Developed over the last 7,000 years, urushi or Japanese lacquer is made with toxic sap, powdered metals, bits of shell, and months or years of patient labor. Cultivated from the lacquer tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum or formerly Rhus verniciflua)--a relative of poison oak--lacquer is extremely durable, is resistant to moisture, and has an incomparable natural gloss. It may be painted, carved, and molded; lending itself to a wide range of artistic expression.
© Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Used by permission