The Korean peninsula is geographically situated on the North Chinese Coast has received cultural influences from China and has played a crucial role in their transmission from continental Asia to Japan. A turbulent history and a harsh climate have prevented the survival of fragile artifacts in Korea, and antique Korean lacquerwares are rare.
It is thought Chinese techniques of lacquer-making were transmitted to Korea as early as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 221 A.D.). Over time, the Korean artisan did not follow the Chinese and Japanese interest in the plastic or textural qualities of lacquer, but they came to favor the technique called "ping-tao" (najon in Korean) of inlaying shells and other materials, such as metal or tortoise shell, on a lacquer ground to form a design. In "najon" works, the lacquer itself has no decorative role other than to form a lustrous background.
The circular box has aged to a warm deep brown color. The decorative elements-- mother-of-pearl applied over a large surface, inlaid floral scrolls, embedded twisted wire, and a rough band of sharkskin--are all character-istic features of 18th century Korean lacquerwares.