Ca 1880; persimmon, pine; Kyung Ki Do Province. Rare finding after war; exceptional construction complimented by wood and brass fittings; certified. 73½” h. 39¼” w. 23½” d.
This tall chest comes in three stacked sections and was used to store a military officer’s uniforms and personal belongings. The top section consists of a row with three drawers. Below this row is a big storage compartment with latticed doors, with storage space expanded behind a decorative row of three panels below the pair of doors. This compartment is for storing bulky uniforms. Below this spacious compartment is a small storage space behind swivel doors for smaller personal items. The next section is a small storage unit with lockable doors opening outwards. The last section consists of a narrow storage compartment behind a pair of lockable doors, sitting on top of a long drawer with a recessed apron forming the base of this tall chest. This base apron is decorated with relief carving of a gourd over each end.
This chest uses elm or pine as its core wood and persimmon wood for the front panels. All the sections, except the big drawer at the bottom, are lined with rice paper or old textbook pages to protect storage contents against changing temperature damage. The persimmon front panels exhibit the highly decorative dark grain figuration of the wood against a light-colored background to produce balanced mirror images that resemble paintings. Beautiful stylized “ruyi” and swallow-tail brass fittings compliment the persimmon front panels. A military uniform chest as spectacularly constructed as this one must have been made for a general officer. This chest was certified in the 1900s by a Professor of Korean History and Antiquity. This chest is very rare as according to him, a uniform chest of this caliber is not known to have survived in Korea.