Small original boxes are likely the most challenging pieces to come across in the Korean furniture market due to their historical association with the elite. These boxes are relatively rare, and they were used in both men’s and women’s quarters for various purposes. Among these boxes, the wedding box was the most common and could also be found among commoners. For more information on these boxes, you can refer to our special publication.: Korean wedding box

We have classified these different boxes according to their use and their place in the Korean home. The men’s & women’s quarters.


Some extremely ancient boxes have been excavated from burial sites, providing evidence of the existence of such objects in ancient times, notably during the Goryeo Dynasty (12th century). These artifacts are still held in various museums in the United States and Korea.

Treasure Najeon Gyeongbox, Buddhist scriptures box.
Goryo dynasty. H. 22,6cm, W. 41,9cm, D. 20cm. Collection National Museum of Korea. (Photos left & right)
Mother-of-pearl inlaid Lacquer Ware for Buddhist Monk’s Rosary, circa 12c, Goryeo Dynasty
Covered Box. Lacquered wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
Goryeo dynasty – 12th century
H: 4,5cm, Diam.: 12,4cm.
Taima-dera Temple.
Najeon Ham. Document box. Black lacquer covered with mother-of-pearl inlay. 16th century. W. 46cm, L. 31cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.


The boxes discovered in the men’s quarters primarily contained items used to store the scholar’s belongings, such as document boxes for holding inkstones, paintbrushes, and seals. These boxes often lacked excessive decoration, reflecting the simple and austere character of the Confucian tradition prevalent among Koreans during the Joseon period.

A special publication on scholar’s furniture is available on this site: The scholar’s chests.


Most of the time, these small boxes were employed for storing a variety of documents. The wood chosen for these boxes was often carefully selected, with options such as elm, zelkova, or burl, and they could also be covered with paper or ray skins.

Yellow brass, which was relatively expensive during that period, was commonly used for the fittings.

Crown prince Munhyo’s document box. H. 25cm, W. 31,8cm, D. 24,8cm. Collection: National Palace Museum. Seoul, Korea.
Document box. Wood & bamboo, yellow brass fittings. H. 42,9cm, W. 80,2cm, D. 40,2cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Small document box. Dark stain on wood. yellow brass fittings. 19th century. H. 6.6cm, W. 33,2cm, D. 19,9cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Document box. probably elm wood, yellow brass fittings. Late 19th to early 20th century. H. 13,3cm, W. 33,2cm, D. 17cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Document box. Zelkova wood, yellow brass fittings.
Late 19th century. H. 26,8cm, W. 40,3cm, D. 23cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea. Seoul.
(Photos left & right).
The box has a small tray on the top when opening.
Jijang box, 19th century, 40×27.5x9cm. Private collection
Gyopiham, 18th century 36×25.5×7.5cm. Collection of Ilamgwan
Portable stacked boxes, 19th century, 28.4x14x14.5cm.
Collection of Leeum
Document box, Joseon Dynasty. H. 5cm, 18.1 x 29.3cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Wooden Inkstone Case with Fruit and Tree Design.
Joseon Dynasty. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Small box. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Document box – 서류함. H. 10cm, W. 45cm, D. 10cm. Collection: NAMGARAM MUSEUM. Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. Korea.
Document box.
H. 25,3cm, W. 67,8cm, D. 24,9cm.

Collection: NAMGARAM MUSEUM. Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. Korea.
Pair of wooden boxes. Pine wood, white brass fittings.
H. 30cm. W. 42cm, D. 43cm.
Collection: NAMGARAM MUSEUM. Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. Korea.
Document box. 19th century, 34.2×26.3x6cm.
Collection of Leeum
Small barrel for storage for rigid and shaped stuff such as hat, or rare and stationery items such as brush, letter and paper. This box is covered with stingray.
Paper covered box, clear lacquer finish, and yellow brass fittings.
H. 21cm, W. 47 cm, D. 24cm
Late 19th Century.
Gyeonggi Province, Korea. Collection “ANTIKASIA”
Gingko and Paulownia wood (bottom), white brass fittings.
H. 15 cm, W. 22 cm, D. 22 cm.. Mid 19th century.
Jeolla Province, Korea. Collection “ANTIKASIA”
Document box. gingko wood, yellow brass fittings.
Document box. H. 48cm, 8,2cm x 8,2cm. Collection: Andong City Folk Museum, Korea.


