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Korean Furniture

Traditional Korean furniture is easily recognized by its humble stature and use of time honored materials. With its size and distinctive materials, Korean furniture is in many ways antithetical to its European counterparts produced during the same period.

Most notably, Korean furniture is generally low lying, reflecting the long-established belief that objects taller than humans prohibit spirits from traveling freely. The design and humble stature of Korean furniture is also meant to convey the architectural, functional, and aesthetic qualities of customary Korean abodes known as hanoks. Traditional examples of Korean furniture have been referred to as miniatures of hanok for their interest in echoing the formal architectural qualities inherent to the homes.

The time-honored materials used in Korean furniture construction consist of red oak, lacquered wood, tortoise shell, and Zelkova and Paulownia wood. Small and portable dining tables known as sobans are a unique component of Korean furniture. Sobans were at one time so ubiquitous that a single household might have as many as fifty in their residence. Traditionally, diners would have their own individual soban. Styles of sobans differ markedly between various regions.


Quick Facts

  • Artisans often used Paulwonia trees in the fabrication of furniture because of its dark coloration, light weight, and resistance to insects
  • For millennia, many families planted a Paulwonia tree to celebrate the birth of a daughter. When she married, the tree was cut down and made into furniture for her new household
  • Koreans conventionally spent much of their domestic time seated, which helps to explain the low height of the majority of their furniture

Recommended Items at Auction

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1960s Korean Butterfly Chest Side Table
Dec 21, 10:00 AM EST
1960s Korean Butterfly Chest Side Table
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $100- $500
$11 Bid
Korean bandaji Large wood and iron mount trunk, hand wrought mounts 19th Century
Dec 18, 10:00 AM PST
Korean bandaji Large wood and iron mount trunk, hand wrought mounts 19th Century
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $2,000- $2,500
$1,6000 Bids
EINE TRUHE AUS HOLZ (BANDAJI)
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CET
EINE TRUHE AUS HOLZ (BANDAJI)
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €150- €300
€1500 Bids
EINE TRUHE AUS HOLZ (BANDAJI)
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CET
EINE TRUHE AUS HOLZ (BANDAJI)
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €700- €1,400
€7000 Bids
EIN APOTHEKENSCHRANK
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CET
EIN APOTHEKENSCHRANK
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €150- €300
€1500 Bids
A SMALL CABINET WITH TWO HINGED DOUBLE-DOORS AND THREE SMALL DRAWERS
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A SMALL CABINET WITH TWO HINGED DOUBLE-DOORS AND THREE SMALL DRAWERS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €500- €800
€5000 Bids
A wood four level book storage and display stand (sabang t'akja). Korea. First half 20th century
Dec 09, 11:00 AM CET
A wood four level book storage and display stand (sabang t'akja). Korea. First half 20th century
by Kunsthaus Lempertz KG
Est: €2,400- €2,800
€1,8000 Bids
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KLEINER KASTEN
Dec 12, 10:00 AM CET
KLEINER KASTEN
by Schuler Auktionen
Est: CHF500- CHF600
CHF5000 Bids
A Korean Mother of Pearl Wood Panel
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
A Korean Mother of Pearl Wood Panel
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $45- $450
$450 Bids
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KOREAN WOOD CHEST Early 20th Century Height 26”. Width 45”. Depth 14”.
Dec 06, 9:30 AM EST
KOREAN WOOD CHEST Early 20th Century Height 26”. Width 45”. Depth 14”.
by Eldred's
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids
A SMALL WOOD CABINET WITH METAL FITTINGS AND TWO HANDLES, TWO SMALL DRAWERS INSIDE
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
A SMALL WOOD CABINET WITH METAL FITTINGS AND TWO HANDLES, TWO SMALL DRAWERS INSIDE
by Nagel Auction
Est: €250- €350
€2400 Bids
A SMALL METAL-FITTED HINGED-DOOR CHEST
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A SMALL METAL-FITTED HINGED-DOOR CHEST
by Nagel Auction
Est: €600- €1,000
€6000 Bids
A THREE-TIERED TWO-DOOR AND TWO-DRAWER DISPLAY CABINET WITH BRASS MOUNTINGS
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A THREE-TIERED TWO-DOOR AND TWO-DRAWER DISPLAY CABINET WITH BRASS MOUNTINGS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €900- €1,500
€9000 Bids
1960s Korean Chest Side Table
Dec 21, 10:00 AM EST
1960s Korean Chest Side Table
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $100- $450
$10 Bids
A Rare Antique Korean Elmwood Apothecary Cabinet (Late Joseon dynasty, mid-19th Century)
Dec 09, 6:00 PM AEDT
A Rare Antique Korean Elmwood Apothecary Cabinet (Late Joseon dynasty, mid-19th Century)
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD3,000- AUD5,000
AUD2,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Korean Furniture


Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf

Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf

Eldred's

Eldred's

Theodore Bruce

Theodore Bruce