The flat iron plate with quatrefoil shape and the design of a dragon in midst of clouds. It has three holes: one for blade (middle) flanked by two deformed oval-shape holes (for kougai and kozuka). Around the blade hole, there is the carver’s signature. The design of a dragon, among stylized clouds, is intricately carved in high relief; the dragon has almost three-dimensional quality. On the back, the dragon tail, some parts of the body, one claw are peeking from clouds. The dragon coils around the center holes. The rims of the three circles are wavy, as if they are the part of the cloud design. The stoppers on the blade hole edges are made of gold. Some silver inlays are applied on the dragon’s eye blow and some nails.
Tsuba (sword guard) is inserted between a sword handle and blade to protect hands from sharp blades. The center hole is where the sword is placed. A smaller hole on the left is to place an ornamental stick, kozuka. Another hole on the right is to insert kougai, spatula-like sticks which are said to be used for itching hair underneath hats or helmets. The dragon is a popular motif in Eastern Asian culture. In Chinese tradition, the mythical creature is associated with the eastern direction and blue-green color. The dragon was also linked with water (oceans, rivers, mist and clouds), symbolizing the dark, wet, and nurturing female qualities of in-yô (Chinese: yin-yang) cosmology. Thus, the animal is often accompanied with some form of water; in this case, clouds. Japan took from China the habit of associating the dragon with the imperial institution, Buddhism, and the virtue of vigilance. (Reference: Baird, Merrily. Symbols of Japan)
A stoneware vessel designed for pouring or possibly to serve as an oil lamp, in the shape of a duck. The lower half of the duck's body and "legs" are formed by a shallow bowl on an openwork pedestal; the sides of the bowl have been compressed to make an elongated shape. The upper half of the duck's body, and its neck and head are formed by hand, The duck's body is hollow, with two aperture: liquids can be poured in through a funnel with a cup-shaped mouth on the duck's back, and liquids can be poured out through a wide opening at the tail.
Ancient Koreans believed birds were the messengers to the spirit world because they can travel over land and water and through the sky. In villages figures of birds can still be seen atop tall wooden poles, recalling their earlier importance. Because they mate for life, even today Koreans especially favor ducks. Many duck-shaped vessels have been discovered in tombs in the ancient regions of Gaya and Silla, suggesting their importance in those ancient cultures (42 - 562)
Lacquered wooden box with inlaid mother-of-pearl in double-dragon design. The heads of each dragon stretch diagonally inward from opposite corners of the box, with wide eyes and open mouths. Their bodies curve in and out of the top plane of the box, creating an opposing effect with symmetrical balance. The dragons reach forward towards a flaming orb in the center of the box, called a cintamani, or Buddhist wish-granting jewel. Among the dragons are swirling cloud designs made of inlaid nacre and copper wire.
Box decorated with double-dragons reaching for cintamani (Buddhist wish-granting jewel).
Clear glass saucer with milky, iridescent free-standing form in the center shaped like a rabbit.
Inspired by the Art Nouveau movement, which was characterized by organic forms and motifs derived from nature, René Lalique’s works—often featuring various flora and fauna including animals, such as the rabbit seen here—played with the effects of transparency and surface treatment.
A round water dropper in the shape of a curled fish. There are two holes, one located in the middle, near the tail fin, and the other near the head on the dorsal fin. The fish is a white and cobalt blue color.
The shapes of water droppers often held symbolic significance. The fish represents diligence, vigilance, and academic success, making it a fitting symbol for a scholar.
This mirror features designs of two birds, coupled with floral motifs, positioned symmetrically on the left and right sides. Eight-foiled barbed bronze mirror is general. This type is a modified form of that.
This type mirrors have survived in great numbers, and are being continuously discovered in Goryeo period tombs.