Korean Silver

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oel
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Korean Silver

Postby oel » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:20 am

Korean silver knife or Eunjangdo


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This silver dagger was bought in Korea in 1978. At that time I visited Korea together with my father as he went on a so called Korean War Veteran visit. We toured Korea and on our way to the Korean demilitarized zone, I noticed the dagger in a small medicine/herbal shop. I was struck by its beauty and didn't know anything about the dagger but bought it. 25 Years later I started to investigate and discovered its name and the history behind it. Information is obtained by an appraisal done by Martin Barnes Lorber, other by means of private mailings or is picked off the internet.
My gratitude goes towards; Yenhau Chen & Walter Del Pellgrino and V&A Museum and Rob & Kyoko Turley (Korean Art and Antiques).

This is a Korean blade. It goes by many names including Jangdo and Eunjando (for silver examples). It is considered a ceremonial knife rather than a military or fighting knife.
Size may help determine its age. Larger knives were more prevalent before the 19th century and were carried by both noblemen and noblewomen. Very small ones became popular in the 19th and 20th century as a bride's accessory in the wedding ceremony.
Jangdo is a short knife carried easily. It was used for protection or for decoration. Of the various kinds of Jangdo, the one carried on the body is called Paedo, the one kept in the pocket is called Nangdo. In addition to them, there are many kinds by shape and by material. By knife case shape, there are Samojangdo in a square case and Mojaebijangdo in an octagonal case. As well, by material, there are Gold Jangdo, Silver Jangdo, and White Gem Jangdo. During the late Joseon period, knife making became more sophisticated and complicated as Jangdo was regarded as a luxury pendant accessory. Jangdo made in Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do is famous for its long history and sophistication.


The name “Jangdo” appeared during the early Joseon, Chosŏn, Choseon or Chosun (朝鮮, 조 ) (1392 -1905) period. During the Joseon dynasty the “Sadeabu” or Gentry class always carried the Eunjangdo.

Some highlights from “Korean Thoughts and Religion”; Joseon women lived in constant fear of being rejected by their husbands and their families. Husbands had many reasons to legally reject their wives, i.e., the "seven deadly sins of wives" or chilgeojiak: disobedience to the parents in law; failure to produce a son; adultery; theft; undue jealousy; grave illness; and extreme talkativeness. Similar provisions for wives did not exist, and the threat of being rejected by their husbands was real enough for them to live in constant fear and to be always obedient and submissive toward their husbands.

The husband's ill-treatment of his wife and in-laws was also common. In addition, chastity was imposed upon women, including widows, while men freely engaged in extramarital affairs, especially if their wives could not bear children or failed to give birth to a son.
Chastity was particularly demanded of noble women, who were allowed to step out of the house only with their face and body fully covered. In the unlikely event of a stranger seeing the woman's face or touching her, she was expected to punish herself physically. Noble women also had to carry the Eunjangdo, a small knife always ready to be used for self-mutilation in the event of sexual assault.
What was most unfair of all was both the ideology and the law that stressed the indissolubility of marriage for women but not for men. When the husband died, the wife and son had to observe a mourning period of three years. In addition, the virtuous widow was to remain faithful to her husband's family till death, especially if she had already become the mother of that patrilineage's male descendent. Widows, even when their husbands died young, were pressured to remain faithful by not remarrying and obediently serving their husbands parents.

By stressing the woman's dedication to one husband and one lineage as the greatest womanly virtues, Confucian ideology eliminated the rationale for remarrying. "A woman must follow by one man" became a sacred norm, dictating that even a widow, no matter how young, should always remain faithful to her dead husband and his family. In order to completely subordinate women to the man's family, Joseon rulers indoctrinated women into believing that inhibition against remarriage was a sort of divine providence.
For more information see:
http://www.hcrg.org/iii/printview.asp?num=91

During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1905-1945) the Jangdo became something of a ladies weapon. Jangdos were often given to noblewomen as wedding gifts, the reason being that should their modesty be attacked, they could fight back with their knife, and failing that, they could modestly end their own lives rather than submit to molestation. As a ladies weapon, the Jangdo was usually small, not larger than the size of her hand, and highly decorated such that it would appear as a simple ornament. Thus it could be hidden out in the open. It was usually worn close to a ladies heart.
I have read that during the Japanese Occupation almost all swords and knifes were confiscated and destroyed. After the Occupation (1945) strict laws were enacted against ownership of edged weapons. This means that early examples of Korean swords and knives are fairly rare. For Korea the period between 1865 and 1960 has been a very violent one, during which many lives were lost and also many artefacts & antiques were lost and destroyed.

