Base for Temple Object
On View: Asian Galleries, South, 2nd floor
The interiors of traditional Korean temples and palaces are elaborately decorated, with intricately carved wood furnishings covered in colorful paint. This pair of candlesticks most likely flanked a Buddhist altar, while the turtle originally served as the base for a drum or gong, or perhaps for a large representation of a Buddhist emblem. Alternatively, it is possible that these objects came from a palace interior, because their symbolism is not necessarily Buddhist. Dragons are a lucky emblem, associated with water and especially rain, which is why they are often shown flying through swirling clouds, while turtles represent long life.
ca. 17th century
9 13/16 × 25 3/8 × 10 1/4 in. (25.0 × 64.5 × 26.0 cm) (show scale)
Gift of the Carroll Family Collection
Turtle-shaped furnishing element, carved in wood, designed to serve as the wide, heavy base for a vertical element such as a lamp stand, drum, or ritual object, to be used in a temple setting or possibly in a palace. The turtle has small feet and dramatically protruding head and tail, with a lotus flower surrounding the mortice where the upper element would have tenoned into the base. The turtle's head and tail are reminiscent of those of a dragon, indicating its mythical nature. It stands on a flat platform with low legs. The figure is painted with much of the pigment still visible.
Turtles are popular subjects for furnishing bases because of multiple traditions in which a turtle (or tortoise) is said to support Mount Meru, the central point and axis around which the world or universe revolves. Turtles are also popular emblems of longevity.
Base for Temple Object, ca. 17th century. Wood, pigment, 9 13/16 × 25 3/8 × 10 1/4 in. (25.0 × 64.5 × 26.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Carroll Family Collection, 2019.45.1 (Photo: , CUR.2019.45.1.jpg)
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.