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Chemical analysis of Southeast Asian lacquer collected in forests and workshops in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar

Chemical analysis of Southeast Asian lacquer collected in forests and workshops in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, with Hanna Szczepanowska (West Virginia University)

Date and Time: June 15, 2021, 9pm – 10pm EDT | 3pm – 4pm HT

Register here.

Lacquer has been used in practical, ornamental and ceremonial tools throughout Southeast Asia for centuries. In this study, we first recorded how to collect lacquer and how to use it in workshops in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. In addition, observation results in forests and workshops under study, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermal decomposition gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS), scanning electron microscope-energy dispersive type The analysis results of lacquer using X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) were combined and analyzed. Identified lacquer from three different species, including laccol from Vietnam’s Toxicodendron succedanea, Myanmar’s black tree (Gluta usitata) and Cambodia’s Cambodian lacquer (thitsiol). did. It also characterized some organic and inorganic additives. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the knowledge about regional differences in lacquer procurement and processing methods in Southeast Asia.

Bio: Dr. Hanna Szczepanowska is a material scientist specialized in analysis of cultural heritage material. Currently she is a professor at West Virginia University teaching a course in Technical Art History. She is also a Physical Scientist at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington DC. During her 4-year contract in Singapore she established at Singapore’s National Heritage Board a research laboratory and analytical research program for the collection of Southeast Asian artifacts. She had previously worked for 14 years at the Smithsonian Institution, and was also an adjunct professor at George Washington University, Washington DC. Hanna has a Masters degree in conservation from the University of Nicolaus Copernicus in Torun, Poland, and PhD from the University of Lyon, France, in material science. She authored a handbook, Conservation of Cultural Heritage: Key Principles and Approaches, Routledge 2012.

Part of the Smithsonian Institution and Meiji University Museum Seminar Series.


Jun 15 2021


Time stated in HST.
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

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