“Chaekkori” are Korean still-life paintings that were popular during the latter part of the Joseon dynasty. Three-dimensional effects were commonly used in chaekkorias was reversed perspective, in which distant objects are shown larger than those nearby, thus flattening the pictorial surface. These different treatments of spatial illusion resulted in compositionswith a highly graphic feel that is enhanced by the decorative patterning on the depicted objects. It is clear that such still-life images did not have realism as a goal. Instead, chaekkori (defined as “painting[s] of books and associated things”) were seen as conveyers of cultural values. They were most often displayed within studios or schools and reflected reverence for scholarship and learning.
In this screen, scholarly tools are depicted along with flowers, plants, food, exotic imported objects, and religious implements. These motifs express varied meanings; for example, eggplant represents the promise of a long life, while musical instruments symbolize harmony among people. Such a profusion of auspicious meanings indicates that chaekkori may not have been restricted to the scholarly environment; they may also have served as talismans ensuring harmony within the home and beyond.