Seal boxes. H. 35,8cm, 28cm x 28cm, H. 45cm, 31,5cm x 31,5cm, H. 30,7cm, 27,6cm, x 28cm.
Korean seal. H. 5,4cm, W. 1,1cm, D. 1,1cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Seal box. Red lacquer on wood, iron fittings.
19th century.
H. 30cm, W. 31,3cm, D. 21,5cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Seal box. Red lacquer on wood, yellow brass fittings.
Late 19th to early 20th century. H. 27,8cm, W. 21,5cm, D. 21,5cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Small seal box. Pine wood. 19th century, 17x17x19.5cm.
Private collection
Seal box. Paulownia wood, yellow brass fittings.
Seal box. H. 17,2cm, W. 13cm, D. 13,2cm.
Collection: NAMGARAM MUSEUM. Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. Korea
Galuchat seal box. H. 24cm, W. 21,5cm, D. 21,5cm. Collection: Dongguk University. Seoul, Korea.
Seal box. Wood & metal. H. 30,8cm, W. 23,7cm, D. 23,7cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.


Adjacent to the coin chest was a smaller container referred to as a “Safe,” where nobles stored important documents or valuable items. These medium-sized safes measured approximately H. 50 to 60cm, W. 70cm, and D. 40cm and were constructed as cabinets with two front doors, providing access to a series of drawers within.

These safes typically featured a restrained design, with a structure reinforced by metal components, including corner plates, and a sizable lock plate in the center. They also included handles on the sides for ease of transportation.

Safe covered with leather. yellow brass fittings. Private collection.
Cabinet with drawers.
Joseon dynasty, 18th century.
Burlwood veneer on wood core with brass fittings and iron handles
17 3/4 x 24 x 16 1/4 in. (45.09 x 60.96 x 41.28 cm).
Collection: LACMA. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Large Korean Zelkova safe.
Joseon dynasty, yellow brass fittings, opening to nine interior drawers with felt lining,15 x 22-1/4 x 14-1/2 in. Sold at Auction.
Safe, Burlwood, pine, iron fittings. 19th century.
H. 49cm, W. 76cm, D. 42cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Safe. dark stain on wood, brass fittings.
H. 60,5cm, W. 67,5cm, D. 39cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Treasure Cabinet (Kap-kae-suri)
19th century. Lacquered wood with brass wire and dyed ray skin inlay; gilded metal fittings
H. 61cm, W. 66cm, D. 43,2 cm. Collection: Philadelphia Museum of Art. USA
A kap-kae-suri is one of two types of Korean safes or treasure cabinets. Probably used in the women’s quarters (an’chae) of an upper class household, this elaborately decorated cabinet opens to reveal six drawers of differing sizes.
Safe. Early 20th century Width 68.5 Length 41 Height 64 pine tree. Gakgesuri is a piece of furniture used to store important items and documents in the master bedroom and guest room.
It was used as a kind of safe consisting of several drawers in a hinged door.
When you open the casement door, there are six drawers inside.
Merchant safe.
Korean medicine box. H. 13,5cm, W. 25cm, D. 13,5cm. Collection: Eunpyeong History Hanok Museum, Korea.


A gat (Korean pronunciation: “Kat”) is a traditional Korean hat worn by men in conjunction with hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) during the Joseon period. It is typically crafted from horsehair and features a bamboo frame, making it partially transparent.

Most gat hats are cylindrical in shape with a wide brim supported by a bamboo frame. Until the late 19th century, only men of noble class were permitted to wear gat, as it symbolized their social status and served to protect their topknots.

Interesting Link : Gat

Korean merchants at gate of Russian Legation, Beijing.
1861 – 1864.

Hat boxes, also known as “Gatjip ham” in Korean, can be categorized into two main types. One type features an integrated base (the part where the hat is placed) and cover, typically constructed by forming a skeletal structure with a cylindrical shape at the lower part and a conical shape at the upper part. Paper and oil are then applied to it. The bottom side is divided into halves to facilitate opening and closing for inserting the hat, and a string is attached to the top for hanging.

The other type is a box-like container with a separate lid, typically made from wood or multiple layers of paper. Resembling a cap, the cover consists of an outer aspect and a headpiece (hat) part, and the base can take various shapes such as circular, square, octagonal, or dodecagonal.