My Eunjangdo seems rather large and not particularly ornate. Perhaps this may indicate that it was more practical as a defensive weapon rather than created simply as a ornamental wedding knife. In turn, this may an older Eunjangdo, carried by a nobleman rather than a woman, and made before the 19th century.
The set of chopsticks is part of the original knife and sheath. The chopsticks were used to detect poisoned food. All older jangdos came with them. These are quite often missing from antique examples. Although I know silver turns black if it reacts with certain poisons, the concentration must be high or perhaps it could be like eating an egg with a silver spoon, the smell & taste turns bad. Or could it be a Korean fairy tale.

The sizes of the Eunjangdo: length of the entire Eunjangdo when it is closed with de dagger in the sheath 15.3 cm / 6.02 inch.
Length of the dagger 14.4 cm / 5.67 inch, length of the sheath 9.5 cm / 3.74 inch, length of chopsticks 13.7 cm / 5.39 inch.
Weight of the entire Eunjangdo: 93 grams / 3.28 ounce, weight of dagger 35 grams / 1.24 ounce, weight of sheath 42 grams / 1.48 ounce, weight of chopsticks 16 grams / 0.56 ounces.

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Eunjangdo & Mojaebijangdo in an octagonal case. The front is a shangri-la kind of theme, the pine trees and the gold cranes symbolize longevity, and the gold deer symbolize wealth and prosperity. The area below the crane is stylized rockwork. The curly objects with gold wash are clouds. In the past, people believed that when they accumulated enough good deeds in this world, they rode clouds to the sky and became a human Buddha in the next world. Shapes of cloud can also be found on the murals in ancient tombs.

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On the blade handle we see a gold-washed Moon (the moon's roundness is a symbol of family unity and harmony) and snake’s head. The snake is, according to Joseph Campbell, the ultimate symbol of lunar consciousness, because the snake sheds its skin just as the Moon does.
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The area below the Crane is stylized rockwork. The snake is also spherical, symbolizing the infinite. And, ultimately, the snake continues to live in the face of adversity, just as the honorable woman could expect to live on after the self-inflicted honourable death of her physical self, according to the teachings of the time. Kum-Boo (also spelled keum-boo or kum-bu) is a Korean decorative appliqué technique in which pure gold foil is fused onto the surface of finished silver objects.
The origin and historical development of the kum-boo technique are little known, but it is clear that Koreans have been using brass, silver, and gold ware and utensils for their daily eating and ceremonial purposes for thousands of years.
Koreans and other East Asian peoples traditionally believed that the ingestion of pure gold would improve health and well-being. For this reason, many Korean silver utensils are decorated with 24-karat gold overlays in the form of letters and patterns that convey wishes for good health, wealth and longevity.


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The pattern on the back is a “Pullocho” plant, which symbolizes wishes come true. The chopsticks were used to detect poisoned food. The attachment to the chopstick is a cicada, symbolising immortality

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Attached at the point where the sheath and the blade handle join, we see a chrysanthemum flower, the Korean symbol of a productive, fruitful life.


We do not often, at the forum, see silver from Korea; have there ever been any laws about silver & gold standards in Korea. Not much is known about Korean’ gold & silver smiths prior 20th century perhaps due to the fact that at a certain time in Korea's history, the art of black-silversmithing was frown upon? I do hope we get some reactions and more examples of Sino-Korean silver!

dognose
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Re: Korean Silver

Postby dognose » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:01 pm

Hi Oel,

What a wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing it, along with the excellent information.

Regards, Trev.

davidross
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Re: Korean Silver

Postby davidross » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:42 pm

Hi Oel,

Thank you for a delightful post sharing photographs and detailed information about your eunjangdo.

In my layman’s survey of Korean silver production, I would say that in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and earlier, silver was only sparingly used as a layer over bronze or as inlay into intricate geometric designs on iron vessels. Other than jewelry, spoons, chopsticks, and eunjangdo's, I can think of no Korean items made entirely in solid silver prior to the 19th century, but hopefully someone else is aware of such items and will post more information.

We see very few Korean pieces on this silver marks forum, in particular genuinely antique pieces, not only because they are rare but because they are (in my experience) never marked for purity or even with a maker’s mark. If I am not mistaken, silver marking began in Korea after it was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. I imagine that this is true of your eunjangdo, it bears no marks whatsoever. Yet surely anyone can see that it is a finely crafted piece of silver.

