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Korean Cabinet with Butterfly Hinges

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Unknown Artist

Korean Cabinet with Butterfly Hinges

Wood, brass


Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: Deanery.324
Other Number(s): W.316 (Wyndham No.)
Geography: Asia
Classification: Furnishings and Furniture; Furniture
Culture/Nationality: Korean
Collection: Deanery Collection
Large cabinet (chang) with three sets of doors stacked vertically and four drawers across the top. Stands off the ground on four square, short legs. Traditionally, Korean homes were heated through the floors so furniture often was placed on stands or had feet to protect their contents. Front has lattice design in raised wood of rectangles and squares. Three sets of cabinet doors are stacked vertically and open into small compartments. The doors have round handles on metal plates that, when the cabinet is closed, form the shape of a butterfly. Small quarter-circle metal plates cover the four corners of each door and the doors are connected to the cabinet by butterfly-shaped hinges. The four drawers at the top have pull handles with flat plates.

The three-tiered cabinet with drawers (chang) is a common furniture piece from 19th century Korea. It was often used for clothing storage, but less decorated examples were used in areas of food preparation or storage. A large number of pieces would also have the lattice design and metal plating on corners. The decorative hinges are in the shape of a butterfly, which is a symbol for long life. While the Bryn Mawr piece does not have them, it is common for the pull handles to be in the shape of bats, as the Korean word for bat is a homophone for “good luck”.

M. Carey Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Garret purchased this chest in San Francisco for their home in the Deanery, where it stood in the lounge.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • Animalia - Kingdom containing multicellular organisms having cells bound by a plasma membrane and organized into tissue and specialized tissue systems that permit them to either move about in search of food or to draw food toward themselves. Unable to make their own food within themselves, as photosynthetic plants do, they rely on consuming preformed food. They possess a nervous system with sensory and motor nerves, enabling them to receive environmental stimuli and to respond with specialized movements.
  • brass - Alloy of copper and zinc, usually with copper as the major alloying element and zinc up to 40% by weight. For an alloy consisting mainly of copper, combined most often with tin, but at times also with other metals, use "bronze (metal)."
  • cabinets - Relatively small, private rooms, often adjacent to bedrooms in great houses, serving as sitting rooms, rooms for dressing, study, devotion, or private meetings, and, during certain periods, often containing collections of curiosities and art objects.
  • Korean - Culture and style of peoples from the East Asian peninsula of Korea.
  • Papilionoidea - Members of a superfamily containing around 14,000 species of insects belonging to four families. The wings, bodies, and legs of butterflies, like those of moths, are covered with dustlike scales. Unlike moths, butterflies are active during the day and are usually brightly colored or strikingly patterned. Perhaps the most distinctive physical features of the butterfly are its club-tipped antennae and its habit of holding the wings vertically over the back when at rest.
  • wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Manufacturers' Appraisal Company, 1949 Manufacturers' Appraisal. 1949
    Page Number: 16
  • Manufacturers' Appraisal Company, 1954 Manufacturers' Appraisal. 1954
    Page Number: 20
  • Beth McKillop, Korean Art and Design Victoria and Albert Museum; University Press. Cambridge, MA, 1992
    Figure Number: 69; 73

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • Edward Reynolds Wright and Man Sill Pai. Korean Furniture (New York, NY: Kodansha International Ltd., 1984), p. 30-32; 125-127. Figure Number: no. 6-8

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Korean Cabinet with Butterfly Hinges |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=8/10/2022 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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