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Two Dishes


Not on view

Made from tree sap, lacquer was one of the earliest inventions of East Asia. Its use in southeast China can be traced to the Neolithic period. Although raw lacquer is toxic, it is harmless when dry, and its remarkable resistance to water, acid, and heat makes it ideal for culinary utensils.

This group represents a set of tablewares for individual use, reflecting dining etiquette of the Han period. Each person had his or her own low table on which a tray of vessels for food and drink was placed. Guests did not sit around one large table, as they do today.

Two Dishes, Lacquer over wood, China

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