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Discovering traditional Korean furniture

Far from being a mere relic of the past, traditional Korean furniture offers a fascinating insight into the country's ancestral culture and way of life. Far more than mere functional objects, this furniture embodies a harmony between man and nature, a philosophy of life imbued with respect and simplicity.

Set of furniture and ceramics, South Korea, kept at the Musée Guimet, (c) MNAAG, Paris, Dist. GrandPalaisRmn / Jean-Yves and Nicolas Dubois

Traditional Korean furniture is characterised by its extensive use of wood, a noble and abundant material on the Korean peninsula. The most commonly used species are pine, elm and chestnut, valued for their robustness and natural beauty. The most common assembly technique, 'jangseok', requires no nails, a testament to unrivalled craftsmanship handed down from generation to generation.

Far from extravagance and opulence, traditional Korean furniture favours sober, uncluttered lines. This apparent simplicity reflects a profound wisdom, a search for balance and harmony between man and his environment. The furniture is designed to be functional and multi-functional, ingeniously meeting the essential needs of everyday life.

Wooden cabinet, Korea, late 19th century, kept at the MET in New York

Each piece of traditional Korean furniture has a poetic name that evokes its function and place in daily life. These include the buro, a small coffee table used for reading and calligraphy, the jangdok, a wooden food chest used to keep food fresh, and the banji, a clothes chest with multiple compartments.

Traditional Korean furniture is inextricably linked with the 'hanok', the traditional Korean house. Its low dimensions and horizontal lines blend perfectly with the low, uncluttered architecture of the hanok, creating a peaceful atmosphere conducive to contemplation.

Wooden chest, Korea, Choson period, 19th century, appraised by Gauchet Art Asiatique for Millon auction house, sold for €1,300

Today, traditional Korean furniture is increasingly rare, threatened by industrialisation and the adoption of Western styles. However, there is a renewed interest in this ancestral craft, driven by passionate craftsmen and initiatives to preserve this precious heritage.

Far from being mere decorative objects, traditional Korean furniture represents a journey through time, an immersion in a culture rich in traditions and ancestral values. Their timeless beauty, functionality and respect for the environment make them unique and precious pieces, capable of bringing a touch of authenticity and serenity to our modern interiors.

Small royal table in lacquered wood, Korea, Joseon dynasty, 19th century, appraised by Gauchet Art Asiatique for Millon auction house, sold for €24,000

If you own a piece of traditional Korean furniture and would like to know its origin, value and history, Gauchet Art Asiatique is at your disposal to offer expert appraisals and valuations.

With its expertise and passion for Asian art, Gauchet Art Asiatique will help you authenticate and appraise your piece of furniture, so that you can better understand and appreciate its heritage value.

Please do not hesitate to contact Gauchet Art Asiatique for any further information or to arrange an appraisal appointment.

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