국립중앙박물관 NATIONAL MUSEUM OF KOREA

Highlights
Ox-horn Plated Box
  • Exhibition Name

    Ox-horn Plated Hwagak Box

  • Culture/Period

    Joseon Dynasty

  • Materials

    Wood

  • Category

    Housing - Daily Utensils - Furniture - Chest with Hinged Front Flap

  • Dimensions

    H. 24.3cm, 34.1x21.8cm

  • Accession Number

    Bongwan 8962

  • Location

    Wood and Lacquer Crafts

Hwagak (華角) refers to a unique type of craftwork made with ox horns that have been cut and flattened into thin, translucent sheets. One side of these sheets would be painted with patterns or images, and then the painted side was attached to a wooden surface as decoration. Since ox horns are usually rather small, dozens of them were required to fully decorate even a small wooden object. Thus, hwagak crafts are known to be very complicated and difficult to produce. However, because of their vibrant, colorful decorative effect, hwagak products were quite popular, especially among women. This box is decorated with an array of plants and animals, including peonies, cranes, tigers, deer, turtles, and carp, as well as images of the Immortal Child (童子), who can be seen riding some of the animals against the bright red backdrop. The theme of the Immortal Child sitting astride an animal comes from Taoism, and was a common trope of hwagak. The top of the lid has a black border, and there is a taegeuk (yin-yang symbol) in each of the four corners. Arch-shaped iron handles are attached to the front and back of the box.