octagonal hinged box with mother of pearl exterior; metal hinges and decorative latch with 2 round cutout designs on either side; blue papered interior

Hat Box, 19th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

This hat box, entirely encrusted with pieces of abalone shell, was used to store a man’s inner hat, or tanggeon. Korean craftspeople used a special technique to create such objects. First a wooden box was coated with several layers of lacquer, onto which pieces of abalone shell were affixed. They then continued to coat the box with lacquer until the shell was completely covered. After the lacquer dried, they laboriously polished the surface with charcoal until the iridescent shell was revealed. Typical of Korean style, the mother-of-pearl is broken and reassembled in the manner seen here.

Details
Title
Hat Box
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2002.219.1
Curator Approved

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octagonal hinged box with mother of pearl exterior; metal hinges and decorative latch with 2 round cutout designs on either side; blue papered interior