An array of items from the scholar’s studio
In Korea, screen paintings were essentially used as room decorations. Screens designed for women’s quarters were usually decorated with peonies, symbols of fertility and prosperity, while screens for the men’s quarters (sarangbang), were decorated with chaekkori (literally books and scholarly ‘equipment’, also spelled chaekgeori). Here we can see books, writing brushes, inkstones, auspicious fruits with many seeds, and Chinese porcelain and bronzes.
As a strict Confucian state, the Choson (Joseon) dynasty (1392–1910) regarded scholars as belonging to a very respectable profession, and having superior social status. Here the depiction of items from the scholar’s studio, with traditional bookcases as the main motif, symbolizes success in the national civil service examination, or the holding of a high-ranking government post. The objects portrayed are clear evidence of the civil official’s aspirations to rise to the top level of government.
A chaekkori screen was considered ideal for display behind the desk in a scholar’s study, where it conveyed an air of dignity, luxury and a reverence for scholarship.
J. Portal, Korea – art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)