Subtle Radiance on a Healthy Table

The Joseon Dynasty used more kinds of tableware, as compared to the previous periods. Chinaware, brassware, and dishes with mother-of-pearl inlay were particularly popular. In addition, brassware was widely used by the nobility and wealthy urban dwellers from the 17th century to the early 19th century. Yoo Deuk Gong, a Confucian scholar from the 18th century, recorded in <Gyeongdojapji> the lifestyle of Seoul residents in the late Joseon Dynasty, and it was mentioned how they loved their brassware. Interestingly, it was stated, “The people love their brassware, so each household has a set of brassware for rice, soup, greens, and fish. They even make their basins and movable toilets out of brass.” Brassware was particularly loved for tableware probably because of its chemical properties. In the palace, the king’s tables were tested with a silver needle to see if there are any harmful substances in the food, because brassware turns black when there is poison or other harmful substances inside. Due to these sensitive properties, brassware is hard to maintain. You have to wipe it often because it is easily discolored if you do not pay attention. It must have been exhausting to constantly wipe the dishes and movable toilets every day for the women in the past. They enjoyed using brassware nonetheless probably because of their way of life where they are used to being attentive and devoted to even the most trivial things.