted on the surface in colored lacquer and polished.Then outlines and details of the design,such as the veins of leaves,are incised and left untouched.The linear engraving around the edges of the colored areas enhances the design in a unique manner.
Decorative designs are carved on a solid layer of colored lacquer,which is built up by repeated application,sometimes more than 200 times.When only red or black lacquer is used,the design becomes monochromatic,but if several layers of various colors are well arranged and carved by a skillful artist,the polychrome strata fully reveal the graceful elegance of this artistry.
In all these styles,the traditional Oriental motifs of dragons,birds,leaves and flowers are well preserved.In addition,modern designs and new engraving techniques,such as the method of dot engraving,have allowed contemporary artists to explore subtler forms of expression.
Kagawa lacquer ware started at the end of the Edo period by "Tamakaji Zokoku"(1806-1869),a genius in craftsmanship and design.He developed and perfected there three techniques,which were brought to Japan around 14th century:Kinma from Thailand;Zonsei and Choshitsu from China.
In1952,Kinma and Zonsei were designated by the National Government as "intangible cultural properties".
It was in 1954 that the Kagawa Lacquer Ware Institute was established for the preservation and propagation of traditional lacquer artistry in Kagawa.
Ten students graduating from senior high schools or art colleges are admitted upon examination every year.During three years of special study,these students receive substantial training in the art of lacquer work,with rich opportunities to exercise their craftsmanship under the expert guidance of celebrated instructors,including those who are so-called"Living National Treasures".