THE SOBAN – 소반 PART 2. Collections in Korea.

For more information about Soban you can read our article: The soban

Basang ban. Collection National Folk Museum, Seoul.
Hojokban. Collection National Folk Museum, Seoul.
Hokjoban. H. 38,5 cm, Diameter. 27cm.
Gimhae Folk Museum
Hokjoban. Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Hojokban. Collection National Folk Museum, Seoul.
Hojokban. H. 34 cm, Diameter. 62 cm.
Border lines engraved on top. 
Lacquer except for the under plate.
Yeungnam University Museum
.
Hojokban. H. 41,4cm, Diameter. 65 cm.
Collection Gyeonggi Province Museum.
Hojokban. H. 24cm, Diameter: 42cm. Collection: National Museum of Korea
Hojokban. H. 40cm, Diameter 47,5cm. This hojokban was decorated with red and black lacquer, unlike those used in ordinary homes, and furniture decorated with these lacquers was usually used in the court. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Hojokban. H. 27,1cm, Diameter. 44,1cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
The type of table on which food is placed and carried or placed in a room and used as a table is called a “soban“. In traditional houses, the kitchen and dining room were far away, and brass or porcelain dishes were used. Therefore, the small table was made of light and strong wood so that it could bear the weight while being easy to carry. Also, since only one table was used per person, most of them were made in small sizes. Various types of small tables are handed down depending on the purpose, top plate, leg shape, and region of use.
The shape of the top plate is circular. It is a disk with a relatively wide dimension. It was produced using black lacquer, a painting method that adds iron oxide to raw lacquer to create a black color. Black lacquer, like red lacquer, could only be used in the royal court or noble families, so it appears to have been used by noble families. This black lacquered table has a very simple circular line engraving on the top plate, and is characterized by quite ornate carved flower patterns on the cloud and four legs.
Collection: Bonte Museum, Jeju Do. Korea.
MOTHER-OF-PEARL AND LACQUERED CRANE PATTERN SOBAN.
It is a Soban made from a single plate without a rim on the edge of the top plate, and the entire table is painted in red. “Juchil” is a painting method that involves adding pearl-colored paint to transparent raw lacquer to create a red color. This technique was exclusively used in the royal court or by noble families. The mother-of-pearl and lacquered crane pattern table is adorned with mother-of-pearl, featuring a su (壽) octagon at the center of the top plate and four crane patterns surrounding it. The Chinese character Su (壽) is engraved on the border that connects the top and legs, with an arabesque pattern engraved around it. The four legs are foot-shaped, exhibiting elegant curves.

Collection: Bonte Museum, Jeju Do. Korea.
Gujokban. H. 52 cm, Diameter. 33 cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Gujokban. Horim Museum, Seoul, Korea.
Gujokban. H. 24,7 cm, Diameter. 32 cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
GUJOKBAN
This table is known as the “Gaedari” Table or “Gujokban” because its legs resemble those of a dog. Gujokban is primarily produced in the Chungju region, earning it the alternative name Chungjuban. The leg shape of this small table, reminiscent of a dog’s legs, can also be found on the legs of gyoza statues and jangwa nong from the Joseon Dynasty. The dodecagonal nine-foot plate features a twelve-angled top plate and is distinctive for being carved as a single piece along with the top plate, rather than having a separate rim around it. The foot that makes contact with the floor includes a footrest connecting the six legs, providing a sense of stability. Collection: Bonte Museum, Jeju Do. Korea.

A table used for dining, where food is placed, is called a “soban“. In traditional houses of the Joseon Dynasty, the kitchen and dining room were typically separate, and heavy brass or porcelain dishes were used for tableware. Consequently, sobans were constructed from lightweight yet durable wood to support the weight of these dishes while remaining easy to carry. Most sobans are relatively small in size, as they were designed for individual use. One particular type of soban, known as “Gujokban” (狗足盤), earned its name due to the leg shape resembling that of a dog. Gujokbans are predominantly crafted in the Chungju region and are sometimes referred to as “Chungjuban“.

The top plate, also known as the “天板” (the plate that covers the uppermost surface of the furniture and provides a finishing touch), features a 12-sided, softly angled design. The upper surface of the top plate is painted in red, while the background of the pattern is adorned with black lacquer. In the center of the top plate, a mother-of-pearl pattern is placed, and the surrounding area is decorated with alternating patterns of cranes and peaches. The edges are further enhanced with a sawtooth pattern, resembling a band.

