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Table 1 Summary of the available information about the materials and manufacturing process of Burmese lacquered objects decorated with the yun technique according to written sources [1, 4,5,6]

From: The evolution of the materials used in the yun technique for the decoration of Burmese objects: lacquer, binding media and pigments

Stratigraphy of layers Literature source
Burney 1832 [6] Fraser-Lu (1985, 1st edition) 2000 (2nd edition) [4] Isaac/Blurton 2000 [1] Than Htun 2013 [5]
Ground layer
tha-yo (Burney)
thayo (Fraser-Lu)
thayo (Isaac/Blurton)
thayoe (Than Htun)
p. 169: lacquer of lower quality with 50% water added
+ Filler
Ash of cow bone
Or ash of bran/husk of paddy (“most commonly used”)
Or ash of teak wood + spittle (“thick consistency, produces hard fill”)
Or ash of cow-dung (“adheres tenaciously, very pliable and elastic”)
p. 24–25: lacquer
+ Filler
clay (“1st coating”)
Or teak ash & glue from boiled rice (“2nd coating”)
Or cow dung ash + rice straw ash (“2nd coating, for finest work”)
Or powdered bone (2nd coating, for finest work”)
p. 34: lacquer
+ Filler
Ash (e.g. of cow bones)
Or clay
p. 32: lacquer
+ Filler
Cow dung (“year-old dung, cleaned (…) ground to obtain a pure powder, extremely sticky and strong, for 1st class ware”
or river Sediments + red earth (“for 2nd class ware”)
Or ash of groundnut hulls + dried straw (“used nowadays”)
Or sawdust
Finishing layer for plain black wares
theet-tsee (Burney)
thit-si (Fraser-Lu)
thit si (Isaac/Blurton)
sitse (Than Htun)
p. 169: lacquer of highest quality
Note: applied in three or more coats before further decoration is applied
p. 25: lacquer of good quality p. 35: lacquer p. 32: lacquer
hen-za-pa-da (Burney)
hin-thabada (Fraser-Lu)
hinthabada (Isaac/Blurton)
hinthapada (Than Htun)
red ochre:
myè-nee (Burney)
mye-ni (Fraser-Lu)
n/a (Isaac/Blurton)
myeni (Than Htun)
p. 171: vermillion (“from China, of the finest kind, does not mix well with lacquer”)
Or self-made vermillion (made by small number of local craftsmen, “preferred by the Burmese”)
Or red ochre (“Indian red”) (“gives a duller colour”, for cheaper ware, sometimes used as a 1st coat, over which vermillion is applied”)
+ Binder
Tung oil + lacquer (3:10) (“semi-transparent varnish”)
p. 171: (tung) oil (Shan-zee or Shan oil) from fruit of the kuniyen tree (Dipterocarpus turbinatus) (“from Laos, long drying time”)
+ p. 169: lacquer of slightly lesser quality with 25% water added
p. 25: vermillion/cinnabar (mercuric sulfide) (“imported from China”)
Or red ochre (“cheaper, for inferior wares”)
+ Binder
Lacquer + tung oil (shan-zi) from tree fruit of Aleurites triloba or Dipterocarpus turbinatus
+ Unspecified “special” additives
+ Barrier layer
p. 34: resin of neem (tama) tree (Azadirachta indica)
Or resin of acacia tree (Acacia farnesiana) (“glue (…) to seal the red colour within the engraved lines”)
p. 35–36: cinnabar (mercuric sulfide)
Or red ochre (more recently)
Or red paint (more recently)
+ Binder
Water + peanut oil + lacquer
+ Barrier layer
p. 37, 40: resin of acacia tree (htanaung) + water (= “gum Arabic”)
p. 29: mercuric sulfide
+ Binder
Peanut oil (Pyu period to 1700 and 1700 to 1900)
Or sesame oil (1900 to 1930)
(No lacquer mentioned)
+ Barrier layer
p. 28, 30: resin of acacia tree (htanaung, Acacia leucophloea) or resin of neem tree (= tamar tree)
n/a (Burney)
me-ne (Fraser-Lu)
n/a (Isaac/Blurton)
mene (Than Htun)
(No blue colourant mentioned) p. 26: indigo (Indigofera anil.)
(“Rarely used in traditional Burmese lacquer work, for the indigo does not combine well with the (…) raw lacquer, resulting in a rather dull finish”)
+ binder (no binder specified)
(No blue colourant mentioned) p. 29: Indigo
And/or madama bark
Or blue paint (more recently)
Or dye powder (more recently)
+ Binder (no binder specified)
+ Barrier layer
Resin of acacia tree (htanaung, Acacia leucophloea)
atsein (Burney)
n/a (Fraser-Lu)
n/a (Isaac/Blurton)
n/a (Than Htun)
p. 174: indigo + orpiment (1:10)
Or juice from leaf of plant called gwe-douk-beng + orpiment
+ Binder
Lacquer + tung oil (Shan-zee)
p. 27: indigo + orpiment (1:10)
Or p. 40: enamel paint (from late 80 s)
+ Binder (no binder specified)
p. 40: indigo + orpiment
Or mass-produced chemical colour
Or house paint (1980s)
+ Binder
p. 37: lacquer
p. 29: green (“minor colour, used since the 1850s”)
Or hinthapada + blue mene (so called England green powder) (from 1900 to 1930)
+ Binder (No binder specified)
+ Barrier layer
Resin of acacia tree (htanaung, Acacia leucophloea)
tshè-dan (Burney)
sei-dan (Fraser-Lu)
n/a (Isaac/Blurton)
saydan (Than Htun)
p. 174: orpiment (yellow sulfuret of arsenic)
+ Binder
lacquer + tung oil (Shan-zee)
+ Barrier layer
(no barrier layer mentioned)
p. 26: orpiment (arsenic trisulfide) (from Shan States)
p. 26: orpiment + vermillion
+ Binder
Gum of dammar
Or lacquer + tung oil (shan-zi)
p. 27: orpiment (arsenic trisulfide)
+ Binder
Lacquer (applied after barrier layer and engraving)
+ Barrier layer
Acacia tree glue (applied before engraving)
p. 29: orpiment (arsenic trisulfide) (1900 to 1930)
cinnabar + orpiment
+ Binder (no binder specified)
+ Barrier layer
Resin of acacia tree (htanaung, Acacia leucophloea)
Final coating Not specified p. 34: lacquer + a little tung oil None mentioned p. 33: lacquer + tung oil (1:3) (+ sesame oil) (in Bagan and Shan States (Laikha), between 1850s–1930s, rarely used after WWII due to being expensive)