Overall: 10.1 x 9 cm (4 x 3 9/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1988.74
An 18th-century Korean collector Yu Man-joo (1755–1788) wrote that “spending money on luxury clothing, dishes, and decorations for the home is a waste, but acquiring fancy writing tools helps to develop elegant taste and high-mindedness.”
Inspired by aesthetic discourses on elegance versus vulgarity in late Ming Chinese literature, Korean collectors in the late 1700s and 1800s strove to assemble objects that would display their intellect and sophisticated taste. Stationery objects in particular—printed books, finely crafted brushes, brush holders, ink stones, water droppers, stone wares with grayish-white crackled glazes as well as bronze vessels, and incense burners—were all objects that reflected pure and elegant taste.
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