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Ch'aekkori Screen
Ch'aekkori Screen, Mid- 19th century
Ink and color on silk; mounted as a ten-fold screen
Each panel: 47 x 12 inches (119.4 x 30.5 cm) Each mount: 68 x 17 inches (172.7 x 43.2 cm)
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by the Korean Heritage Group, the Hollis Family Foundation Fund, and the Henry B. Keep Fund, 2002
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About This Screen

These are panels of a ch’aekkori (che-ko-ree or "scholar's books and utensils") folding screen. Such screens celebrate the life of the Confucian literati of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), depicting the sorts of objects, books, and tools with which a highly educated man would surround himself. Korean scholars were trained in the Chinese tradition, and were great admirers and collectors of Chinese ceramics, scrolls, brush pots, and inkstones. Ch’aekkori screens became extremely popular in Korea in the 1700s and 1800s, often substituting for the expensive Chinese objects.

At the top of one panel is an organic-shaped seal on a stack of books. The seal—used to stamp one's name on a document or painting—symbolizes power and authority. An arrangement that includes calligraphy brushes, scrolls, and a peacock feather in a vase announces the owner’s academic achievement. Suspended from this arrangement is a European-style golden watch and a tassel, evidence of the wealth of the patron. An inkstone and ink stick sit on a long, wooden piece of furniture at the bottom.

In another panel, above a tall stack of books, a bowl of pomegranates, peaches, and citrus fruits sits on a four-legged stand. These fruits represent wishes for plentiful offspring and long life. Above the bowl hangs a lantern, and nearby a ceramic teapot sits on a stand.

The artist has rendered all the objects in great detail and subdued colors, reflecting the refined taste of the cultured patron who commissioned the screen. All the objects are displayed randomly as if they are floating in space. The three-dimensional quality of some of the objects, achieved using shading and linear perspective, attests to this artist’s familiarity with Western European art.

Learn more about the life of the literati in Korea.

This object is included in Learning from Asian Art: Korea, a teaching kit developed by the Division of Education and made possible by a grant from the Freeman Foundation of New York and Stowe, Vermont.

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