Editor’s Note: As we approach the 55th SIWA Bazaar, which will be held Nov. 13, please enjoy a look back at this article about one member’s experience with the Bazaar. This originally appeared in the Oct-Nov 2016 issue of Discovery.

– By Monica Williams, Discovery Editor

Ann Robinson got lucky in her visit to the SIWA bazaar 40 years ago.

The SIWA member was pregnant with her firstborn that fall and her mother-in-law was visiting from the states. On their way to Incheon Airport, the two decided to stop by the bazaar.

As luck would have it, Robinson’s name was drawn in a raffle in which she won a lacquer jewellery box. Robinson and her husband left Korea in 1977 and the wooden box went with them. In fact, she still uses it today.

Lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl or najeonchilgi, is a time-honoured Korean treasure dating from the Joseon dynasty and was long a symbol of wealth.  “Najeon” means mother-of-pearl, and `”chilgi” refers to lacquerware.

During the 1960 and ‘70s, lacquerware cabinets, chests and tables were popular items for newlyweds in East Asia. But only a few artisans of the craft remain.

“I’ve asked my husband to find another box like that and we’ve looked,” Robinson said. “You don’t really see that type of lacquerware anymore. It’s a beautiful box.”

To make lacquerware, artisans apply black or dark-red lacquer onto the wood, carve patterns or drawings on the surface and affix or encase mother of pearl or seashells.

When Robinson and her husband, Steve, returned to Seoul for a second stint this year, thoughts of her beautiful box led her back to SIWA where she’s working on the sponsorship team for this year’s bazaar.

Who knows? She may get lucky again.