Hat box. Late Joseon dynasty. Japanese colonial period.
(4 photos)
Paper hat box. Korean Costume History.
(Seok Ju-seon, Bo Jin-jae, 1978)
Rattan hat box. Private collection.
Wooden hat box with red lacquer and brass fittings. Private collection.
A traditional horsehair hat and elm hat box, 19th century. Dimension: 21,8cm x 41cm. Tajan Auction,
Paris France. September 30, 2022.
Wooden hat box. Private collection.
Original hat box with crown. Cleveland Museum of Art. USA.
Hat box. 19th century, Wood, lacquer, abalone shell, metal.
This hat box, entirely encrusted with pieces of abalone shell, was used to store a man’s inner hat, or “tanggeon“. Korean craftspeople used a special technique to create such objects. First a wooden box was coated with several layers of lacquer, onto which pieces of abalone shell were affixed. They then continued to coat the box with lacquer until the shell was completely covered. After the lacquer dried, they laboriously polished the surface with charcoal until the iridescent shell was revealed. Typical of Korean style, the mother-of-pearl is broken and reassembled in the manner seen here.
Collection: MIA. The Minneapolis Institute of Art. USA.
A Twelve-sided Wood Hat Box.
Joseon dynasty (late 19th century)
Made to contain a gentleman’s hat, fitted with a brass hinge-lock on rectangular lock plate and with back hinge and plate, the wood finished a deep, reddish-brown with gloss varnish; the interior wood unpolished.  (20.5cm.) high:  (26.2cm.) diameter.
Octagonal hat box. Paulownia wood, white brass fittings.
Octagonal hat box. Pine wood, iron fittings.
Box for an Official’s Hat with Lacquered Box with Mother-of-Pearl. Yellow brass fittings. The box lid center is highlighted with a circular frame. The area inside features a stylized “happiness” character, surrounded by characters for “long life”, “good fortune”, “good health”, and “peace of mind”, alternated by images of the heavenly peach and pomegranate. The eight sice panels are framed in rectangular borders. The design elements for these panels include clouds, cranes with heavenly peaches in their beaks, and stylized characters for the Confucian virtues of filial piety, repect for elder brothers, loyalty the sovereign, trust among friends, propriety, righteousness, integrity, and a sense of shame. Details on the crane, heavenly peach and pomegranate images have been created with engraved lines, and the characters were assembled with relatively wide mother-of-pearl strips. The wishes for longevity and good fortune, which have Daoist roots, are mixed with the Confucian sentiments in this design scheme. H. 26,7cm, D. 38,8cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Octagonal hat box. Black lacquer on wood with mother-of-pear inlay. White brass fittings iron fittings.
Octagonal hat box. Early 20th century.
H. 12,5cm, bottom diameter 9cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Hat box, black with brass fittings, made in paulownia wood with wood nails. Collection the Auckland Museum.
Octagonal hat box. Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay.
White brass fittings. H. 28cm, W. 32cm D. 33cm.
Collection: NAMGARAM MUSEUM. Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. Korea
Octagonal box. 팔각함. H. 23cm, W. 30cm, D. 30cm. Those boxes could be used to store hats or other small fabrics. It also served as a decoration when placed on top of large furniture.
Collection: NAMGARAM MUSEUM. Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. Korea
Hat box. H. 35,3cm, W. 63,1cm, D. 38cm. Collection: Andong City Folk Museum, Korea.


Smoking gained popularity during the late Joseon period, leading to the production of small boxes like these iron examples with silver inlay designed to hold tobacco leaves. Besides featuring bird-and-flower imagery, these boxes share many motifs with those found on lacquerware.

For more information on Korean metalwork, you may refer to the following source: Metal inlay, an old Korean craft

Tobacco box19th century.
Iron inlaid with silver; brass fittings.
H. 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm); W. 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm); D. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm).

Collection: The MET. 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. USA
Iron Tobacco Case with Silver Inlay. Joseon Dynasty. Iron, silver. H. 6.7cm, W. 8cm, L. 11.2cm.
This box-shaped case was used to store tobacco leaves during the Joseon Period. It features the Ten Symbols of Longevity (i.e., deer, crane, and more) inlaid in silver. The Chinese character “壽,” which stands for longevity, and “福,” representing blessings, are inscribed in the middle of the lid.
Collection of the National Museum of Korea.


These food boxes could be used by both sexes, primarily among wealthy households or government officials.

