Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Lacquered wooden box with inlaid decoration of peony scrolls in mother-of-pearl.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 17thC-18thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 11.2 centimetres
    • Length: 31.5 centimetres
    • Width: 39 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        underside of box
      • Inscription Language

  • Curator's comments

    Portal 2000:
    The dating of early Choson lacquer is problematic and there is, at present, no clear chronology. A predominant feature of early Choson period inlay is the use of scrolling vines or flowers, usually peonies or lotuses. In general, early Choson inlaid lacquer does not use metal wire for the vine or flower scroll, but thin strips of shell. Sveral different types of flowers moreover grow from the same scroll. Very early fifteenth-century pieces frequently feature ogival panels and backgrounds densely filled, often in the form of circular dots. Leaves and petals are represented on the inlaid shells by a crackled pattern. By the seventeenth century the flowers and leaves are simpler and the flower or vine scroll becomes more regular and geometric, with the flowers being open rather than closed. Metal wire is agin used and there is only one type of flower on each scroll. On the basis of this features, the British Museum's box can be dated to the sixteenth-seventeenth century.2016 National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage catalogue entries:

    'The body and the lid of this rectangular wooden box are inlaid with lotus and scroll designs. The four corners of the lid are fitted and joined with nails, but the lid and the body are now slightly cracked. The edges of the lid are bordered with a line inlaid by a cutting technique, and the scrolling vines on the lid are accompanied with lotus flowers in full bloom and buds as well. Water drop motifs are also inlaid in the spaces between the vines. The bottom of the box is fixed to the body with seven nails on each of the four sides. Characters are written in ink on the black-lacquered bottom. Museums in Korea also have several lacquered boxes similar to this one.'

    '몸체와 뚜껑 전체에 연화당초문을 시문한 방형의 함이다. 베싸개를 하지 않고 목재 표면에 바로 옻칠을 올렸다. 뚜껑은 네 귀를 사개물림하고 못을 하나씩 박아 만들었다. 몸체 바닥은 맞대고 사방에 각각 7개씩 못을 박았다. 바닥은 흑칠하였고 ‘천상물天上物, 랑계물郞計物’ 이라는 묵서명이 있다. 뚜껑 상판 둘레는 끊음질한 직선의 나전으로 구획하였다. 그 안에 큰 곡선을 그리는 당초 넝쿨을 끊음질하여 표현했다. 넝쿨 끝에는 만개한 연꽃과 봉오리가 번갈아가며 배치되었으며 잎은 성글게 달려 있다. 여백에는 물방울 무늬를 배치하였다. 몸체 및 뚜껑 옆면에는 연화당초문이 서로 이어지도록 시문되었다. 연꽃과 당초잎은 줄음질한 자개로 표현되었는데 기면에 부착할 때 곡면의 자개를 편평하게 눌러 균열을 낸 타발법이 사용되었다. 국내에도 이와 유사한 양식의 나전상자가 일부 전하고 있다.'


  • Bibliography

    • National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage 2016 Cat. 172; p.334, no.491 bibliographic details
    • 국립문화재연구소 2016 Cat. 172; p.334, no.491 bibliographic details
    • Portal 2000 figure 71 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G93/dc7/sH

  • Exhibition history


    2014 Oct - , BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from Prehistory to the Present'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Lacquer box with mother-of-pearl inlay


COMPASS Title: Lacquer box with mother-of-pearl inlay

Image description



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