For Chinese artists and designers boxes were always more than utilitarian objects. These containers used for trinkets jewelry and gaming were usually lacquered thickly until the surfaces could be cut and polished. Above lacquerware craftsmen created boxes using bone or filigreed sterling. It is believed that the European technique of Cloisonne was also a well-known method of treating Chinese boxes like similar ones like the niello.
The most fascinating features in Chinese boxes, apart from the variety of materials and methods used to create them they're not always square or rectangular. Chinese boxes are usually round and shallow, with smooth, intricately carved edges. Some boxes are lobated that resemble, for instance flowers-like pentagons that have protrusions that are rounded instead of a quaintet of acute angles. Also, there are Octagons, with their bases and covers typically feature curly sides that connect in the middle. This is where they can be opened to reveal the contents.
In Europe starting in 17th-century, two opposing words described the influence from Asian art on Western art. The first was chinoiserie, which is an French term that describes Chinese patterns across all kinds of architecture, from pottery. Another term was japanning. It specifically referred to lacquering techniques used in furnishings and other ornamental objects. The term japanning implied that the lacquering methods were developed in Japan and, in actual throughout the following centuries some scholars believed this to be true. It is now generally accepted that lacquerware was created in China and that its creators relocated to areas such as Japan as well as Korea to learn and practice their art.
The majority of lacquer boxes started with an armature of wooden in the case of large boxes or a stucco-like mud if the box was medium size or hemp if it was smaller. Numerous coats of lacquer sprayed to the armature, all of which needed to be dried before the next layer could be put on. In some cases, 200-300 layers were placed on a piece, each one was first sanded with charcoal ash, then followed by horn the ash. Carving and inlay was later and took a lot of time.
Chinese lacquer box were made from metals such as silver and copper were enameled for the cloisonne the technique that was brought from China via China from the Near East. Fine wire was used to separate the enamels on the exterior of the box, resulting in anything from delicate sprays of blooms to massive flame-throwing dragons. Indeed, many box cloisonnes made in China were designed to be exported to Europe specifically to fit the European perception of Chinese aesthetics and culture.