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Antique Collection

Lacquer Box 
With Inlaid Mother-of-pearl Floral Scroll Pattern

15th - 16th Century, Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1897.

This extremely rare rectangular lidded box exhibits a remarkable composition of materials and intricate craftsmanship. The outer wooden surface is coated with a brown lacquer, skilfully adorned with delicate inlays of mother-of-pearl derived from abalone shells. The interior and bottom of the box feature a sleek black lacquer finish.

It is plausible to consider that the current brownish hue observed on the box may have undergone a fading process over time, potentially originating from an initial black coloration. Such colour transformation can be attributed to the natural ageing and exposure to environmental factors.

The decorative elements on all sides of the box consist of meticulously arranged rows of floral scrolls. This ornate design, characterised by its dense and leafy pattern, can be traced back to the early years of the Goryeo dynasty. The inclusion of such intricate motifs reflects the artistic sensibilities and aesthetic preferences prevalent during that historical period.

As for the specific function and purpose of this box, it is challenging to determine with absolute certainty. Given its size and structure, it is conceivable that it could have been utilised for various purposes. One possibility is that it served as a storage container for Buddhist documents, safeguarding important texts and relics. Alternatively, its dimensions suggest that it could have been employed to store stationary items such as brushes and ink, catering to the needs of scholars and calligraphers of the time. However, without further corroborating evidence, the exact use of the box remains open to interpretation.

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