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Talismans of Protection from Chosŏn Korea: Antique Locks, Latches, and Key Charms

Sept. 3 – Dec. 22, 2011

Talismans of Protections from Chosŏn Korea: Antique Lock, Latches, and Key Charms presents objects that are richly symbolic and exquisitely decorative examples of traditional Korean aesthetic and craft traditions.  The rare collection from the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910) includes metal and wood objects in the forms of dragons, turtles, butterflies, fish, bats and swallows.  Although the objects have functional purposes in everyday life, the beauty of their design underscores the primarily symbolic nature of the protections they afforded.  The key charms evolved from functional key holders into exquisitely decorated personal accessories that passed from mothers to daughters.

All of the objects in this exhibition are on loan from the permanent collection of the Seoul-based Lock Museum. This exhibition was organized by The Korea Society.
  • Funded in part by Edelweiss Funds, Chevron USA, Inc. and the National Advisory Board of the UW Art Museum

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Click here for the Talismans of Protection curricular guide


Left: Key Charm with a Medallion and Commemorative Coins, Late Chosŏn, brass, silk, 12 x 9 inches, courtesy of The Korea Society and The Lock Museum

Top right: Drum Shaped Lock, Late Chosŏn, nickel, 8 x 11 x 2-1/2 inches, courtesy of The Korea Society and The Lock Museum

Bottom right: Peony Patterned Lock, Late Chosŏn, lock; nickel, 3 x 5 x 1-3/4 inches, key; iron, 6-1/2 x 1-3/4 x 3/8 inches, courtesy of The Korea Society and The Lock Museum

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