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A Koryo Dynasty Silver Spoon and Chopsticks

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All Items: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Korean: Metalwork: Pre 1492: item # 921060

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A Koryo Dynasty Silver Spoon and Chopsticks

Early to mid Koryo Dynasty (932-1392). Korean spoons of the early Silla Dynasty are indistinguishable from their Chinese prototypes and may have actually been imported; however, Korean spoons by the Koryo Dynasty had already assumed a unique form not seen in China or Japan. Early- and Mid- Koryo period spoons have elongated handles with an elegant curve and an elliptical or leaf-shaped reservoir with a pointed tip. The handles typically end in either a forked (“swallow-tail”) shape or a knob with incised decoration as in this example. Late Koryo spoons had straighter, more functional handles, and those of the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910) were flatter with rounded reservoirs. The Samsung Gallery of Korean Art (The Victoria and Albert Museum) owns a comprehensive collection of over forty early Korean spoons including several examples very similar in form to ours, but in bronze rather than silver. Unlike their Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Korean spoons and chopsticks were usually made of metals such as copper, brass or bronze, and, occasionally, silver. Aristocrats at Court used silver spoons, ostensibly as a precaution: it was believed that silver would change color if exposed to certain poisons, but we have not had occasion to test this theory. While Korean spoons changed form rather radically over the centuries, perhaps less can be said of the evolution of Korean chopsticks which probably assumed their current form very early. The modern Korean chopstick has a flatter mid-section than its Chinese or Japanese counterpart. The chopsticks offered here have blunt squared ends which assume a flatter, somewhat elliptical form from the middle section to the handle end. It is very rare to find a Koryo spoon together with a pair of chopsticks, and rarer still to find a set in silver. Both spoon and chopsticks have tarnished to a similar black-grey spotted color and polishing is not recommended. Both spoon and chopsticks are in very good condition. One chopstick is slightly shorter than the other, apparently from uneven wear as there is no breakage. The spoon would make an interesting scoop or chashaku for use in the tea ceremony. The spoon measures 26.5cm in length and weighs 83 grams (2.9 ozs.); the chopsticks vary in length slightly from 24cm to 24.5cm and together weigh 60 grams (2.1 ozs.).

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