1860, chestnut wood frame, pear wood inlay, Kangwha Island, Korea. One hundred Chinese characters were inlaid instead of painted on.
This chest was found after the Japanese Occupation on Kangwha Island, a political prison colony for the Kingdom of Korea for two thousand years. It was likely used by a member of the elite class of scholars who found himself in disfavor with the Court and was sent into exile. Scholars of yore had to be proficient in the Chinese language and knowledge to be able to hold high office in the palace. The chest has the Chinese character “fortune” in 100 different style writing all with same meaning inlaid all over the front. The sides and top are completely covered with a diamond design signifying richness. The chest survived in excellent condition and is certified by a government-approved appraiser in the 1900s.