JEOLLA DO BANDAJI – 전라도 반닫이

JEOLLA DO” the southwestern province of the peninsula is divided into two sub-regions; North Jeolla with the city of JEONJU as capital and South Jeolla with GWANGJU as main city.

JEOLLA DO south western province of Korea.
JEOLLA DO Province.

The province, which is partially mountainous, is home to warmer weather on the peninsula. This climate helps produce a large amount of agricultural products.

The northern part of the region was a center for producing fruits such as peaches and persimmons, while many pears grew in the southern part. The wood from these fruit trees was frequently used as veneer or to build frames to support front panels on ‘JANG’ but was rarely used on heavy Bandaji.

A famous piece, collected by Wright Edward Reynolds, who later published ‘Korean Furniture, Elegance & Tradition,’ was entirely built from thick persimmon panels and is now on display at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis (Check the photo in the ‘Feature image at the top of this post’).

Persimmon was seldom used to build such thick pieces but was favored as a veneer on ‘JANG,’ as were all fruit trees.

Somewhere in JEOLLA DO

Jeolla Province has always been a major center for furniture production. The region boasts an abundance of woods with rich grains, including zelkova (often referred to as Dragon wood), paulownia, and oak.

Many pieces of furniture available on the market today originate from this area and are classified by their region or city of origin, such as Gochang or Ko Chan, Yeonggwang, Naju, Jeonju, Namwon, and Changhung.

Jeolla bandaji are known for their large and wide dimensions, with an average size of H. 80cm, L. 100cm, D. 50cm. While they may have sparse fittings, the craftsmanship on these fittings is intricate and fine.

Various JEOLLA DO BANDAJI. From left to Right:
KO CHANG Bandaji (H. 80cm, L. 97cm, D. 44cm).
JEJU DO Bandaji (H. 85cm, L. 98cm, D. 48cm).
NAJU Bandaji (center top) ( H. 70cm, L. 133cm, D. 45cm). NAMWON Bandaji ( H. 50cm, L. 61cm, D. 35cm).

GOCHANG BANDAJI

The most common types of Jeolla bandaji are known as ‘GOCHANG’ and ‘YEONGGWANG’ Bandaji, both located in the central western part of the province.

The wood panels used to build these pieces are thick, typically around 4cm, and are made from red pine or elm wood. Due to their large size and substantial wood thickness, these pieces are among the heaviest.

These bandaji became very popular during the later period of the Joseon dynasty, towards the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

GOCHANG BANDAJI
Pine wood with an opening from the front, iron fittings.
Jeolla province, Korea.
Early 20th Century.
H. 92cm, W. 115cm, D. 49cm . Collection “ANTIKASIA”
This chest was originally covered with a dark stain. Due to many damages, we stripped the color off and finish it with a light natural wax.

Iron fittings decoration is easy to recognize. The central lock plate is round. The opening front panel is fixed by fasteners in swallowtail shapes and there is always a square decorative fitting place in the middle lower part of the chest. The bat motif is widely used for furniture handles.

Iron fittings decoration is easy to recognize. The central lock plate is round.

The opening front panel is secured by fasteners in swallowtail shapes, and there is always a square decorative fitting in the middle lower part of the chest. The bat motif is commonly used for furniture handles.

