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Mirror Box


Artwork Details

Mirror Box
19th century
lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay and brass? fittings
4 15/16 x 7 3/16 x 9 11/16 in. (12.5 x 18.2 x 24.5 cm)
Gift of Ellen and Richard Laing

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

Due to the strict visual codes in the Joseon period, lavish mother-of-pearl inlays were almost entirely limited to objects for wealthy women’s quarters.
Animals and plants associated with conjugal happiness and longevity often appear in pieces for women’s quarters. The drawer pull in the shape of a bat has auspicious connotations. The Korean word for bat, pok, is a homonym of the word meaning happiness.

Physical Description:

This mirror box is decorated with lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlaid designs. Thelid of the box opens upwards, and has brass hinges and a closure in the sahpe of a flower. The lower drawer has a handle in the shape of a bat.

This box has a mirror attached to the inside of its lid and was used by women. The box is decorated with hexagon and bamboo motifs by employing kkeuneumjil and jureumjil techniques. Hinges made of nickel are decorated with chiseled peonies on a ringmat ground. The corner brackets, or side wrappers, are in “I” shape. The single drawer has a handle in the shape of a bat, realistic to the extent of depicting antenna. Lacquer was heavily repainted on the base of the drawer. The frame of the mirror inside was decorated with fret-patterned band on left and right sides, and saw-tooth design on upper and lower sides.

[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2017) p. 266]

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