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Home and Family

Since marriages should ideally last for eternity, they are perfectly symbolized by gold’s resistance to tarnishing.
Accordingly, many objects worked with gold were created specifically as wedding gifts, such as Southeast Asian wedding textiles and Korean wedding robes. In such contexts, gold often symbolizes the eternal nature of love.  

Gold-worked objects are also markers of social status within a community; they articulate a hierarchy both inside the home and outside the family. Japanese screens decorated with gold leaf performed just such a function, for only the wealthy could afford them. Adorned with gold and other emblems of immortality, these screens not only reflected light into a living space but also suggested that the family to whom they belonged possessed the resources to sustain themselves over time. 

Pheasants and pine trees
Pheasants and pine trees, 1650–1750. Japan. Ink and colors on paper with gold leaf. Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B60D64+. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.