Box. Vermillion lacquer. Joseon Dynasty, 19th century.
29,2cm x 21,8cm.
Dog-legged tray table. Joseon 19th century.
29cm x 40,5cm.
Lacquered box with mother of pearl inlay decoration. Lacquered, Joseon Dynasty, 19th century.
11,2cm x 33,4cm.
Paper tray table. vermilion lacquered over twisted and coiled paper.
Joseon Dynasty, 19th century.
15cm x 35.4cm.
Four-level cabinet. Joseon period, 19th century.
144cm × 70,6cm.
Tiger legged writing desk. Joseon period, 19th century.
31cm ×73cm.
Casket for memorial tablets. Joseon period, 17th century.
61,5cm × 40,4cm.


Sutra Box Chrysanthemum design in mother of pearl inlay. Lacquered wood. Goryeo dynasty, 13th century.
H. 26cm, W. 37,8cm, D. 19,2cm.

Photos above: This shell-inlayed (raden) box is for storing sutra scrolls and was formerly owned by the Mōri Family. The hinge, lock and rings on the sides are thought to be later additions made in Japan. The letter 黄二 (yellow-two) on the one side indicates that this piece was initially one of a set of boxes (黄 “yellow” is the fourth letter in senjimon (lit. thousand-letters text, the long poem that uses one thousand kanji (Chinese characters). It was widely used for learning kanji). At the center of the outside of the lid, the word “Buddha-avatamsaka-nama-mahavaipulya-sutra” (The Flower Garland Sutra) is inlayed, surrounded by a chrysanthemum pattern in diagonal lines, which is diamond-shaped with the branches and leaves on the four sides of a flower. The sides of the body are bordered with crossed-diagonal and circular patterns, the insides of which are decorated with a standing-chrysanthemum pattern, also in diagonal lines. All of the raden are made with thin and exceptionally small pieces of shell and the chrysanthemum pattern is relatively small and doesn’t look ostentatious. The shape of the flowers is very similar to the inlay works of the celadon porcelain ware of Koryo made about the same period. The patterns of this box represent the subtle and elegant style of Koryo pattern-art. There is a trace of fire damage on this piece, which tells us that it has survived turbulent times.

Sutra Box. Lacquered wood. Goryeo dynasty, 13th century.
H. 26,4cm, W. 47,3cm, D. 25,3cm.

Photos above: This box was used to store Buddhist texts. The lid is sharply beveled on all sides, while both the box and the lid are coated with black lacquer and decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay depicting vines with chrysanthemum or peony flowers. The lid features a composition of wave-like vines and chrysanthemums in the center. These are framed by circles, while the circles are surrounded by vines and peonies. Each of these sections is divided by twisted metallic lines.

The sides of the lid and the box have the same composition, although the sides of the box also feature a pattern of floral diamonds arranged diagonally at the bottom. The leaves, petals, and central parts of the chrysanthemums and peonies are mother-of-pearl, while the stems are metal wires. The artist succeeded in creating a detailed, rhythmical pattern by rendering each petal and flower with a separate piece of mother-of-pearl.

One side of the box has two gilt-bronze fittings shaped like the characters 宇 and 霊, respectively. Other sutra boxes decorated with similar mother-of-pearl patterns also exist. Scholars believe they were used to store large collections of sacred Buddhist texts (tripiṭaka), with the characters most likely serving as labels for each box.

This small table was used to serve a single diner. The rectangular paneling under the tabletop is a distinct design feature, named after the Korean region Tongyeong.
Joseon dynasty, 19th–20th century
Box for Clothing with the Sun, Moon, a Pine Tree, and Bamboo. The lid of this large clothing box shows the sun and moon in the upper corners. Bamboo is depicted on either side of a central pine tree with birds in it. Lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl.
Joseon dynasty, 18th–19th century
Box with Birds and Animals. A unique Korean decorative art technique, called “hwagak”, involves painting the underside of thin, transparent sheets ox horn. Joseon dynasty, 18th–19th century.
Top view
Side view.
Photo left & right. Soban. This piece was used as a low dining table or portable tray for a single diner. This type of furniture was made throughout Korea, but designs varied by region. Lacquered wood with openwork. Joseon dynasty, second half of the 19th century.
Box with Peony Vines. This box has a thick frame and features peony vines and circular disks made with large sections of mother-of-pearl inlay. Lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl.
Joseon dynasty, 17th century
Garment Box, Grapes in mother-of-pearl inlay.
Photo left & right. Box with Sun, Moon, Plum Tree, and Bamboo. The sun, moon, plum tree, and bamboo are finely depicted in mother-of-pearl inlay. This box was likely used by a high-ranking noblewoman. Lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl.
Joseon dynasty, 18th century
Box. Wood and painted ox-horn sheets. Joseon dynasty,
19th century
Korean dining table. This small table was used to serve a single diner. Its s-shaped legs are referred to as “tiger legs”.
Lacquered wood. Joseon dynasty, 19th century.
Lacquered wood. H. 14,5cm, W. 65cm, D. 39cm. Chosun (Korea) period/17-18th century

This shell-inlayed box from the Yi Dynasty is known to have been owned by the Ōuchi clan. It was used to keep garments, as it is shallow and large. The lid fits the body neatly, making the flat and continuous joint surfaces (inrōbuta, lit. seal-lid). A peony arabesque pattern in shell-inlay decorates the entire box. The characteristic of that pattern is the contrast between the flowers and buds expressed boldly with large pieces of shell and the thread-thin vines connecting them. There are several other boxes known to have this type of peony arabesque, but this piece is considered to be particularly excellent, displaying refined taste, as it features the pattern more subtly than the others while using higher quality lacquer.

Side of the lacquered box above. Box with Peonies and Butterflies. The elite of the Joseon dynasty enjoyed studying calligraphy and poetry in a peaceful environment with tasteful accessories, like this box. Lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl. Joseon dynasty, 17th–18th century.
Covered Box Arabesque design in mother-of-pearl inlay. Lacquered wood. Goryeo dynasty, 14th century.
Photos left & right. Bookshelf. This bookshelf was placed in a traditional gentlemen’s room (sarangbang). Furniture embodying a reserved elegance was preferred for such rooms. Lacquered wood. Joseon dynasty, 19th century
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