Lacquered wood with mother–of–pearl, tortoiseshell, sharkskin, and brass–wire inlay, and brass fittings; 34 x 26 3/4 x 16 in. (86.4 x 67.9 x 40.6 cm)
Bequest of Franklin Jasper Walls, 1963 (63.121.1a,b)
Wood furniture, both decorated and plain, adorned the interiors of Joseon households. Most surviving pieces we see today date from the latter part of the Joseon dynasty and belonged to homes of the elite, rather than the commoner. Because Confucian mores dictated strict separation of male and female spaces within the home, furniture, too, was differentiated accordingly.
This lacquered and inlaid chest would have been used in the room of the mistress of an upper-class home (or possibly a female member of the royal court). It is lavishly decorated with mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, sharkskin, and brass, in motifs of phoenixes, flowers, and the yin-yang symbol (forming a circle). The doors open to reveal rows of drawers.