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  ¡ñThe pattern of flowing clouds and divine animals

    The ¡°pattern of flowing clouds and divine animals¡± is a name used in Annals of Eastern Han Dynasty to record a pattern on lacquer works, referring to the pattern of flowing clouds with divine animals added. According to Annals of Han Dynasty: The Book of Rites, ¡°The bells, the divine animals and people all take part in the rite.¡± Annals of Eastern Han Dynasty: The Book of Carriage and Attire also records that the empress dowager¡¯s carriage ¡°is painted with the pattern of flowing clouds and divine animals¡±. This pattern is sometimes abbreviated as the pattern of divine animals. The most common divine animal that appears in this pattern is one with antlers. This is perhaps the divine animal that is frequently referred to as ¡°xu¡± by the people of the Han Dynasty. The inscriptions on bronze mirrors from the Han Dynasty say ¡°xu¡± is a divine animal that can ¡°exorcise demons¡±, ¡°drive away ill omens¡±, ¡°prolong life¡±, and ¡°extends happiness for eternity¡±. Therefore, it is considered as a mascot and painted on all kinds of utensils for birth and burial so as to bless the living and the dead, to keep them safe and bring them luck. (Picture Twenty) The pattern of flowing clouds and divine animals was very popular during the Han Dynasty and continued for almost one thousand years when it was still used for decoration in the Sui Dynasty.

  ¡ñChinese catalpa

    The Chinese catalpa, also named ¡°small-leaf phoenix tree¡±, is a deciduous tree and a well-known decorative plant. It is also one of the first high-quality timbers used widely by us. Many Han Tombs used Chinese catalpa wood for coffin. This kind of timber is particularly good at withstanding corrosion. After one or two thousand years, coffins made of Chinese catalpa are still firm like new and can still produce sonorous sound when knocked.


    Embossment is a lacquer-coating technique that calls for applying lacquer or lacquer paste onto the base to form ridged patterns for carving and polishing. The Record of Lacquer-Coating describes embossment as ¡°the patterns are ridged for carving, with relief and intaglio intermingled¡±. The bright colors ¡°are inclusive of all shades¡±, as noted by Yang. The specific method is to apply lacquer paste or oil-added color mixture to form the embossment, and then use a tool similar to a spray gun to squeeze out lacquer liquid to form relief lines, not unlike the embossment used in latter dynasty frescos. This Coffin with Painted Design on Black Lacquer Coating adopted this method, with the result that the contour lines of the cloud patterns and the cloud patterns themselves are obviously ridged from the base lacquer to create stereoscopic effect.

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