<em>Memorial Altar Chair (Gyoui)</em>, 19th century. Wood, lacquer, 48 × 23 × 12 1/2 in. (121.9 × 58.4 × 31.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Carroll Family Collection, 2020.18.15 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.2020.18.15_front.jpg)

Memorial Altar Chair (Gyoui)

Medium: Wood, lacquer

Geograhical Locations:

Dates:19th century

Dimensions: 48 × 23 × 12 1/2 in. (121.9 × 58.4 × 31.8 cm)


Accession Number: 2020.18.15

Image: CUR.2020.18.15_front.jpg,

Catalogue Description:
Diminutive arm chair with tall legs, used in traditional Korean ancestral shrines to hold the the spirit plaques representing a deceased family member. With rectangular seat and single-slat back, the chair-shaped altar has scrolling elements at the end of each arm and protruding from the sides of the back. The long, straight legs are supported at the base by struts joining the front legs to the back, and roughly halfway up by a panel joining all four legs. The whole chair is stained and finished in a clear lacquer or shellac. Chair-shaped altars like this were installed in separate ancestor shrine buildings, or in special rooms or areas of a traditional upper-class home. They typically held a cabinet with doors on the front that could be opened to reveal the spirit plaques inside.Offerings were made to the ancestors enshrined on the altar, usually placed on larger, lower tables placed in front of the high chair altars.

Brooklyn Museum