Lacquer box with mother-of-pearl inlay


British Museum

British Museum

During the Choson dynasty (1392-1910), lacquer was used predominantly on boxes and furniture for domestic use by the aristocracy. Chests, low tables, clothes boxes, cosmetic cases, document boxes and sewing utensils were all decorated with lacquer and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell and sometimes sharkskin. This box is inlaid with mother-of-pearl in a pattern of peony scrolls.Lacquer, made from the juice of the sumac tree, is very difficult to work with, as it does not dry in a normal atmosphere, but in a special room with extremely high humidity. It also causes severe skin irritation, to which the lacquer craftsmen only eventually develops an immunity.

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  • Title: Lacquer box with mother-of-pearl inlay
  • Date Created: 1500/1699
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 39.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: lacquered; inlaid
  • Subject: lotus
  • Registration number: 1979,1219.1
  • Production place: Made in Korea
  • Period/culture: Joseon Dynasty
  • Material: wood; mother-of-pearl; lacquer
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Garner, Harry M. Purchased from Garner