We have launched a new website and are reviewing this page. Find out more
Open daily 10.00 to 17.45 Admission free Menu


Lacquer (urushi) has been used to produce both utilitarian objects and works of art in Japan for millennia. Japanese lacquer is made from the sap of the Rhus vernicifera (Toxicodendron vernix) tree, a species of the family Anacardiaceae. Sap is harvested, processed, and then used to create lacquer objects. Useful information about the preparation and application of lacquer can be found at the following websites:

Lacquer background and decoration: how was it made?

In order to understand the lacquering processes used on the Mazarin Chest, several very small samples were taken for microscopic analysis. The purpose of the microscopy was to identify the materials used in the making of the chest, to identify and understand the nature of past western restorations, to ascertain the stratigraphy of the foundation and black lacquer layers, and to help understand the manufacturing techniques employed. Microscopy under visible and UV light were used to examine the samples (prepared as either cross sections or thin sections). X-ray fluorescence (XRF) was also undertaken to investigate the elemental composition of metal finishes and other decorative elements.


Click on the images for more information:

Become a V&A Member

V&A Members enjoy a wealth of benefits, including free entry to exhibitions, previews, exciting events and the V&A Members’ Room. In addition, you will be supporting the vital work of the V&A.

Buy or Renew Membership Online