Naju soban.
Collection National Folk Museum, Seoul.
Naju soban. H. 27 cm, W. 45 cm, D. 36 cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Naju soban. H. 30cm, W. 46cm, D. 37cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Naju soban. H. 31cm, W. 51cm, D. 38cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Tongyeong soban.
Collection National Folk Museum, Seoul.
Tongyeong soban.
Collection National Folk Museum, Seoul.
Tongyeong soban. H. 27,5cm, W. 61cm, D. 45cm.
Collection: Gimhae Folk Museum
Tongyeong soban. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Tongyeong soban. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Tongyeong soban. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Tongyeong soban. H. 27cm, W. 47cm, D. 36cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Haejuban. H. 28,3cm, W. 45cm, D. 34,8cm.
Made in Haeju, Hwanghae Province. Rhinestones and chrysanthemum patterns are openwork on the sides of the clouds and legs.
Collection: Sokcho museum, Korea.
Haejuban. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Haejuban. H. 27cm, W. 43,7cm, D. 34,4cm.
Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Haejuban. H. 28cm, W. 50cm, D. 37cm.
Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Haejuban, H. 30,4cm, W. 42cm, D. 33,7cm.
Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Haejuban. Top view.
Haejuban, H. 29cm, W. 46cm, D. 36cm.
Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Haejuban, H. 31cm, W. 59cm, D. 39cm.
Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Gangwon Do soban.
H. 28,5 cm, Diameter. 43,2cm.
Polygonal top plate that forms 12 angles
Collection: Sokcho museum, Korea.
Gangwon Do soban.
Pine wood. H. 25,6cm, W. 47cm, D. 35cm
.
Collection: Sokcho museum, Korea.
Gangwon Do soban. Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Juchil wonban. a special table used by the elders of the royal family during court events. Collection Jeju National Museum.



Wonban. It is also called ‘Beonsang 番床’ as a soban that people carry food on their heads when eating outdoors or in government offices. 
It consists of a 12-sided half face and has handle holes on the left and right sides for easy carrying on the head.
Wonban. Collection: PEM. Peobody Essex Museum. USA.
Wonban. lacquered rattan. Collection: Japan Folk Crafts Museum.
Wonban. lacquered rattan. H. 16cm, Diameter: 39cm.
Collection: National Folk Museum, Seoul.
Wonban. Mother-of-pearl inlay phoenix pattern on wood.
H. 23,5cm, Bottom diameter 70,7cm, top diameter 60,7cm. Collection National Museum of Korea.
Also called “Gonggosang” this soban was used to carry food on the heads when eating outdoors or in government offices, and is also called “Beonsang”. 
Iljuban. H. 22cm, Diameter 31,9cm, Base Diameter 27,1cm. Clouds and vine patterns were carved on the four legs crossed by the cross, and a pillar that looked like four twisted strings was built in the center. 
On top of the pillars, supporters carved with cloud and vine patterns support the 12-sided top plate.

Collection: National Museum of Korea.
Iljuban. Lacquer on wood. 19th century. This is a small one-legged dining table. It is assumed that this kind of one-legged dining table was used for a single dish with fruits or a bowl of herbal medicine fluid. Its foot is in the form of a turtle, and the leg is adorned with lotus flower and leaf sculptures. The surface of the top is decorated with mother-of-pearl designs of the patterns of lotus flowers, fish, and turtles. Collection: Ho Am Art Museum, Seoul, Korea.
Iljuban. H. 36cm, diameter 24cm. Mother-of-pearl inlay. Lacquer.
The top plate and rim are made in the shape of a lotus leaf, and the leaf veins of the lotus leaf, two turtles, lotus flowers and fish are inlayed with mother-of-pearl.
Iljuban. H. 26cm, Maximum diameter 31,8cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
Iljuban. H. 23cm, Diameter: 33cm.
Collection National Museum of Korea.
This soban has a very unusual design. It is called “half Moon soban”. On three legs, the top has an half moon shape. There are three leg plates under the top plate and iris flower patterns are engraved on each leg plate. Collection: National Museum of Korea.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *