The Sangtu is a traditional Korean topknot ornament reserved for men in high society. Often made of natural lacquer, it generally has a shell-like shape.

For the making of this Sangtu I used a specific seashell, one typically chosen for lacquerwork due to the excellent quality of its nacre. However, rather than cutting it into pieces as is customary for inlaying (mother-of-pearl on) a curve objet, I have chosen to highlight a hidden, inner part of the shell itself. This uncovered shape seems so camp, so sophisticated and so well-suited for this purpose, that it looks like it has been manufactured, blurring the lines between authenticity and imitation, nature and artifice.

Lastly, with its voluptuous curves and its iridescent surface, this Sangtu offers a facetious and kitsch interpretation of this traditional symbol of power and masculinity.

Topknot ornament for men. Shells, Korean natural lacquer, magnets.