GOCHANG BANDAJI.
H. 88cm, L. 106cm, D. 47cm.
Thick wood panels have been used. Dark brown finish on pine wood.
Round central lock plate with some openwork. The opening front panel is fixed by fasteners in swallowtail shapes.
Square decorative fitting is placed in the middle lower part of the chest and the “Bat” motif was widely used for furniture handles.
Swallowtail hinges.
“Bat” design furniture handles
.
Round central lock plate.
Inside drawers under the top board. The back of the front panel reveal the typical grain of pine wood.
Inside drawers under the top board.
GOCHANG BANDAJI
Red pine wood, iron fittings.
H.79cm, L. 110cm, D. 50cm.
Jeolla Do province. Korea. Late 19th century.
On this older piece, all the features are present: Round lock plate, swallowtail fittings, “Bat” design under plates pullers, square plate on the central part of the bottom chest. 
GOCHANG BANDAJI.
Pine wood, iron fittings.
Early 20th century. Jeolla Do, Korea.
Iron fittings decoration quite simple compare to the precedent photo. Similar swallowtail fittings. Rounded plate in the lower middle section. 
GOCHANG BANDAJI
Elm wood, iron fittings, oil finish
H.83cm, L. 108cm, D. 46cm.
Private collection.
This is a bandaji made of pine originating from the Yeonggwang area in the southern part of Jeolla-do province. The front design is classic, featuring a solid, thick panel for the front door. Drawers and shelves decorate the top part of the interior. Distinctive features of the fittings on bandaji from this region include swallowtail hinges, a square plate engraved with the manja motif (卍) at the bottom, and bat-shaped handles on the top part.
Dimension: H. 101cm, W. 125cm, D. 53cm.
Collection: NAMGARAM MUSEUM. Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do
GOCHANG BANDAJI. Red pine wood, iron fittings, H. 79,5cm. W. 102cm, D. 46,5cm. Collection: Gimhae Folk Museum, Korea.

Despite significant production during the early 20th century, today, only a few pieces of furniture with original fittings are available. It is common to use the bodies of GOCHANG bandaji and add new iron fittings, which often do not match the local style.

Only experienced buyers will notice the difference.

YEONGGWANG BANDAJI

These chests are unique in their style. They are larger than other Bandaji, and pine wood was the primary timber used.

The swallowtail pattern is a common feature on the iron metalwork. The fittings were also more elaborate than the GOCHANG style.

YEONGGWANG BANDAJI
Persimmon wood, iron fittings.
H. 81cm, L. 111cm, D. 43cm.
Jeolla Do, Korea. Note that the fittings are more elaborated than “Gochang” style pieces studied above
.

Another design concern a higher Bandaji (100cm) with drawers on the top and a downward opening panel which doesn’t extend all the way. Those pieces are rare now days.

YEONGGWANG BANDAJI.
Persimmon wood, iron fittings.
Four top drawers and a middle opening panel which doesn’t extend all the way. H. 100cm, W. 108cm, D. 48cm.

Mid 19th century. The mirror-image persimmon panels beautifully display the dramatic play of this wood’s dark grain figure. Collection of the Weisman Museum of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
YEONGGWANG BANDAJI.
Persimmon wood, iron fittings.
H. 95cm, W. 111cm, D. 50cm.
K Auction, Seoul, Korea.
Four top drawers and a middle opening panel which doesn’t extend all the way. This type of Bandaji was also used as a document chest amongst elites.
Metalwork display similarities with “Gochang” bandaji such as: round lock plate, “Bat” design puller plates, swallowtails hinges and the square bottom decorative plate.

YEONGGWANG BANDAJI.
Elm and pine wood, iron fittings, Early 20th century,
Jeolla Province, Korea.





YEONGGWANG BANDAJI.
Persimmon wood, iron fittings.
Four top drawers and a middle opening panel which doesn’t extend all the way.
This type of Bandaji was also used as a document chest amongst elites.
Metalwork display similarities with “Gochang” bandaji such as: round lock plate, “Bat” design puller plates, swallowtails hinges and the square bottom decorative plate.
YEONGGWANG BANDAJI.
Pine and persimmon woods, iron fittings. Oil finish.
Late 19th century.
YEONGGWANG BOOK BANDAJI.
H. 97cm, L. 110,5cm, D. 48cm.
Former Collection CHUNG DAE YONG, Seoul, Korea.

NAJU BANDAJI

The capital of South Jeolla was located at Naju until it was moved to Gwangju also spell Kwangju in 1895. Being a provincial capital city during the Joseon dyansty, helped the development of a furniture production center.

Experts and collectors of Korean furniture will look for bandaji coming from NAJU for their simplicity and the beauty of their wood.

