1880, cedar wood, brass fittings, found on Kangwha Island. 42″w, 24.5″ d, 27″ h.
This magnificent trunk, with incised brass-work ‘par excellence”, was found after the Japanese Occupation on an island which was a political prison colony for the Kingdom of Korea for two thousand years. All the extraordinary decorations on it indicate it belonged to someone of very high status, most likely a member of the royal family.
The medallion on the top of this trunk in Chinese character wishing the receiver “happiness” and those on the front meaning “long life” and “fortune” all point to the trunk given as a wedding present to the bride in the palace to store her wedding gifts and clothing. Political prisoners were allowed to take their personal belongings such as a favorite piece of furniture with them in exile because in that era furniture was not valued by the elite class and the government. The scholar/official elite class favored antique vases, calligraphy, paintings and what it considered important writings. This beautiful trunk is bound on all sides with brass-work that is heavily incised, and has unusual feet fashioned in the image of elephant heads with tusks. This trunk is probably one of the most beautiful wedding chests to come out of Korea. It survived in excellent condition and was certified as rare by an appraiser approved by the government in the 1900s.