The Culture of Lacquerware

Yi Lacquerware

Almost every Nuosu home, from the most remote village to the most urban of apartments, will have at least one piece of lacquer ware to use for special occasions. Perhaps the most famous item is the Nuosu wine jug, known for the mysterious way it is filled—there’s no lid! The jug itself may be in many different shapes, but the interior design is the same. The liquid (wine or other alcohol) is poured in through a small hole in the bottom of the jug. This is connected to a pipe that extends halfway up the interior of the jug. When you turn the jug upright again, the pipe prevents the liquid from running out the bottom hole, and the beverage can then be poured through the spout like any other jug. Let your guests marvel at how you get wine into a lidless container!

These products are safe to use on a daily basis, but should be treated with care. A gentle wiping with a damp cloth will preserve their beauty for years to come. Due to the design of the wine jugs, only water or alcoholic liquids should be used, as they are difficult to clean inside.

For more information regarding Nuosu lacquerware, you may refer to Dr. Stevan Harrell’s website:

He also authored a book with Bamo Qubumo and Ma Erzi (both Nuosu) called “Mountain Patterns: The Survival of Nuosu Culture in China” which is readily available from, etc. It talks about lacquer ware as well as other artistic and cultural aspects of the Nuosu, including clothing and music.



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