Lacquer worker and turner
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a lacquer worker and turner in India, taken by an unknown photographer in c. 1873, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. This image was shown at the 1873 Vienna Universal Exhibition. The following description, taken from Baden Powell's Manufactures, and quoted in John Forbes Watson's catalogue of the Vienna exhibition, states, "The object to be lacquered is turned from hard wood, usually shisham [Dalbergia]or box. After being smoothed and cleaned it is again fixed in the turners' frame (a kind of lathe worked by hand), and made to rotate. The sticks of lacquer colour ("batti") consisting of a mixture of lac, resin, colouring matter, and, it is said, a certain proportion of sulphur and bees'-wax, are then applied to the rotating object; the heat produced by friction is sufficient to soften the lacquer composition, which attaches itself to the wood, producing however, a dull and streaky appearance. When sufficient colour has been applied, the surface of the article is skilfully rubbed with a piece of bamboo having a fine edge, by which the colour is evenly distributed, and a polish produced, which is finally completed with oiled rags."