Tteoksal is a patterned Korean rice cake stamp

Various forms of "tteok", rice cakes made of glutinous rice flour, are common in Korean cuisine, even today. Tteok are included in everyday meals, but are also ubiquitous at holidays and special ceremonies. Women of the Joseon period, Joseon (Choson or Yi) Dynasty, 1392–1910, used molds like these—usually wooden, as seen here, although occasionally porcelain—to decorate rice cakes. Incised with motifs ranging from Chinese characters to flowers to geometric patterns, the molds pressed the designs into the "tteok". Such kitchen tools demonstrate the elegance of traditional Korean dining.

The "tteoksal" offered in this sale, shown on the right, was probably carved by a Korean farmer during a winter in the 18th century. You can appreciate the workmanship when you realize it was carved out of a piece of wood with a simple knife without the benefit of modern measuring tools.


The three images below show you an age crack that appears on the back of the "tteoksal" and on one end. It does not appear on the face. The face shows very minor wear from centuries of use.


No cracks appear on the side


The back shows a natural crack that developed over a period of more than 200 years.  The crack does not show on the face (see picture at top)

one end

The crack in the wood does show in the handle at the end

Korean winter

The Korean winters are cold, affording the farmers and their families many hours of spare time when there are no useful chores that can be done in the fields. This picture of thatch roofed farm houses in the snow helps to understand why the Korean farmers and their families developed so many beautiful handicrafts.  They did weaving, embroidery, ceramics, and of course wood carving. The iconic Korean wood carving is the "tteoksal", rice cake press.

Visualize the farmer sitting through the long winter whittling a "tteoksal" for his wife to use.

showing process

The picture to the left shows how the rice press (Tteoksal 떡살) is used to press its design on the green colored rice cake (Jeolpyeon (절편)) below it.  Please notice that the one in the picture to the left is not the one for sale, it is simply an illustration.  The one for sale is the one above, a finely carved example.

Here are images of some  more sample rice cakes made with "tteoksal".
rice cake
rice cake
rice cakes

This rice cake press comes with this Certificate of Origin from the Okinwa Antique Dealers and Collectors Association.