Wooden block painted cinnabar red with a carved floral design framing an inner square that contains six characters in the top and lower right, center, and left corners and a large character in the middle (“longevity”) with an image of two coins suspended from the wings of a stylized bat in the lower center.
Block for printing “longevity” money, which was used exclusively in the worship of deities to celebrate their birthdays, or as a means of thanking them for blessings already bestowed, or to ask for long life or other benefits. In addition to the large character for “longevity” in the center, the four characters at the top right, center, left, and at the lower margin express wishes for sons, emolument, wealth, and honor. A “double happiness” character is in each lower corner. Two coins are suspended from the wings of a stylized bat, a symbol of happiness because the pronunciation of the character for “bat’ (fu) is identical to that for happiness. To produce the “spirit money,” the carved images would be printed in red over a patch of gold foil placed on top of a wide orange-colored swatch painted on coarse paper.
This is a low pear wood storage chest, with three drawers and two doors. The butterfly and bat brass fittings for the hinges and drawer pulls add 'feminine' touches.
The women’s quarters of an upper-class Korean home in the Joseon dynasty were furnished with several types of storage chests and boxes, for bedding, clothing, sewing materials, stationery, and so forth.
This is a classic example of a bedside chest for a lady’s room. The brass fittings in the shape of butterflies and bats are symbols of good luck.
This mirror box is decorated with lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlaid designs. Thelid of the box opens upwards, and has brass hinges and a closure in the sahpe of a flower. The lower drawer has a handle in the shape of a bat.
Due to the strict visual codes in the Joseon period, lavish mother-of-pearl inlays were almost entirely limited to objects for wealthy women’s quarters.
Animals and plants associated with conjugal happiness and longevity often appear in pieces for women’s quarters. The drawer pull in the shape of a bat has auspicious connotations. The Korean word for bat, pok, is a homonym of the word meaning happiness.
Signature: incised in the image l.r.: Jacob Lawrence 53
Inscriptions and Marks: on removable backing board, l.l., written sideways with a blue colored pencil “#15”; u.c., with a blue colored pencil surrounded by an oval “112”; on liner, l.l., written sideways with a blue colored pencil “#15”; on tape covering upper member of the inner frame; u.r., written with a red colored pencil “44”
Eight abstracted figures (three kneeling in front and five standing in back) wearing orange tank tops and white shorts face the viewer; two basketballs and five trophies between figures in the foreground. Figures stand in front of a background of fragmented, arched and circular areas of color in blues and golds.
Jacob Lawrence drew upon his surroundings in Harlem, NY for influence and inspiration. His work often contains people in the African American community and their struggles, dreams and triumphs. “Champions” depicts a portrait of an African American basketball team resplendent with their five trophies. The schematic designs, flat space, angular figures, and fragmented, highly patterned surfaces of this piece are typical of his style.