The Sangtu is a traditional Korean topknot ornament for men. Shell-like shaped and often coated with black Korean lacquer, it covers and embellishes high society men’s bun.
This symbol of power and masculinity surprised me by the sobriety of its decoration and its lack of mother-of-pearl inlays, in South Korea commonly associated with exceptional lacquer pieces.

For the making of this Sangtu, I chose to use a seashell, the one commonly used for mother-of-pearl inlays, due to the excellent quality of its nacre. Rather than to chopping, slicing and laminating it in tiny slabs, I decided to use a curvaceous, hidden part of the entire shell. Its special shape seemed to me to be naturally, valiantly and voluptuously dedicated to this very purpose: to shelter the bun of men.


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