Whether it reflects a practical concern, a preference, or a prejudice, in the current arrangement of the Forum site, users must scroll down beyond every other kind of silver in the world, beyond "Other (presumably European] Countries," even beyond silverplate, silver jewelry, and “Silver of the Americas [Other than USA and Canada],” to find “Asian and Middle Eastern Silver,” the last stop before “Gold Marks” and “Miscellaneous.” As the 21st century slouches forward, some Forum contributors still cling to a Eurocentric mindset that insists upon “no marks no silver” as a golden, incontrovertible truth. It would seem that in Europe, a missing, faked or forged hallmark resulted in an unspeakably brutal form of punishment far worse than death, and for those steeped in such unfortunate historical circumstances, it is inconceivable that in other civilized parts of the world, objects of vertu were produced for generations without a system of hallmarking or guaranteeing them. As long as the antiques and collectibles market is awash with speculative buying that insists upon readily transferrable goods whose “authenticity” is evidenced more by the marks they bear than their craftsmanship, in my opinion fine pieces of antique Asian silver that were not made for the export market, like your eunjangdo, will be under appreciated.

Returning to the eunjangdo, I would be very surprised if it were not a 19th century piece, given the rarity of Korean solid silver pieces before that time. I think the length is typical of a woman’s dagger, and the nature of the felicitous signs that you have very carefully researched all point to the original owner being a woman. As you mention, in a traditional Korean family, it was primarily the duty of a wife to harmonize with her husband and her inlaws. I also wonder if the applied finial on the chopsticks is a butterfly (symbolic of female beauty) rather than a cicada. That said, my own research is concentrated on Japan and only peripherally touches upon Korea, so I will keep an open mind about your eunjangdo. Thank you again for sharing it.

Cheers,
David R

oel
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Re: Korean Silver

Postby oel » Sat Aug 17, 2013 5:15 pm

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by ResearchMum » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:25 pm
I have done some research on the markings of the inside box and am pretty sure it was made in Seoul, Korea (now known as Jongno, Seoul) about 1910-1945. Possibly during Japan's annexation.
The box reads: gold, silver, platinum and art dealer.
Keijou Shouro and his mark.
Seoul, Korea.
Yuushin Shoukai and the shop or company name with telegraph or phone number 1829.

A little background. This was from an estate auction and from talking to the owners son his father served in the Korean war.
What would you call this tea cup set? Is it something that they would take with them if they traveled? Or would it be something they would have kept at home? I can not find anything like it in my research. Can someone shine some light on this?

by davidross » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:10 pm
Welcome to the forum.

I believe your research is correct. Silver tea cup and saucer, made in Seoul during the Japanese annexation, retailed by Yuushin Shoukai, with a jungin mark in Chinese characters to the underside of the cup. Of course, the Chinese characters for "Yuushin Shoukai" are here transliterated according to the Japanese reading, and would be transliterated differently in Korean.

Older Korean silver is quite challenging to positively identify, as often the desired information is found on a presentation box (usually long lost), with a minimum of marks to the actual object. How wonderful to see a piece of Korean silver in its original box.

I do not think this was designed as a traveling teacup per se, but simply as a fancy teacup to be given as a gift. I have seen many Korean silver tea sets like this, usually a teapot and cups, sometimes with engraved presentation inscriptions. The box would have been an absolute necessity in order to present this teacup as a gift. You are probably already aware of the etiquette and importance of gift-giving in Korea (as well as in other Asian cultures), but for those who are not, googling "gift giving" and "Korea" should bring up a wealth of information.

Regards,
David R


by ResearchMum » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:47 pm
Thank you for your help. I always try to find what I can about a object and place that information to the box where it is kept if not being displayed. Somehow this Korean Veteran was given, found, or purchased this box and now the history is just lost. Wish I knew the answers. I'll just kept it in memory of my Father who served in the Korean war and when I am gone it can hopefully go to someone who will care for it. Thanks again for your help.

Original see topic:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=34015

oel
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Re: Korean Silver

Postby oel » Sat Aug 17, 2013 5:26 pm

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by neurorocker » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:47 am
Can anyone decipher these possibly Chinese hallmarks? Thanks! Nate.

by davidross » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:29 am
Hi Nate

That's a Korean silver mark, in use from ca 1910s to 1950s. The mark literally says "silver" twice, side by side, once with the Chinese character and once with the Korean alphabet (Hangul).

The mark does not indicate any specific purity, but most likely it is no lower than 800 standard and perhaps much higher.

It's hard to say more without a photo of the entire item, but I would very much doubt it dates to the 1800s. I believe that Korean silver was unmarked before 1910.

Regards,

David R


Original topic see;
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=33249&p=86873#p86873

neurorocker
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Re: Korean Silver

Postby neurorocker » Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:48 pm

Thanks for posting. Very interesting items.

apol440711
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Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby apol440711 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:05 am

Can anyone help me with this mark. It is sterling but I have searched and searched and have been unsuccessful in finding anything.

