Black knit skirt. The bottom of the skirt has a border of, designed in red, words that read Bring the War Home Power to the People, with a line of stylized marching figures underneath, and a thin line of white at the skirt's hem.
All parts of this chest, including the back, were made from solid zelkova planks, a luxury wood related to elm but with a more pronounced grain. This specimen has escaped aggressive cleaning with modern compounds and retains its original patina. The dovetail joints between the lower front panel and sides and the back and side panels are superbly wrought. The iron lock plate in the middle of the front is fashioned into an auspicious character, bok (good fortune). The rectangular iron hinges and square supporting corner brackets are fashioned into Buddhist swastika patterns. The four arms of each swastika radiate out from the center like the spokes of a wheel, symbolizing the rotation of the universe around the cosmic Buddha.
Called a bandaji or “half-closing chest” because it is accessed by an upper front panel that is hinged and kept closed by a latch at the top center, this was the most common type of chest used in Korea for the storage of clothing or books. In Korean homes in this period, people sat on mats and slept on cotton-stuffed mattresses on floors heated by a radiant under-floor system called ondol. During the day, bedding was cleared and stacked up on top of the bandaji, so these sturdy chests came to be known as blanket chests in the West.
Recent Acquisitions Part II
March 31-August 5, 2012
Joseon Period (1392–1910)
Zelkova wood, iron fittings
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Fund, 2009/2.90
This painting shows a man seated on a bench, facing the viewer. He leans forward slightly and his right hand reaches across his body to point toward a group of coins on the ground. He is dressed in tattered clothing and his feet are bare. The bench where he is seated is inscribed with the letters: P. Q. P. C. /T. T. This is an outdoor scene with open sky in the background and some vegetation on a ledge above him, but there are no details to indicate the exact location. Another man is shown in the background at the right, walking hunched over and using a staff. There is a strong contrast between dark and light in this painting. The figure of the walking man and the dark shapes of buildings are outlined against the light backdrop of the sky. A strong warm light, from the left side of the painting, highlights the knees, hand and upper body of the seated man.
This painting is a portrait of the Greek philosopher, Crates of Thebes. The writings of biographer, Diogenes Laertius, relate that Crates gave up his wealth to devote himself to the Cynic philosophy. The Cynics embraced poverty and hardship and spoke against social conventions which they believed were an impediment to living in accord with nature. Crates was nicknamed, "Door Opener" from his habit of entering houses to offer advice. A saying attributed to him was, " That a man ought to study philosophy, up to the point of looking on generals and donkey drivers in the same light."
Here, Fetti has painted the philosopher, dressed in ragged clothing, as if he is speaking directly to the viewer. Crates is pointing to some coins on the ground beside him, perhaps a reference to his disgarded wealth or his life of poverty. The meaning of the initials carved on his bench is not known.