[KS] Old vase with history, anone has an answer?

Henny Savenije adam&eve at henny-savenije.demon.nl
Sun Aug 27 03:43:20 EDT 2000

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Today I received a curious email, with the following content.

>Dear Sirs:
>My name is Judd Green.  I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
>My father, of the same name, served as a United States Army officer in 
>Korea during the Korean War.  One of his jobs was to hire Korean civilians 
>for jobs.
>One of the men he hired was named Kim Sang Soon.  Mr. Soon was hired as 
>the head cook at the Entertainer's Hotel in, I think, Seoul, Korea.
>My father died in 1981 but before his death he told me the story that went 
>with a very old vase that was given to him on October 16, 1951 by Mr. Soon.
>My father was due to rotate back to the US and fellow officers, enlisted 
>men and all the civilians he gave jobs to threw a going away party for 
>him.  A band that played at the party was called The Rhythm Kings.  After 
>the party Mr. Soon approached my father and handed him a vase.  He told my 
>father it was to thank my dad for saving his life and the lives of his 
>family by giving him a job.
>My father told me it would have been an insult not to take the vase so he 
>packed it and brought it home with him.  When he unpacked it, he found a 
>2-page letter inside written by Mr. Soon in his own hand.
>The letter says, quote:
>     Now I like to report to you about history of Chinese made flower base 
> which I gave you on 16 Oct. 1951 at the party for you by the Rhythm 
> King.  My grand grand father went to China by order of Korean King the 
> Lee Dynasty as the ambassador to China, and the Chief Staff of the Army 
> of China gave this flower base to my grand grand father.  The name of the 
> General is Lee Hong Jang in Korean pronunciation who is very famous in 
> history.  My father gave this flower base to me with this story and I 
> took it to my best curio of my family keeping it with me all the 
> time.  And I had to go down to Pusan as the refuge when the Chinese 
> Communist pushed down to the Capital in month January 1951.  I show this 
> one to a professional curio collector to find out how it is old and 
> valuable.  And I found it is about 3 or 4 hundred years old and how and 
> it is very expensive.  Now I'm very happy to present this one to you upon 
> your kindness to me.  I'm no sure how it's valuable but that is the best
>one I have.  Please take this to your home and put in your living room.
>                                                     Kim Sang Soon
>                                                     Head Cook of 
> entertainers
>My father kept this vase until he died and it was then passed on to me.  I 
>have kept it for all these years along with the original letter from Mr. Soon.
>The vase is approximately 6" high, 7' wide and has two small handles on 
>the top, one on each side.  It is wrapped in brown leather that looks like 
>it was indented all over.  It also has a very intricate design of inlaid 
>mother-of-pearl all around the vase going about half way down.  It is a
>striking piece and I have never seen anything close to it and I've been 
>looking for 40 years.
>A long time ago a curator from the Indianapolis Museum of Art looked at it 
>and told me it appeared the vase was Chinese in origin and that the 
>leather wrapping and inlaid mother-of-pearl design was most likely put on 
>after it came back to Korea.  The curator said the design of the pearl 
>indicates Korean royalty.
>I am looking for a direction to go in authenticating the vase and 
>determining its value.  Obviously, if General Jang can be located in the 
>history books, I believe this vase would be of considerable interest to 
>someone, possibly a Korean art collector or Chinese art collector.
>I have photos that I could forward you along with a copy of the letter if 
>that would help you assist me.
>Any assistance you can be would be appreciated.
>Thank you for your time.
>Judd Green

I will ask for the pictures and put them somewhere on my site and post the 
URL, but I think it will be indeed of considerable interest for someone 
with interest in Korean history, I was thinking about a museum, if anyone 
is interested and can shed anymore light on this, I would be obliged. I am 
afraid this will be too expensive for me, but I also think that this should 
not be in any private collection.

If anyone knows a contact, please contact me off the list.

Henny (Lee Hae Kang)

Feel free to discover Korea with Hendrick Hamel (1653-1666)
http://www.henny-savenije.demon.nl (in English)
In Korean
In Dutch
Frits Vos Article about Witsen and Eibokken and his first Korean-Dutch 
Korea through Western Cartographic eyes
http://www.crosswinds.net/~hennysavenije/ (in English)

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