A perfect illustration of a Bandaji from Naju area by its simple design with a limited amount of iron metalwork. Two central fittings in the shape of swallowtail. This furniture is unique in that it is constructed entirely of paulownia. Paulownia was rarely used to make bandaji because of its fragility. Collection of the National Folk Museum of Korea.
NAJU BANDAJI.

Typical NAJU BANDAJI.
Red pine wood, iron fittings,
Jeolla Do, Korea.
Regarding the metalwork, the NAJU Bandaji is probably the purest among the furniture of the same style on the Korean peninsula.
Very simple design and limited number. Three narrow and long rectangular hinges.
NAJU BANDAJI.
Beautiful grained elm wood unfortunately hidden by the dark finish. Simple and sparse iron fittings, rectangular design.
Unusual legs design.
Jeolla Bukchong Museum Collection.
NAJU BANDAJI.
Beautiful grained elm wood unfortunately hidden by the dark finish. Simple and sparse iron fittings, rectangular design. Unusual legs design.
Jeolla Bukchong Museum Collection.
NAJU BANDAJI.
Zelkova wood, iron fittings
H. 70cm, L. 133cm, D. 45cm.
Very simple design with three narrow, long rectangular fittings and a flat undecorated lock plate.
Late 19th century. Jeolla province
.

Photos left & right. Naju bandaji. Pine wood, iron fittings. Early 20th century. H. 58,1cm, W. 81,6cm, D. 40,2cm.
Collection national Museum of Korea.
NAJU BANDAJI.
Pine wood, iron fittings, oil finish., Early 19th-20th Century, H. 66,5cm,
W. 96,7cm, D. 45cm.
Collection of the Jeju Craft Museum, Korea.
NAJU BANDAJI.
Elm wood, iron fittings.
NAJU BANDAJI. Red pine wood, iron fittings, oil finish. H. 62cm, W. 94cm, D. 37cm.
Collection: Old Story Antique Furniture, Korea.
Typical Bandaji from Naju area. Very simple design with a limited number of metal decoration. Small dimension.

Furniture from this area displays beautiful wood, and generally, the fittings are very sparse, of rectangular shape, and elegant.

Furniture handles had a simple design. Three types of hinges are common on such pieces: a narrow and long rectangular hinge, a swallowtail, and a hinge design with a square on top and a swallowtail at the bottom.

The most characteristic feature is that the nails are embedded in the hinges, so all round nails can be seen above the hinges. Some pieces stand on more elaborate legs.

JEONJU BANDAJI

Jeonju Bandaji. Elm and persimmon wood, Yellow brass fittings. Collection of the National Museum of Korea.

Another chest with its specific design is the JEONJU bandaji (North Jeolla).

A three-story Bandaji with three small drawers on the front top, a small double door in the middle, and a bottom panel that opens downward but does not extend all the way. In some cases, white brass could be used on metalwork, and the bottom opening panel could extend all the way.

JEONJU BANDAJI
Elm wood front, paulownia body (top, side & back), pine wood drawers. White brass fittings.

Jeonju City, North Jeolla Province, Korea. Mid 19th Century.
H. 85 cm, W. 67 cm, D. 34 cm.
Former collection “ANTIKASIA”
JEONJU BANDAJI.
Persimmon wood top. Elm wood bottom.
Yellow brass fittings.
Three top drawers over a central double door.
Bottom: Bandaji type downward opening panel.
Jeolla Do. Korea.
Sold at auction in Seoul.
JEONJU BANDAJI.
Elm, pine and persimmon wood. Iron fittings. Late 19th century. Honolulu Museum of Arts.
JEONGJU BANDAJI. Elm & pine wood, iron fittings. Private collection.
JEONGJU BANDAJI. Elm & pine wood, White brass fittings. Collection: National Folk Museum, Seoul.
JEONGJU BANDAJI. H. 95,4cm, W. 79,5cm, D. 37cm.
Collection: National Folk Museum, Seoul.
JEONGJU BANDAJI. Collection: National Folk Museum, Seoul.

