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    A piece of lacquer-painted wooden vessel
   A lacquer-painted basket
Right : a reproduction
         of the comb above
    A lacquered comb

The Use of Lacquer - japan

         In 1975, an exquisite and elaborate ornamental comb, nine cm long, and painted vivid scarlet with japan, was discovered in a Jomon stratum of shells in the Torihama shell mound in Mikata-machi, Mikata-gun, Fukui Prefecture.  At the same time pots and wooden vessels and bows, all painted with red lacquer and black lacquer, were excavated.  Investigation told that they were from the Early Stage of the Jomon Period (Zenki), around BC 4000-3000, and that lacquer-painting skill had already reached a very advanced stage in Japan.
         The process of lacquer painting is complex, and both learning and practicing take much labor and time.  Jomon people could afford to take time and labor to improve a skill which was not immediately needed for their survival.  Their life seems to have been more stable and affluent than was generally imagined.