Since “Won”, an accommodation run by government offices during the Joseon Dynasty, only cooked rice, travelers had to carry their own food and side dishes in boxes. This box made of stained wooden boards was used to hold side dishes. Handles were attached to a pedestal. A sheet of tin is used to firmly hold each corner, contrasting with the dark brown color of the body to enhance the decorative effect.

H. 28,3cm, W. 19,8cm, D. 15cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.

Photos left & right. Small food box. Black lacquer on wood, Mother-of-pearl inlay. yellow brass fittings. Japanese occupation period, early 20th century. H. 27cm, 15cm x 15,5cm.
Collection National museum of Korea.
Korean lunch box.
H. 29,5cm, W. 14cm, D. 13,7cm.
Collection: Busan Metropolitan City Museum, Korea.


Women of the Joseon dynasty, especially those from the aristocracy and members of the extended royal family, possessed various boxes for storing valuables and essentials such as jewelry, cosmetics, combs, hairpins, and sewing materials…


Wedding boxes were typically comprised of two similar boxes used during the wedding ceremony by the bride to store clothing and various implements. These boxes have been featured in a special post that can be checked at: Korean wedding boxes.

Pair of Korean wooden boxes.
Paulownia wood, yellow brass fittings.
probably used as wedding boxes.


The distinctive feature of the mirror box was its two-piece tray on top, which allowed for the placement of a mirror that could be opened. The lower part typically contained one or two small drawers. These boxes were primarily used by women and often featured ornate designs, with hinges adorned with auspicious motifs or finished with lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlay.

Mirror box. Elm wood, yellow brass fittings. Early 20th century.
H. 9,8cm, W. 14,5cm, D. 20,4cm.
(photos left & right).
Black-lacquered Mirror Stand with Tortoise Shell Design. Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), 19th century.
Brown lacquer on wood core with mother-of-pearl inlay, brass fittings, and silvered glass
12.07 x 26.35 x 18.1 cm.

Collection LACMA. Los Angeles Museum of Art. USA
Korean mirror box. H. 15,1cm, W. 17cm, D. 22cm.
Collection national Museum of Korea.
An Incised-Wood Cosmetic Box and Mirror. Christie’s
Rectangular, set on four bracket feet and fitted with two drawers and integral folding mirror and stand at the top, the faces of the drawers incised with a shaped panel of orchids and the sides with a bird and flowers and the back with a stag and pines; metal mirror latch and drawer pulls in the shape of a radiant sun and butterfly, interiors of the drawers unlined. 11¼ x 8¼ x 7¾in. (28.3 x 21 x 19.7cm.)
Mirror box covered with mother-of-pearl inlay. private collection.

19th century. Collection of the National Museum of Korea.

According to Edward Reynolds Wright and Man Sill Pai in their excellent publication “Korean Furniture, Elegance and Tradition” red lacquer called “Chu-Ch’il ” in korean is refined lacquer mixed with either iron oxide or cinnabar pigments or a mixture of both. Colored lacquer was applied over an undercoating (often persimmon tannin). Items covered with such lacquer were intended for the court and nobles.

Comb box – Soham. Red lacquer on wood, yellow brass fittings. 19th century. H. 27,3cm, W. 24,5cm, D. 36cm.
Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Comb box. Red lacquer on wood, yellow brass fittings. Sold by Christie’s Auction House.
Red lacquer comb box with yellow brass fittings.
H. 30cm,. W. 23,4cdm, D. 36,2cm.
Private collection. 
Comb box. H. 30cm, W. 24cm, D. 34cm
Early 20th century.
Lacquered comb box. Red lacquer on ginkgo wood. Yellow brass fittings. Gyeongsan province. Korea.
This comb box fairly recent has been rebuilt with old wood. Old yellow brass fittings have been used to decorate it.
It featured in its upper part a cookie patterned lock plate and an L shaped lock rod that fit into a turtle shaped lock.
The lower section featured a round patterned lock plate. Purely decorative pieces includes swallow shaped hinges, pattern of happiness as well as swastika and bats. Collection “ANTIKASIA”.
Comb box. H. 27,3cm, W. 22cm, D. 32cm.
Collection: Andong City Folk Museum, Korea.
Comb box. H. 25,5cm, W. 19,3cm, D. 28,8cm.
Collection: Andong City Folk Museum, Korea.


