Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 395, Issue 7, pp 2167–2174 | Cite as

Applying pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to the identification of oriental lacquers: study of two lacquered shields

  • José Carlos Frade
  • Maria Isabel Ribeiro
  • José Graça
  • José Rodrigues
Original Paper


Oriental lacquers have been used as coating materials for thousands of years for wooden, ceramics, leather and metal objects. Lacquers are natural polymers obtained from three species growing in different regions of Asia: Rhus vernicifera (China, Japan and Korea); Rhus succedanea (Vietnam and Taiwan); and Melanorrhoea usitate (Myanmar and Thailand). The identification of lacquer films is important for conservation and restoration purposes, as well as for art history studies because it may help in determining the origin of the lacquered objects. In this work, pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry using a filament-type pyrolyser was successfully applied to the characterization of oriental lacquers. A method to identify the three kinds of lacquer was developed and applied to the study of two lacquered shields imported from Asia in the sixteenth century. The materials that constitute the shields were also examined by Fourier-transform infrared microspectroscopy and details of the lacquering technique are reported.


Two lacquered shields of unknown origin imported from Asia in the 16th century


Oriental lacquer Rhus vernicifera Rhus succedanea Melanorrhoea usitate Py-GC/MS FTIR-μs 



The authors wish to acknowledge Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia for financial support (PhD grant SFRH/BD/27573/2006) and Professor Miyakoshi from Meiji University for the lacquer references.


  1. 1.
    Kumanotani J (1995) Prog Org Coat 26:163–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Niimura N, Miyakoshi T, Onodera J, Higuchi T (1996) J Anal Appl Pyrol 37:199–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Webb M (2000) Lacquer: technology and conservation. Butterworth–Heinemann, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Shôno-Sládek M (1994) The splendor of Urushi: the lacquer art collection at the Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne. Inventory catalogue with reflexions on cultural history. Museum of East Asian Art, CologneGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Leiria L (2001) BPJS 3:9–26Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Abreu P (2005) Namban urushi objects in Portugal. The great family of Portuguese-Oriental furniture. In: National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (eds) The Role of Urushi in International Exchange. The 27th International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, 3rd–5th December 2003, Tokyo, JapanGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Carvalho PM, In: Carvalho PM (ed) O mundo da Laca, 2000 anos de história. Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, LisboaGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lu R, Kamiya Y, Miyakoshi T (2006) Talanta 70:370–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chiavari G, Prati S (2003) Chromatographia 58:543–554Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Shedrinsky A, Baer NS (2007) In: Wampler TP (ed) Applied pyrolysis handbook, 2nd edn. CRC, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Niimura N, Miyakoshi T, Onodera J, Higuchi T (1996) Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 10:1719–1724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Niimura N, Miyakoshi T (2003) J Mass Spectrom Soc Jpn 51:439–457Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chiavari G, Mazzeo R (1999) Chromatographia 49:268–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    He L, Nie MQ, Chiavari G, Mazzeo R (2007) Microchem J 85:347–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gerrard AF, Djerassi C (1969) J Am Chem Soc 91:6808–6814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Derrick MR, Stulik D, Landry JM (1999) Infrared spectroscopy in conservation science. Getty Conservation Institute, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bellamy LJ (1975) The infra-red spectra of complex molecules. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lu R, Kamiya Y, Miyakoshi T (2007) J Anal Appl Pyrol 78:172–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Niimura N, Miyakoshi T (2006) Talanta 70:146–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Carlos Frade
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria Isabel Ribeiro
    • 1
  • José Graça
    • 3
  • José Rodrigues
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto dos Museus e da ConservaçãoLaboratório José de FigueiredoLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Tropical Research Institute of PortugalForestry and Forest Products GroupLisboaPortugal
  3. 3.Centro de Estudos Florestais, Departamento de Engenharia FlorestalInstituto Superior de AgronomiaLisboaPortugal

Personalised recommendations