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Antique Collection

Royal Family Document Box

6cm x 23cm x 20.5cm, Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1897)

Jinko Wood with Brass Fittings

Wooden boxes of various sizes and forms were used to store object such as books, documents, jewels, clothes and scholars utensils during the Joseon period. This box has a lid which opens almost all the way, with hinges dividing the top surface. This style of box, given these characteristics, is believed to have been produced in the Gyunggi area of Korea, where the capital Seoul is located. The box, or 'ham' shown here was used to hold the genealogical record book for the Prince Hyo-ryung (1369-1486), the second son of King Sejong.

The inscription on the top of the box reads 'Prince Jeng-hyo's (pen name of Prince Hyo-ryung) family tree book', and 'Jeoksang-san (mountain) Seonwon-gak (building) upper'. 'Upper' suggests that this box was stored in the upper shelves in the Seonwon-gak building - a site built specifically for storing the genealogical records of the Korean Royal Family. It was originally constructed in 1641, and then later reconstructed in 1872, during the 8th year of King Kojong's reign - the last King of the Joseon dynasty.

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