This type of chest, formally known as a "won-ang sam-chung jang,"
can be considered a member of the morijang family. The morijang is a
one-level chest used for clothing and bedding, with three small drawers
along the top; the "won-ang" consists of three levels. The
mirror effect of the juxtaposed panels is wrought by slitting the wood
and using the inside surface of each piece as the outside surface of
each panel. (Also see the black persimmon nong
for a really stunning example of the mirror technique.) Note the mirror
effect in the ribs, too. Antiques specialists prefer the narrow ribs
of this chest to the broader ribs of many others of the same type.
This piece has undergone some restoration: some of the fittings,
the wood panels on its sides, the stand, and parts of its infra-structure
have been replaced at one or another time during its 100-year existence
. The important front panels and ribs are original; the doors seem to
be--they are definitely very old--but they may have been cannibalized
from another old piece (suspected because of directions in Chinese characters,
inside the doors, that are not consistent with the doors' arrangement).
The drawers at the top are original; they have their original bamboo
nails and fit perfectly. Buyer beware: The seller of this piece swore
that it was all original "except for a couple fittings." I
should have been suspicious when she refused to give me a certificate.
Since the photo was taken in Korea, the chest, adjusting to a drier
climate in Los Angeles, experienced a two-inch fissure in the frame
at the top.