Amy information would be GREATLY appreciated...If the picture of the mark doesn't show up clearly enough I can try to take a better picture. Please let me know and I will do so.

Thanks so much,
Amy

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dognose
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Re: Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby dognose » Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:17 am

Hi Amy,

Welcome to the Forum.

Please post some larger images, up to a 7" max.

Trev.

davidross
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Re: Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby davidross » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:19 pm

Welcome to the Forum.

As Trev has already written, a better photo of the mark is needed for a positive ID.

To hazard a guess, it looks to me like a jungin mark. The OP can confirm by comparing the mark on the teapot with jungin marks in the Korean and Japanese sections of the World Hallmarks page: http://www.925-1000.com/foreign_marks3.html

A jungin mark without an additional maker's mark would point to colonial Korea (1910-1945). Further, the shape and the engraving are typical of Korean teapots made during that time, and it probably dates to the 1920s-1930s.

Is it missing its lid? I've only seen these with dome-shaped lids topped by freely rotating, ball-shaped finials.

Regards
DR

apol440711
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Re: Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby apol440711 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:50 am

Ok...I hope these are better for you to see...Thank you guys

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apol440711
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Re: Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby apol440711 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:53 am

Oh, I forgot...I do not have the lid...

dognose
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Re: Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby dognose » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:03 am

Hi,

Same problem, your thumbnails do not enlarge. Please embed the image up to a max. of 7".

Trev.

apol440711
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:14 am

Re: Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby apol440711 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:11 pm

Okay I found a different site to upload images.

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davidross
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Re: Please help--I have been driving myself crazy looking

Postby davidross » Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:06 pm

Thanks for the much better photos, which confirm what I've already written.

Definitely a jungin mark, in this case definitely Korean.

Cheers
DR

ScrapPappi
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Enameled Dish .99 Silver - possilbly Russian

Postby ScrapPappi » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:06 pm

Hi all, wondering if you can help with another makers mark mystery. We acquired this dish through a local auction house in Phoenix AZ and my wife believed it has Russian origin (she was raised in the Ukraine). We were also bidding against another Russian couple that believed the same. I searched the Russian Cyrillic marks and couldn't find a comp - my wife also doesn't recognize as Russian lettering.. but she believes the motif is Russian. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks..

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AGHEAD
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Re: Enameled Dish .99 Silver - possilbly Russian

Postby AGHEAD » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:40 pm

Looks Korean both in the style and markings.

dognose
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Re: Enameled Dish .99 Silver - possilbly Russian

Postby dognose » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:02 pm

Hi,

I agree with Aghead.

See: http://www.925-1000.com/Fkorea_01.html

Trev.

davidross
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Re: Enameled Dish .99 Silver - possilbly Russian

Postby davidross » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:05 pm

Yes, no doubt about it, Korean.

ScrapPappi
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Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:56 pm

Re: Korean Silver

Postby ScrapPappi » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:41 pm

Thanks all! This has been a great help.

Ag999
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Some Korean silver mark Q's for DR (and others):

Postby Ag999 » Mon Mar 03, 2014 6:05 pm

I've learned a lot on the Silver Marks of Korea page, but have some specific questions about several old condiment spoons and forks (5"), and a larger spoon (8.5"), that I recently picked up. Also, I'd like to know the approximate age of all of them.

Here's the collection:

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I recognize the basic Korean mark for silver that I see on most of these: I think of it as "OIL" (but turned 90 degrees, with the sideways "O" at the top and with the "L" flipped around).

My questions, working from Right to Left on my main photo:

1) RE: 4 spoons with diamond-shaped top, marked in two different ways, but all four 70% silver.
What do the four (Korean? Chinese?) characters in blue enamel at the top mean?

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2) RE: 2 forks with "tapered" handles and barely legible marks.
Does that say "pure silver" or something else?

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3) RE: 4 forks with bulb-shaped handle tips. Same design as the following 6 spoons, but the mark is not the same, and is illegible to me.
What does it say?

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4) RE: 6 spoons with bulb-shaped handle tips.
What are the marks at the top? And, what is the additional character above the silver (OIL) mark beneath? Are these "pure silver" or?

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5) RE: This 8.5" 70%-silver spoon (with the Chinese "double happiness" on the handle) has a maker's mark that looks like the one said to represent the pre-WWII Korea Fine Arts Workshop (it looks to me like the Chinese character for "beauty" - located within a diamond, within a circle). Can I assume it was made before WWII? (It looks so new and modern!)

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Thanks for any comments.

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