Nowhere in the world is the diversity and availability of lacquer arts more evident than in Vietnam, with a range that spans Saigon museum pieces to holiday ornaments. Following a French lacquer painting class in 1930, lacquer painting in Vietnam developed into a technique that combined both traditional Asian and European styles. The Fine Arts Museum of Ho Chi Minh City and many shops and galleries in the city have wonderful lacquer pieces on display.
You don't need to wander far in Saigon to find lacquer objects. In Vietnam lacquer arts have had a long tradition. More than 2,000 years ago, during the Dong Son period, the Viets already knew how to process raw lacquer for making useful things. Found in ancient tombs in northern Vietnam, many household and cult objects were decorated with pictures and then coated with lacquer. As far back as the Ly dynasty or even earlier, lacquer was widely used in the ornamentation of palaces, communal halls, temples, pagodas and shrines. Lacquer techniques were always kept secret and handed down within artisan clans, from fathers to children.
Artists Tran Van Can, Pham Hau and Nguyen Gia Tri pioneered the development of lacquer techniques. Another generation of artists, such as Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Le Quoc Loc and Sy Ngoc has put its stamp on the value of Vietnamese lacquer art. Be sure to stop by The Fine Arts Museum of Ho Chi Minh City to check out examples of lacquer art.