Two-level Bandaji, like those featured in this post, are sometimes difficult to identify. To our knowledge, there were three main types of such pieces produced in Korea: the Jeonju bandaji, the Yeonggwang bandaji, both in Jeolla Do province, and the Cheongju bandaji from the Chungcheong province, north of Jeolla Do province. The illustration provided below offers some tips on how to identify them.

NAMWON BANDAJI

NAMWON Bandaji are large and not very ornate.

The three main fittings holding the opening panel are characterized by the intricate gourd-shaped pattern.

Another design is very similar to the JEONJU bandaji with three similar drawers on the top, but in this case, the bottom panel extends all the way.

NAMWON BANDAJI.
Zelkova wood, iron fittings
H. 70cm, L. 133cm, D. 45cm.
Jeolla do, Korea.
NAMWON BANDAJI. Style No 2
Three top drawers made from persimmon wood.
Red pine wood. Iron fittings.
Elaborate legs.
Jeolla Do, Korea.
Private collection.
NAMWON BANDAJI. Pine wood, iron fittings.
H. 67,5cm, W. 88cm, D. 41cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
NAMWON BANDAJI. Pine wood, iron fittings. H. 83cm, W. 74cm, D. 40 cm high.

CHANGHUNG BANDAJI.

Coming from the southern tip of the province, CHANGHUNG Bandaji is quite similar to JEJU DO pieces in their metal decoration. The tip of the top panel extends slightly from the front door panel, and the lower surface is curved.

CHANGHUNG BANDAJI.
Elm wood with dark stain, iron fittings very similar to JEJU DO Bandaji style. However on this piece, those hinges are flat without engraved decorations.

Zelkova wood with a fine grain was mainly used but on more common pieces pine could also be used.

Detail of Zelkova wood grain on CHANGHUNG BANDAJI.

The front plates and hinges displayed the “clouds” shaped pattern particular to the JEJU DO bandaji. However, the design of this plate is slightly different and is usually flat without engraved symbols.

Sometimes, the top of the central hinge had a pomegranate design. It’s interesting to note the absence of the large, thick, and bold star-shaped nails that are very common on the top opening panel of the JEJU DO bandaji.

CHANGHUNG BANDAJI.
Beautiful Zelkova wood, Iron fittings similar to JEJU DO style Bandaji.
Notice the top panel which extend slightly from the front of the chest (photo right).
CHANGHUNG BANDAJI.
Red pine wood, iron fittings similar to JEJU DO style. H. 78 cm, W. 103cm, D. 48cm.

Private collection in Korea.
Photos from “Old story furniture”
blog. Korea.
CHANGHUNG BANDAJI. H. 32cm W. 62cm, D. 28cm
CHANGHUNG BANDAJI. Zelkova wood, iron fittings.
H. 63cm W. 89cm, D. 41cm

The photo hereunder illustrate the main difference between the Changhung and the Jeju Do Bandaji.

YEOSU or YOSU BANDAJI.

Yeosu is a city located on the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula in South Jeolla Do province.

Bandaji from this area has the characteristic of being much smaller with an average size of H. 40cm, W. 72cm, D. 35cm.

They are often made of pine wood with a dark brown finish. Cast iron metalwork is dense and very detailed with numerous engravings of auspicious motifs.

YEOSU BANDAJI.
Pine wood, iron fittings, oil finish. H. 76cm, W. 110cm, D. 55cm.
Late 19th century. Jeolla Do province.

Some furniture however have very few metal hinges but can be identify by their small and low dimension.

YEOSU BANDAJI
Pine wood. Simple and limited metalwork.

H. 37cm, W. 85cm, D. 30cm.
Compare the size of a Yeosu bandaji to a Pyongyang bandaji from the northern part of the peninsula.

HAENAM BANDAJI.

Bandaji from Haenam area at the southern tip of Jeolla province are very simple without much decoration.

Bandaji. Pine wood, iron fittings. late 19th century, Haenam area. H. 59cm, W. 100cm, D. 50cm.
Collection national Museum of Korea.

One comment

  1. Thank you very much. Yves

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