Produced in Okinawa’s unique subtropical environment, Ryukyu lacquerware is characterized by the vividness of its contrasting blacks and reds. Okinawa fortunately possesses the fine native woods ideal for lacquerware including deigo, suitable for serving trays and bowls because it rarely becomes deformed or cracked; sendan (chinaberry tree) with a beautiful grain; and banyan trees. Ryukyu lacquerware is produced using various sophisticated techniques. For example, in products known as chinpin, powdered gold is inlaid in lacquerware, creating beautiful patterns. Although cheap, mass-produced lacquerware is sold at reasonable prices at souvenir shops, artisans still employ the traditional technique of the Ryukyu Kingdom era, making each piece by hand.
Left: Raden is a technique in which mother-of-pearl from great green turban shells is inlaid in the surface of lacquerware.
Right: Tsuikin — a unique decorative technique of the Ryukyus — makes the colors applied even brighter as they age.