Ca 1880; persimmon wood, extinct white brass, “Double Happiness” in copper on lock-plates; certified Cheon Chu City, Korea 34.25″ w, 16.5″ d, 55.5″ h
Cheon Chu City, Korea, was once where wealthy financiers lived, and where many wealthy land-owning Yangban class gathered, preparing to take an open Imperial Examination the passing of which guarantees upward mobility. This elite class of people would commission quality furniture to decorate their homes.
This double chest is made from persimmon wood, split in such a way to take advantage of its contrasting dark and light grain patterns to create mirror images that resemble scenic paintings on the front panels. This technique perfected by Korean craftsmen takes away the need of elaborately painting and decorating a piece of furniture. The only decoration on wood is the use of metalwork. On this chest, white brass was used in lock-plates, hinges and corner braces. A distinctive “Double Happiness” motif in copper is incised on white brass on the lock-plate of each chest. Copper was a valuable metal and white brass alloy became extinct by the end of the 19th century, making this double chest a rare antique piece. It was likely made in bygone days for the wedding of a couple from an elite class. Brass handles at the sides of each chest make it easy to lift and move the chests. This piece is certified by a Professor of Korean History and Antiquity, one of only thirteen certifiers approved by the government in the 1900s.