These cube-shaped boxes were compact, featuring a row of drawers at the front for storing accessories like combs and hairpins. They were frequently adorned with decorative veneers made of mother-of-pearl or painted horn. The wood was also coated in either black or red lacquer, which depended on the owner’s social status.

Paper box with grape pattern painted in mother-of-pearl, Joseon Dynasty 18th century, Joseon Dynasty 18th century, wood, painted, copper, mother-of-pearl. Height 27,6cm, 26,4×37,1cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Cosmetic box – 빗접
H. 29,7cm, W. 23,4cm, D. 32.5cm.
This beautiful box called “Pit-Chop” in Korean was used in the woman’s quarter to store small accessories such as combs, brushes, and cosmetic powder.
Beautiful woods have been used such as fine-grained zelkova on the front part enhanced by quality yellow brass fittings. Paulownia wood sides and top. This box stands on elegant legs. Origin: Probably Gyeonggi Do Province. Korea.

Collection National Museum of Korea.
Cosmetic case with auspicious symbols, 19th – 20th century.
31,8 × 29,8 × 29.2 cm
Cosmetic box. black lacquer on wood, mother-of-pearl inlay, white brass fittings. 19th century.
H. 28,7cm, W. 27,9cm, D. 24,6cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Cosmetic box. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Paulownia wood, white brass fittings, oil finish.
H. 29 cm, W. 34 cm, D. 34 cm..  Mid 19th Century.
Gyeonggi Province, Korea. Collection “ANTIKASIA”.
Black lacquer on pine wood,, mother of pearl inlay, yellow brass fittings. Gyeongsang Province, Korea.

H. 27 cm, W. 26 cm, D. 24 cm.
Early 19th Century. Collection “ANTIKASIA”
Cosmetic boxes such as this would have belonged to aristocratic women at the Korean court, and were used to store combs, hairpins, jewelry and cosmetics. This box, which dates from the nineteenth century, has been decorated using inlaid mother-of-pearl. The front face is adorned with scrolling foliage, Korean seal characters, and a pair of ducks in a pond surrounded by lotus plants.
Korean comb box. H. 30,5cm, W. 31cm, D. 31cm.
Collection: Busan Metropolitan City Museum, Korea.
Korean comb box. H. 28cm, W. 27,3cm, D. 26,6cm.
Collection: Yeongcheon History Museum, Korea.
Cosmetic box. H. 29,5cm, W. 27cm, D. 39cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea. (Photos left & right).
Double boxes for hair implements. Burlwood, yellow brass fittings, H. 13.,5cm, W. 16cm, D. 8,3cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Document box. (Photos left & right).
Mother-of-pearl on wood, yellow brass fittings.

Late 19th century. H. 30,5cm, W. 33cm, D. 27cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Small document box that acts as a safe. Using mother-of-pearl, a peach and a pair of birds are displayed on the top, a tortoise shell and plum blossoms on the front, pine trees, cranes, and deer on the right side with a mountain in the background, and various bamboo shoots, plum blossoms, and birds including bamboo shoots on the left side. There is no decoration on the back side. There is one storage compartment on the top and three drawers below it.
Small box. Late Joseon dynasty. 19th century.
H. 26,8cm, W. 21,8cm, D. 21,7cm.
Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Lacquered ox with mother-of-pearl inlay.
Joseon Dynasty, wood and mother-of-pearl inlay. 19th century.
H. 32.7cm, L. 42.4cm, W. 42.0cm.

Collection National Museum of Korea.
People from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) used this lacquered box to store combs and hair ornaments. The top of the lid is adorned with a pair of phoenixes holding the herb of immortality in their beak, and the edge is ornamented with half-flower patterns. The front shows a chrysanthemum and peony design; the sides have plum blossom, bamboo, and a pine tree with a pair of birds. The back is decorated with water plants and a pair of birds. It displays typical features of mother-of-pearl inlaid lacquerware of the mid-Joseon Dynasty.
Lacquered Comb Box Inlaid with Mother-of-Pearl, Joseon Dynasty. Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Small box for cloth storing. Mother-of-pearl on wood. H. 13cm, W. 72,8cm, D. 43,5cm.
Rectangular in shape with a lid on top, these boxes were primarily used to store clothing. 
Originally, it was used to store official clothes, but gradually it was used to store various clothes. 
This clothes box is decorated with a phoenix pattern in an octagonal window on the top of the lid and a plum blossom pattern on the side, and the other parts are decorated with mother-of-pearl cut in large sizes and pasted on the surface without any specific pattern. Collection: Korean National Museum.
(3 photos)
Small box for cloth storing. Mother-of-pearl on wood. H. 16,6cm, W. 65,5cm, D. 44,5cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Small box covered with black lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlay. H. 20,3cm, W. 51,2cm, D. 19,7cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl and brass wire inlay.
brass fittings
H. 24,1cm, W. 43,2cm, D. 29,8 cm .

