Ca 1870, Yi Dynasty; zelkova, original thick ironwork; Cheon Chu City, Cheon Ra Buk Do Province, certified. 35″ w, 12.75″ d, 42.5″ h.
Cheon Chu City is known to have produced some of the finest furniture in Korea because this was the financial center of Korea with a rich merchant class, and also the city where members of the elite scholar class gathered to prepare to take an open Imperial Examination the passing of which guaranteed upward mobility. While waiting, these upper-class people could afford to commission quality furniture for their homes.
The high quality of this chest is shown by the use of zelkova, a highly valued wood in Korea and Japan, as well as the use of thick ironwork. It is restrained in design, in keeping with the Neo-Confucianism literati’s flavor of always attempting ” to reduce artifice to a minimum with intention of making the most of the material used”. The zelkova on this chest shows beautiful grains, complimenting the thick, beautifully wrought iron metal carved with symbolic motifs. It projects a profile of simplicity and elegance.
This is a double chest but is in one piece. The chest was used for storing clothes. It is certified as quite rare by a Korean Professor of Korean History and Antiquity, one of only thirteen certifiers approved by the Korean government in the 1900s.