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Iridescent Accents

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Adeeni Design Group

The Ancient Egyptians were using mother of pearl in at least 4200 BC, pieces have been found in pyramids and tombs of the ruling classes. From archaeological evidence, we know that mother of pearl was also used by the Mesopotamians as far back as 2500 BC. It became popular in China during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), although it had been in use in China much earlier during the Bronze Age of the Shang dynasty (1500-1050 BC).

Within Asia, origins however remain comparatively obscure. Its workshops mostly unrecorded, its designers unknown. Dating of pieces is possible only from the designs of decorative motifs, such as dragons and peonies, and from their background motifs. Most of the forms of Chinese furniture, such as the low table and the covered bed, are found in the oldest Chinese paintings in existence.

The most important historically in this class are black lacquer pieces inlaid with mother-of-pearl that have been preserved in the imperial repository (Shōsō-in) in Japan from the 8th century. Of the red lacquers, such as seats and tables, the earliest pieces date from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644); their workmanship is characterized by softer contours and freer, more spirited designs than the later pieces of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911/12). These lacquered objects influenced European cabinetmakers.

Tara Wenzel


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