Collection The Philadelphia Museum.
Box. Korea; Joseon dynasty, late 19th-early 20th century. Wood, brass fittings, back-painted oxhorn panels, 4 ⅞ x 16 ½ x 4 ⅜ in. (12.5 x 42 x 11.2 cm). Collection: Brooklyn Museum.
A Reverse-Painted Oxhorn-Applied Box
Cleveland Museum of art Korean collection

Box with Design of Auspicious Symbols, early 20th century.
Ink and paint on ox horn panels on wood, ray skin, and metal.
Lacquered Box with Mother-of-Pearl. In the late Joseon period, motifs for decorating inlaid lacquerware became more diverse, to include designs of the ten longevity symbols, two cranes with heavenly peaches, and the Chinese characters for longevity and fortune. All of these motifs were symbols associated with wealth, honor, and longevity. Also in this period, kkeuneumjil technique became popular, with thin strips of mother-of-pearl being used to render geometric.
This is a lidded case for storing documents in the form of a scroll. The top surface of the lid is decorated with a pair of cranes and heavenly peaches. The façade of the body is inlaid with pine, crane, bamboo, and phoenix designs, and the back is inlaid with plum blossoms and birds. The designs on this case were often found in the lacquerware of the Joseon period that is decorated with ten longevity symbols with mother-of-pearl inlay.
Lacquered Box with Mother-of-Pearl. Bone, Horn and Shell – Lacquerware Inlaid With Mother-Of-Pearl. H. 28,8cm, W. 47,3cm, D. 28,2cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Lacquered Box with Mother-of-Pearl. Bone, Horn and Shell – Lacquerware Inlaid With Mother-Of-Pearl. H. 16,1cm, W. 81,8cm, D. 45,1cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Lacquered Case Inlaid with Mother-of-Pearl (Photo upward). Bone, Horn and Shell – Lacquerware Inlaid With Mother-Of-Pearl.
H. 21,2cm, W. 20,5cm, D. 31,8cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.

Round box with mother-of-pearl decoration. (Photo right)

Box. Pine wood covered with black lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlay. Yellow brass fittings. Used to store documents & small accessories. Collection: Anyang Museum, Korea.
Box. Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay.
H. 20cm, W. 32cm, D. 18cm.
Collection: National Daegu Museum, Korea.
Ox-horn Plated Hwagak Box.
Joseon Dynasty. H. 24,3cm, 34,1cm x 21,8cm.

Collection The National Museum of Korea.
Hwagak (華角) refers to a unique type of craftwork made with ox horns that have been cut and flattened into thin, translucent sheets. One side of these sheets would be painted with patterns or images, and then the painted side was attached to a wooden surface as decoration. Since ox horns are usually rather small, dozens of them were required to fully decorate even a small wooden object. Thus, hwagak crafts are known to be very complicated and difficult to produce. However, because of their vibrant, colorful decorative effect, hwagak products were quite popular, especially among women. This box is decorated with an array of plants and animals, including peonies, cranes, tigers, deer, turtles, and carp, as well as images of the Immortal Child (童子), who can be seen riding some of the animals against the bright red backdrop. The theme of the Immortal Child sitting astride an animal comes from Taoism, and was a common trope of hwagak. The top of the lid has a black border, and there is a taegeuk (yin-yang symbol) in each of the four corners. Arch-shaped iron handles are attached to the front and back of the box.
Stationery box decorated with peony scrolls. 15th–16th century. Lacquer inlaid with mother-of-pearl; brass fittings. H. 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm); W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); L. 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm). Collection The Met Fifth Avenue, New York. USA.
Lacquer in vermilion, 19th century, 21.5×21.5x29cm. Collection of Ilamkwan
A Reverse-Painted Oxhorn-Applied Accessory Box (Hwagak haem) Joseon dynasty (19th century)
Christie’s Images, Ltd.
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