May 31, 2016 - Dec 31, 2016

Wood · Craft

Ewha Womans University Museum

Ewha Womans University 130th Anniversary Special Exhibition

WOOD· CRAFT
Ewha Womans University Museum presents a special woodcraft collection exhibition titled Wood·Craft in celebration of the 130th anniversary of the university’s foundation. This exhibition was designed to look back on the usefulness and beauty of furniture and crafts made of wood. As wood is nature’s longest and most basic resource, it has been around in the life of mankind for a long period of time. Wood has served as the most basic material to build shelters to live in and tools to use. Therefore, it is wood craftsmanship that reveals the basic skills and wisdom of those living in a certain region. A total of about 100 objects displayed for this exhibition are Korean furniture and crafts that were produced and used from the Joseon dynasty to modern times. Next to ceramics, wood crafts are the largest holdings in the University Museum’s collections. The University Museum has collected a wide variety of relics and donations since its foundation, some of which would be singled out for special events (in the case of the university inviting prominent figures from overseas) or displayed in the president’s office to highlight the beauty of Korea and the rich cultural tradition of the university.This exhibition presents a vast array of wood crafts that were made in consideration of space and the user,such as a bookshelf and desk in the study of a scholar, a document chest and wardrobe, along with a comb box and a dressing stand, placed in the women’s quarters, and a small portable dining table used in the kitchen—all of which are displayed in different sections according to use and design, demonstrating the material properties of wood, its aesthetic values, and history.
Shelves and Desks
Shelves for storing books or stationery, seoan (desk) and gyeongsang (reading table) were commonly used in the men’s quarters or sarangbang. These three or four-tiered shelves were classified as such since they have an open design on every side and a shelf for a document chest or a cabinet for storing objects. Bookshelves for storing a collection of books were also made. Desks varied in size and length. Short desks were used for reading books and long desks, some of which had shelves or drawers below to increase their utility, were used in writing on scrolls of paper. The upper class and the royal family often used a black or red-lacquered desk, but most shelves and desks were made with finely textured wood grain chosen for its natural beauty, and were not heavily decorated by, for example, rubbing the wood with ash to remove gloss. Shelves and desks with elegance and the beauty of restraint were a symbol of the spirit of Joseon’s scholars.
Cabinets
Jang and nong (cabinets) were the main storage units for keeping clothes or other household items in the main room of a house. They were designed as two or three-tiered structures, and their legs functioned to block heat or humidity from the floor. The main difference between jang and nong is that jang has an integrated design with no tiers, while nong has separate tiers. Jang were categorized in two ways: according to usage such as a wardrobe, a cabinet for socks, a cabinet for blanket; and according to material such as a bamboo-sheathed cabinet, a cabinet with mother-of-pearl inlay, and a cabinet decorated with ox horn. nong was designed to be portable and easily stacked, with the door opening at the front of the cabinet for easy storage. Cabinets were typical items included for the hope chest of a bride during the Joseon dynasty, and their size and shape was determined by the economic status of the bride’s family and the volume of belongings of her husband’s family, in addition to the user’s personal taste and trends of the time. 
Soban
Soban is a tray-like table for carrying food from the kitchen to a room located across the courtyard for dining. Soban became popular during the Joseon dynasty when adults and children ate their meals separately, and in accordance to social rank individuals were served with separate dining tables. For this reason, households at that time usually had several soban. Therefore, soban were produced in various styles and shapes in consideration of class and function, and were classified according to regional characteristics: Haeju, Gangwon, Naju, and Tongyeong, among others. Soban for daily use usually has a shoulder-width diameter and a height no higher than chest level, which would be suitable to be carried in accordance with a traditional living style. However, the actual sizes and heights varied depending on function. The wood for soban had to be light and not prone to warping. Therefore, gingko, lime, and zelkova wood are the main materials used for soban.
Storage Chests and Cases
A storage chest is a rectangular box made of wood. There are two Korean types of chest. Bandaji (“ban” means “half” and “daji” means “closing”) is a chest whose front is divided into two parts and the top half is designed to open and close; it is also called apdaji (“ap” means “fore”); on the other hand, witdaji has a top panel which is divided into two parts and the front half is designed to open and close. A bandaji chest with a drop-hinged door on the front was used to keep various household supplies including clothes, books, and dishware. Various items such as blankets were placed on the top. As a piece of multi-purpose furniture, witdaji were usually placed and used in the main room, the sarangbang or men’s quarters, attic, shed, shrine, and government facilities.Ham is a box or case that has a deep interior and a flat lid attached with hinges for opening and closing. It was used to keep documents, seals, or valuables. A ham has a lock on the front and handles on both sides so that it can be easily transported. It was typically placed atop other furniture due to its small size. Since there are no hinges or ornaments on the top, two boxes could be easily stacked on top of one another. 
Ewha Womans University Museum
Credits: Story

Organized by Ewha Womans University Museum

Directed by Jang Namwon

Curated by Kim Joo-Yeon, Song In Hee, Shin Seung In, Lee Jeong-Sun, Jung Dahae, Hwang I-sook

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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