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Before Christmas Julie Chang, a PHD student at UCL, and Shayne Rivers, an independent conservator specialising in lacquer,  came to the Tankerdale workshop to discuss and tell the story of the Chinese lacquer screen from Powis Castle in Wales. Gareth Sandham, Powis’ House and Collections Manager, also attended to film Julie explaining what the story depicted on the screen meant. 

Julie told us that the panels show the story of General Guo Ziyi’s 80th birthday celebrations. He was a highly celebrated general during the Tang dynasty who lived to the great age of 86 (697-781) and because of this is a symbol of longevity. The scenes of celebration show figures playing traditional musical instruments and drinking which can also symbolise prosperity. His story was popular during the Ming and Qing dynasties as he also symbolised luck, wealth and fame.  

It is possible that this piece was originally made for the domestic Chinese market rather then for export as the imagery would have held much significance and importance for a Chinese patron or owner. The screen is currently dated from between the late 17th and early 18th, the story  was very popular during the Huangsi Emperor’s reign of the same period. This is also the period in which Chinese lacquer was being exported to Europe. 

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Sissinghurst Coromandel Lacquer Cabinet

On 9th November 2015 Tankerdale had a visit from Julie Chang down from UCL, to take some samples from the early 18th Century Coromandel Cabinet, which is currently being conserved in the workshop. We took high magnification images of the sample areas that will be used by Julie towards her PHD research on Coromandel Lacquer at UCL.

Samples were taken from the black lacquer, incised decoration and the foundation layer, which we hope will give further specifics in what makes up the lacquer.

For more information about Julie’s practice and research at UCL please see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/people/research/chang

Sissinghurst Coromandel Lacquer Cabinet