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04. Books and Scholar’s Accouterments (Chaekkori)

Early 20th century, Korea

Eight-panel folding screen, ink and color on paper, full mounted: 10 7/8 x 47 7/8 in(27.5 x 121.5 cm)

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Books and Scholar’s Accouterments (Chaekkori)
Early 20th century, Korea
Eight-panel folding screen, ink and color on paper
full mounted: 10 7/8 x 47 7/8 in(27.5 x 121.5 cm)

Chaekkgori (books and scholar’s equipment) screens symbolize knowledge and wealth particularly during the reign of King Jeongjo (r. 1776-1800). The screens were placed behind every desk in the men’s quarters throughout the palace and soon every gentry household decorated their rooms in the same fashion. Rising demand of these screens led professional court painters such as Kim Hong-do (1745-?) to pursue this specific type of screen.

In both court and folk screens, there are three principal types of chaekkori compositional for mats. The first and most elegant type represented
an actual bookcase. Artists were able to play with linear perspective and chiaroscuro within this format.

The second type, such as the screen above, is the isolated format where scholar’s objects float against a blank background. This type of screens were painted under royal patronage, by court painters, for the court circle and upper class.

The third type is the tabletop format in which objects are placed on or around a table surface in order to ground the image.

The Korean chaekkori theme depicts scholarly paraphernalia - books, bronzes, ceramics, flowerarrangements, bowls of fruit and miniature land scapes - all objects appropriate for a Confucian scholar’s study of the Joseon period (1392-1910).

Always present were “The Four Friends of the Scholar” - paper, ink, brush and inkstone. It was up to the artist to choose from a vast array of items and to determine which ones and how many he wished to paint. Generally the subject matter is secular in nature. While some objects might be seen to carry religious connotation because of their association with Buddhism and Taoism, by the Joseon period they probably conveyed auspicious wishes.

Selected Collections
The Art Institute of Chicago
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
The British Museum
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

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