How Scantech’s 3D Scanner Helps Preserve the Yi Lacquerware Technique

How Scantech’s 3D Scanner Helps Preserve the Yi Lacquerware Technique

Sep 08, 2023

Lacquerware is a traditional craft that has been practised by the Yi ethnic group in China for centuries. It is a unique form of art that reflects their culture, history, and aesthetics.

However, with the rapid development of modern society, this intangible cultural heritage is facing the risk of fading away.

To protect and promote this precious art, Scantech, a company that specializes in manufacturing portable 3D scanners, has joined the team of Alibaba Group’s programme “GIFTS FROM COUNTIES” to create digital replicas of Yi lacquerware from Xide County.

We used digital technology to create 3D digital collections of many exquisite lacquerware pieces. Jiwu Wuqie, a national intangible cultural heritage holder of Yi lacquerware techniques and Jiwu Wuga, a provincial intangible cultural heritage holder, joined the team to preserve the unique beauty of this intangible cultural heritage.


What is Yi Lacquerware?

Yi lacquerware is a type of wooden vessel that is coated with natural lacquer and painted with various patterns. Lacquerware is an essential part of Yi people’s life and work.

The Yi lacquerware has a distinctive tri-colour pattern: black, red, and yellow. These colors are derived from natural minerals and resins and have different meanings for the Yi people.

Black represents solemnity and respect, red represents courage and passion, and yellow represents beauty and brightness. The patterns on the lacquerware are also full of symbolism and creativity.

They depict the sun, moon, stars, mountains, rivers, animals, plants, myths, legends, and daily scenes. The patterns are drawn with fine brushes, creating stunning and original artwork that can last for a long time.


How does Scantech’s Portable 3D Scanner Help Preserve Yi Lacquerware?

Solution: KSCAN-Magic composite 3D scanner + iReal 3D mapping software


Using the KSCAN-Magic portable laser 3D scanner from Scantech, we collected 3D data of lacquerware including pagoda boxes, pigeon-shaped wine pots, tea sets, large lacquer vases, and various items.

By 3D scanning the lacquerware with different modes and angles, the portable 3D laser scanner KSCAN-Magic captured the precise shape and pattern of each piece. Then, the engineer took photos of the lacquerware to map their colours and textures later.


The point cloud data was then imported into the iReal 3D Mapping Software to reconstruct their intricate details and vibrant colors with references to photos. Beautiful and vivid 3D models were created.


How to 3D Scan Objects: Pagoda Box

The pagoda box has multiple layers that resemble a pagoda, each layer having a different function and design. The box is also decorated with various patterns and motifs. These features make it tricky to 3D scan the box to obtain an accurate 3D model.

One of the challenges is to capture its complex geometries as it has many curved surfaces. Besides, its black surfaces and lacquer coating can interfere with the light source of the scanner.

Dark colours absorb too much light, while shiny surfaces reflect and disperse it too much. This can result in missing data points or inaccurate scans that require more time and effort to correct the errors.

Scantech’s high-resolution 3D scanner KSCAN-Magic is capable of 3D scanning dark surfaces and reflective surfaces. It provides high-resolution 3D data, which is up to 0.010 mm, with faster scan speed. The scanning results are shown as below:

Pagoda Box

How to 3D Scan Objects: Three-piece Teacup Set

Three-piece Teacup Set consists of a teapot, a teacup, and a saucer. The set has many fine and intricate details that can be hard to capture with a low-resolution scanner.

Fine details are small features that require a high level of precision and accuracy, while intricate details are complex features that require a high level of detail and clarity.


KSCAN-Magic is a composite 3D scanner that integrates infrared and blue lasers in one versatile instrument. It can capture precise 3D data of complex and fine details thanks to its hyper-fine 3D scanning.

The engineer 3D scanned Yi’s lacquerware three-piece teacup set with an accuracy of up to 0.020 mm and generated complete 3D models.


Moreover, our technical team also obtained high-accuracy 3D data of various Yi lacquerware items, such as flat wine pots, flower vases, teapots, sunspots, saddles, etc.

Using our iReal 3D Mapping Software, we extracted features and structures from lacquerware texture images, mapped textures and rendered effects that matched the appearance.

In this way, we restored realistic textures and colors of the actual object. With our 3D digital solution, it was efficient to collect the data and create 3D models of Yi lacquerware, saving a lot of time and costs.

Our solutions were ideal for restoring this exquisite lacquerware and displaying these cultural digital collectables.

How to 3D Scan Objects Three-piece Teacup Set

How to Support Yi Lacquerware?

Alibaba Public Welfare has recently launched a digital collectable project featuring 3D digitized Yi lacquerware. Every time a customer collects a piece of digital lacquerware, Alibaba will donate to protect the intangible cultural heritage of the Yi lacquerware technique.

The digital preservation project aims to enhance the exhibition experience, revitalize intangible cultural heritage, and enable more people to enjoy the enchanting beauty of Yi lacquerware from their homes.


Read the following articles to learn more:

High-precision Color 3D Modeling Solutions, Which is the Most Suitable One for You?

High-tech 3D Scanning Helps Restore 3000-Year-Old Crushed Cultural Relics

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