Burmese lacquerware has been used since the Bagan period stretching back almost a millennium. The technique probably originated in China, and there has been exchanges of methods and designs between China, Burma and Thailand (especially Lanna/Chiang Mai). Lacquer has not been used in Burma to produce paintings, such as is being done in Vietnam, but it has been used to create everyday objects, in particular betel boxes, though also more refined objects for use by monks and in the temples, and even by Royalty. It was noted by colonial Europeans that the best pieces of lacquerware seem to originate from the Shan State, and some of them were presented as gifts to visiting envoys and even to the Emperor of China. The very best lacquerware pieces may be considered along with the pinnacle of Southeast Asian art such as Indonesian textiles or Khmer sculptures. Burmese or Myanmar lacquerware is still under-researched. It has become more difficult to find best quality pieces in Burma. Since the publication of three books on the subject, publicity in the West has created an interest in and demand for these unique, beautifully crafted works. Please note that the lacquerboxes sold at Thavibu Gallery are of exceptional quality and cannot be compared to average quality works that are readily available in the market.
Visions From The Golden Land: Burma and the Art of Lacquer by Ralph Isaacs and Richard Blurton
Burmese Lacquer Ware by Sylvia Fraser-Lu
Lacquerware Journeys: The Untold Story of Burmese Lacquer by Than Htun