Possessing care and wisdom

‘Yakjang’ refers to a wooden case with several drawers designed to store different kinds of Korean medicinal herbs. Yakjang from the 19th-century Joseon had the upper and lower parts separated. Both ends of Cheonpan(the finishing board on top of a piece of furniture) had rolled ears that are lifted slightly. The top of the upper and lower parts are arranged in small drawers while the inside of the drawers had partitions to classify the medicinal herbs. The names of medicinal herbs were written on either sides of the round ring on the front of the door. The bottom of the lower part had swinging doors with a lock to safely store precious herbs such as ginseng as well as fatal herbs. Another leg between the supporting legs bears the weight of its wide structure. This was a unique design for furniture from the late Joseon Dynasty. Yakjang reflects one’s wish for longevity without any illness. It became a piece of wooden furniture reflecting the wisdom of life to handle with care all the medicinal herbs that treat diseases and help people enjoy life. Yakjang by artist Wonduk Kwon has been motivated by the traditional Yakjang and designed for the users to create their own patterns with the division and repetition of drawers in squares instead of showing the natural pattern of wood. It beautifully displays the formative beauty of Yakjang so you can cherish the special meaning of Yakjang in the modern times.

Left <Yakjang藥欌>, wood, 121.5x35.5x129.5cm, 19th-century Joseon, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF KOREA
Right <Yakjang(Face÷Line)>, Kwon Wondeok, ebony, walnut, 200x40x99cm