Published Sep 30 2013, by

Woman’s incidental box (pit –chop)


In Joseon period Korea, upper-class women used these beautifully decorated boxes primarily for storing combs, cosmetics, and hairpins. Typically such boxes have one large drawer above and one below, with two smaller ones in the center. Each drawer has a carefully crafted pull attached with pins through to the inside. The fronts of the drawers have various auspicious patterns created with inlaid mother-of-pearl. The four pairs of animals—ducks, deer, tortoise, and chickens—symbolize marital bliss, while the hexagonal tortoiseshell pattern represents longevity. The technique of inlaying mother-of-pearl was probably learned from exposure to Chinese imported objects as early as the 10th century, during the Goryeo period. One famous example from this early period, with inlaid mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell and brass wires, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.