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Ladies Knife


Artwork Details

Ladies Knife
19th century
5 11/16 x 7/8 in. (14.3 x 2.1 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund


Subject Matter:

It was used with Korean traditional ornaments worn by women. But in emergency, it was used for self-protection or attack. This traditions happened in Gorye dynasty and became general in Joseon Dynasty.

Physical Description:

It is a knife made of silver. The sword blade was made of steel. Floral design was printed on the knob and Deer and bamboo was printed on the cover.

This small knife is worn by a man. The handle and sheath are decorated with ten symbols of longevity against ring-punched background. The other side features engravings of plantains and lotus buds. Plantain symbolizes resuscitation from death and is one of the Eight Treasures of Taoism. The lotus flower symbolizes purity and the law of cause and effect as it emerges from mud (dirt) and bears seeds.

[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2017) p. 285]


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