Before looking into the subject, I have always thought that 琉璃 “liu li” is only a posher name for glass 玻璃 “bo li”.  Unlike the ordinary glass “liu li” is a precious material, one of the 7 treasures of musaragalva, agate, liu li, amber, pearl and musk.

“liu li” is in fact a totally different material and is produced with an entirely different technique.  The technique of “liu li” production has been used in China for over 2000 years, it is believed to be an accidental discovery during early lead making.  In the process of making oxidized lead, a glaze like substance is found to be attached to the clay kiln, a further firing of the glaze with quartz became the early formula of liu li.  Unlike glass, “liu li” is opaque and formed by a laborious task of casting and sanding.


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