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sutra-holder

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1966,1221.1

  • Description

    Lacquered wooden box for storing Buddhist sutras. The decoration in mother-of-pearl and silver wire of peony scrolls and stylized chrysanthemum is paralleled by that inlaid on celadons of the same period.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 13thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 25 centimetres
    • Width: 47.5 centimetres
    • Height: 25.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Zwalf 1985

    This ‘sūtra’ box is decorated with a stylised chrysanthemum design similar to that found on contemporary Korean celadons. It was probably made by the government office established by King Wŏnjong to hold the Buddhist scriptures reprinted after the Mongol invasions. Such boxes are very rare, and this example is remarkable in that the clasp, hinges and original leather interior are in perfect condition.Portal 2000:
    There are only about fourteen extant pieces of Koryo lacquer, but their quality is evidence of the high level of skill attained by Koryo lacquer workers. Eight of them are for Buddhist use, being rectangular sutra boxes, such as this one. The suggestion has been made that these boxes may have been used to contain the printed 'Triptika Koreana', but the sizes of all the boxes differ and differ also from the size of the woodblocks. It is, however, recorded in the "Koryo sa" that a special government agency was set up in 1272, at the request of the wife of Kublai Khan, to manufacture lacquer cases for a set of the Tripitaka. These eight sutra boxes are distinguished by dense and regular decoration of stylized chrysanthemum scrolls inlaid in mother-of-pearl with twisted silver or copper wire. They also have peony scrolls lining the borders, which are very similar to those on Yuan Chinese inlaid lacquer. Both the use of iridescent haliotis shells and the incising of the shells are also similar to Yuan lacquer inlay. Dating of these boxes to the second half of the thirteenth century has been proposed by Okada Jo. Precise dating of Koryo lacquer is, however, impossible at present.2016 National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage catalogue entries:

    'This black-lacquered wooden box was used for storing Buddhist sutras during the Goryeo period. Each side is bordered with twisted copper wires, and the inner and outer areas of the wire frames are inlaid with chrysanthemum and scroll designs and peony and scroll designs, respectively. The petals of the chrysanthemums and peonies are incised with very detailed lines, and a band of bead motifs and another chrysanthemum and scroll design are incised below the wire frames. The box and the lid are joined with a square hinge. The box was originally brown, but is presumed to have been lacquered in black at a later date.'

    '고려시대에 경전을 담아 두었던 함으로서 나전을 줄음질하여 극히 세밀하게 장식한 수작이다. 두 줄의 동선을 꼬아 모서리와 경계 부분을 구획하였고 당초 줄기도 동선으로 표현하였다. 나전 꽃잎은 오려낸 후 살치기[毛彫, 매우 가는 선각기법]로 세부를 묘사하였다. 경함 내측에는 흑칠하였다. 몸체와 뚜껑의 각 면에 꼰 동사로 테를 두르고 그 안에 국화당초문을 시문하였다. 테두리 바깥 쪽에는 모란당초문을 장식하였다. 몸체 하단의 테두리에는 연주문대聯珠文帶를 두르고 그 바깥에 국화당초문을 배치하였다. 장석의 앞바탕은 방형이며 약과형藥果形 들쇠가 달려있다. 원래의 바탕색은 갈색이었으나 후에 보수하면서 흑칠한 것으로 보인다'

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  • Bibliography

    • Zwalf 1985 346 bibliographic details
    • Sakamoto 2011 98, 99, fig. 38 bibliographic details
    • National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage 2016 Cat. 169; p.334, no.488 bibliographic details
    • 국립문화재연구소 2016 Cat. 169; p.334, no.488 bibliographic details
    • Portal 2000 figure 51 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited: 2000 - 2014 Nov, BM Galleries, Korea Gallery 67 2014 17 Dec - onwards, BM Galleries, Korea Foundation Gallery, Room 67
    2015 2 July - 13 Sep, Seoul, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Exquisite and Precious

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1966

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1966,1221.1

Lacquered wooden box for storing Buddhist sutras. The decoration in mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell and silver wire of peony scrolls and stylized chrysanthemum is paralleled by that inlaid on celadons of the same period. .

3/4: Right

Lacquered wooden box for storing Buddhist sutras. The decoration in mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell and silver wire of peony scrolls and stylized chrysanthemum is paralleled by that inlaid on celadons of the same period. .

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Object reference number: RRC14629

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