The Enigma of Son Ta

When I started learning about son ta, l began by collecting myths and popular sayings about this medium related to its mysterious and paradoxical qualities and uses that lends itself to such mystical and/or enigmatic connotations. For example, as a process, son mai lacquer constitutes two equally important phases of production—the building up of lacquer paint and then the sanding away to create the final image--showing how construction and destruction are necessary parts of creation.  The final image is a synthesis of both phases, equally beholding traces of both parts, yet it is already something else, something more complete than the sum of its parts, but never revealing the method of its production.  Another curious attribute of son ta is its symbiosis to the rainy and wet local environment since it requires extremely high humidity in order for it to dry.  While working, a current of cold dry air blowing across the surface can render the resin defective, causing it to stay permanently moist and sticky.  Another, bizarre quality is that it only produces allergic reaction only to certain people, generating popular superstitions about it.  Other seductive pictorial attributes include its color and its use of precious metals.  The amber colored translucency of the resin, layered between textures of gold leaf and silver leaf, endows lacquered objects with a special inner light.