Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Wolgye Warrens, Part II: Details, Details

I separated out some of my images from the original Walk in the Dong post to discuss separately, as architectural details. First, we have the Korean roof tiling:

Not much to say about it because I don't know much about it, but I think it's pretty.

Next up, Korean gates. The homes are courtyard-style, as I've said, so you have a big courtyard gate instead of a front door to the home. Some are completly solid and plain, but that's boring, so I didn't take pictures. Here's one that seems to evoke Chinese moon gates, only in the negative (solid where moon gates are hollow):

Here's a more ornate, scroll-y one.

No brilliant insights from me. Moving on! Here's a door from a distance, and then a closeup of the decorative panel:

These, I actually can comment on, thanks to a Royal Asiatic Society trip to the Museum of Korean Embroidery. There are, in the East, ten traditional symbols for longevity, which may be presented all in one work, or in matched pairs. The pairs are, in no particular order,

1. Sun and clouds
2. Crane and pine
3. Deer and "plant of eternal youth;" I don't know what it is in English, but it's the spiky thing behind the deer in the picture there
4. Tortoise and waves
5. Rock and bamboo

In the panel above, you can see the first three: sun/clouds, crane/pine, and deer/plant.

I would cite that information correctly, but the citation would be (Huh), and I think that would confuse readers. So I will say that it comes from the book Crafts of the Inner Court, by Huh Dong-hwa, published by the Museum of Korean Embroidery and purchased by me there.

(On a side note, the museum is small but worth visiting just to get a crack at their textile library. Unfortunately, the hours suck: they close at four and are only open on weekdays. So keep your eyes open for the RAS annual tour, when they have a special Saturday opening just for the RAS group. I also recommend the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum at Sookmyung Women's University; free admission, and more great books, including in English).

Another door panel, about which I have nothing to say:

This is a gate door handle.

I theorize that the circle-and-square means that it's in imitation of a Chinese coin. The bottom character is means "peace" in Chinese, and the top one is pronounced "chang" but I'm not sure what it means in this context. Longevity, maybe? Whatever Chinese skills I once possessed have faded after three years. If anybody reading this knows these characters, I'd love to hear.

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