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Two-tiered chest with stand, approx. 1800-1850

Two-tiered chest with stand, approx. 1800-1850

Two-tiered chest with stand, approx. 1800-1850. Korea. Lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl inlay. Gift of Evelyn B. McCune in memory of George McAfee McCune, 1992.30.1-.3.

Two- or three-tiered chests inlaid with mother-of-pearl were an integral element of elite Korean women's quarters, which during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) were separated from the men's. Women's rooms served both as spaces for women and as centers of family activity. Chests for women's rooms, therefore, were made in a warm style with bright colors in order to create a pleasant family atmosphere. While most men preferred simple furniture made of undecorated wood, most women preferred lacquered furniture lavishly inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Women of affluent families tended to favor expensive red lacquer chests like this one over the more commonplace black ones. Similar red-lacquered chests inlaid with mother-of-pearl were used by women at the Joseon court.

The tiers of this chest are embellished with identical designs: landscapes with figures, chrysanthemum motifs, and simplified lotus flowers splendidly inlaid with motherof- pearl. The tiers can be arranged side by side or on top of each other. Women used chests such as this to store clothing and other personal items.