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Table top

Table top

  • Place of origin:

    Korea (made)

  • Date:

    1850-1950 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Inlaid Wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The surface of this wooden table top has been inlaid with mother-of-pearl and covered with black lacquer. Four squirrels or chipmunks are depicted, playing and nibbling on a fruiting vine. The table is a portable one, suitable for use in a Korean home. Its legs do not survive. The table would hold meals carried from the kitchen to the living quarters. The diners would eat while sitting on the floor. The maker's identity is not known, but the use of squirrels and scrolling vines as a decorative motif is widespread in 19th century Korean arts.

Physical description

The table top is decorated with inlaid mother of pearl clusters of fruiting grapevines and squirrels, framed by a border of fret-work.
This table top probably formed part of a portable serving/dining table known as a soban. These were small four-legged tables with rectangular or circular tray tops. In a traditional Korean house, food and drink was brought in from the kitchen on these individual tables and placed in front of the person about to dine.

Colour: Black

Place of Origin

Korea (made)


1850-1950 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Inlaid Wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl


Height: 1.5 cm, Width: 45 cm, Depth: 36.2 cm

Descriptive line

Woo, Korea, furniture, lacquer

Production Note

Styles/Period should be both Choson and Japanese Colonial, but the system is refusing to accept Japanese Colonial even though I have entered a new (unauthorised) term into the Thesaurus, Rupert Faulkner 11 August 2009




East Asia Collection

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