Antique Korean Wooden Pillow

This wooden pillow is from  the Joseon (Choson or Yi) Dynasty, 1392–1910. Wooden pillow is (목침 - 木枕) in Korean. Sleeping on wooden pillows has been a tradition in Korea for many centuries. One of the first historical stories mentioning it was during the reign of Joseon's King Injo (1595-1649, r. 1623-1649). The Main Buddha Hall (Korean National Treasure No. 291) was rebuilt at that time without using any iron nails.

This wooden pillow is also constructed without using any iron nails.  It is completely built using only wooden pegs. See the image below.  An interesting story has been passed down about the Main Buddha Hall.

During the reign of Joseon's King Injo, a carpenter was employed to build Naesosa Temple's Main Buddha Hall. However, for three consecutive years all he did was carve rectangular wooden pillows, resembling wooden bricks. One day a child monk hid one of the pillows. Eventually the carpenter finished carving the wooden pillows and began to build the Dharma hall by mixing and matching the pillows. Because one wooden pillow was missing, the carpenter blamed himself for being careless and insincere. Then, the child returned the wooden pillow he had hidden, but the carpenter didn't use it because he thought it was contaminated. He completed the construction of the building even though one pillow was missing. That's why even now the Main Buddha Hall is missing one wooden piece among its brackets.

One age crack in pillow

Here are three views of the pillow. The one on the right shows a closeup of an age crack in the pillow.  You can see many bruises to the pillow because this is a genuine antique pillow, used for decades, not a modern replica sold in a souvenir shop. 

pillow top]

Similar examples of antique pillows

below are three examples of similar wooden pillows to show you the simple functional designs used in their construction. Note: the 3 pillows below are not part of this sale but are included only for informational purposes. You will see them in various museums around the world.

sample 1
sample 2
sample 3
This object will come with this Certificate of Origin from the Okinawa Antique Dealers and Collectors Association.