Gwangju National Museum
Asian Pottery Culture Research
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Gwangju National Museum
역사와 문화가 살아숨쉬는 국립광주박물관
Jeolla-do Province and Its People over the Past 1000 Years
2018-10-23 ~ 2019-02-10
Gwangju National Museum is proud to present this special commemorative exhibition “Jeolla-do Province and Its People over the Past 1000 Years,” marking the first millennium since the province’s foundation. As the oldest administrative region in Korea, Jeolla-do can trace its past to 1018, the ninth year of the reign of King Hyeonjong, as recorded in The History of Goryeo. Yet there have also been those who cultivated these lands and dreamt of a better world long before the name “Jeolla-do” was attached. As open-minded and progressive people, they did not hesitate to assimilate the fruits of other civilizations, giving birth to a number of innovative ideas that wielded great influence on Korean history. Even in times of crisis, the people of the region have demonstrated deep loyalty and potential while protecting the entire Korean Peninsula along with their own province.
Epitaph Tablet of Yi Seonje
2018-09-10 ~ 2018-12-10
The epitaph tablet of Yi Seonje (李先齊, 1390-1453), a scholar official who served at the Jiphyeonjeon (集賢殿, Hall of Worthies), was donated to the National Museum of Korea in 2017 after long years of efforts. Its whereabouts had long been unknown since it was smuggled out to Japan in June 1998. The Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation dedicated to finding this tablet and eventually found its location in 2014. The Foundation met with the former owner of the epitaph tablet, the late Todoroki Takashi (等？力孝志, 1938-2016), who purchased the tablet without knowing that it was exported through illicit trafficking. In August 2017, his widow, Todoroki Kunie (等？力邦枝) donated Yi Seonje’s epitaph tablet eventually to the National Museum of Korea, through the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, following the will of Todoroki Takashi, who passed away in November 2016. The descendants of Yi Seonje of the Gwangsan Yi Clan (光山 李氏) also willingly consented to this donation.
2018-05-18 ~ 2018-07-01
This exhibition was comprised of four parts. The first part, “Learning from Tradition,” introduced the early works of Ilseop that were created together with the prominent monks of the late Joseon Dynasty. Ilseop began producing Buddhist paintings in 1918, and traveled all over the country in search of those who could teach him how to paint. Even after meeting Boeung Munseung (1867-1954), who would become his lifelong teacher, Ilseop worked with many senior painters, from whom he learned various facets of Buddhist art including Buddha statues, paintings and dancheong (multicolor paintworks on wooden buildings).
The second part titled “Leading the Buddhist Art Circles in Modern Times” shed light on the important events that occurred, which helped Ilseop established himself as a central figure in the Buddhist art circles after he began creating Buddhist artworks independent of his teacher.
The third part, “The Path of Ilseop,” introduced the masterpieces Ilseop created in his 40s and 50s. This was the time period in which he engaged in prolific activities, leading numerous juniors and students. He created a massive Hubuldo that was more than 4m in height and produced all of the Buddha statues, paintings and dancheong of a Buddhist temple, thereby becoming a prominent all-round artist producing Buddhist works on large scale.
The fourth part, “From Artisan to Artist,” focused on his diverse activities that contributed to the advancement of modern Buddhist art as well as his activities as an educator. In his later years, Ilseop made various efforts to further develop Buddhist art such as founding a Buddhist art organization, submitting his works to contests, and publishing a book. In addition, he was designated as Intangible Cultural Property No. 48 as a dancheong artisan in 1971. He also dedicated himself to fostering Buddhist painters among the younger generations, who are now actively involved in the Buddhist art circles under the name “Ilseopmundohoe.”
2018-05-14 ~ 2018-07-01
The Gwangju National Museum co-organized this special exhibition alongside Hanstudio in time for Buddha’s Birthday in May. On display at the exhibition were 25 iconic photographs produced by the members of Hanstudio, based on the theme of stone pagodas.
Under the theme of searching for the traces of the Baekje-style stone pagodas, the exhibition shed light on Baekje pagodas by presenting the Baekje pagodas found in Sabi (present-day Buyeo) and Geumgol (present-day Jindo) as well as the pagodas that were built in Baekje style. Instilled in the stone pagodas are the breaths of the pagoda makers as well as the lives and dreams of the people of Baekje.
The aim of the exhibition was to provide an important chance to discover the beauty of Korean cultural assets and to go back in time to experience the lives and dreams of the people of Baekje.
2017-12-19 ~ 2018-04-08
This exhibition was held as part of the exhibition tour in Gwangju organized by the National Museum of Korea to present 130 German royal artworks in baroque style dating from the 18th century that are housed by the Dresden State Art Collections, the oldest association of museums in Europe.
Part 1 introduced “Augustus the Strong,” who was the star of the exhibition. The exhibits provided information on the significance of the “Strong,” and the image of an absolute monarch pursued by Augustus, who was Saxon elector and Polish king, as well as the hidden side behind this through the exhibits of the king’s military uniform, the sun mask, the ceremonial sword, and hunting tools. The exhibits mainly consisted of items from the Dresden Armory.
The second part introduced the “Green Vault,” a chamber of treasures created by Augustus the Strong who collected and showcased artistic masterpieces in order to turn Dresden into the center of the arts in Europe. The exhibition consisted of the representative items from the collection of each room of the museum, Green Vault, and on display were pieces made of various materials such as ivory, bronze, gold, silver and diamond and crafts made with precious stones.
The third part delved into the Porcelain Palace that August, who was the first to invent porcelain in Europe, aspired to created. The early Meissen porcelain, which was modeled after the 18th century Chinese and Japanese porcelains, was introduced according to the conception of the king. The exhibition centered on the collection of the Dresden Porcelain Collection.
2017-08-15 ~ 2017-10-22
This exhibition was held to present the sacred relics from the Honam area that played a central role in the founding of Gusanseonmun (Nine Mountain Zen Schools) in Later Silla. More than 300 cultural assets associated with Gusanseonmun including seven treasures including the Bronze Cymbals of Taeansa Temple, Gokseong (Treasure No. 956) as well as nine municipal cultural assets were exhibited. Of particular note,
housed at Harvard-Yenching Library was unveiled in Korea and to the general public for the first time.
Aside from these, the Portable Shrine of Wooden Buddha Triad at Songgwangsa Temple, Suncheon (National Treasure No. 42) and Iron Seated Vairocana Buddha of Borimsa Temple, Jangheung (National Treasure No. 117) were presented using the four-sided hologram technology and projection mapping (media facade) technology. The prologue, “Zen, from Heart to Heart,” presented Buddhist scriptures related to the Zen sect and Buddhist paintings depicting the Bodhidharma, who newly developed the Zen teachings as a sect.
2017-05-03 ~ 2017-07-09
This exhibition was organized to present the findings of the excavation surveys that took place in the Honam and Jeju regions between 2015 and 2016. More than 400 excavation surveys were carried out in these two regions during this period, and their results were to be presented altogether at the exhibition. The exhibition consisted of three parts, which were divided into different themes that would shed light on the diverse findings of the surveys.
2016-12-06 ~ 2017-04-02
The Gwangju National Museum held a special exhibition titled “Jegi of Joseon Sculpted with Clay” in 2016. Jegi, which are the wares and utensils used in ancestral rites, had a strong significance in the Joseon Dynasty, which established Confucianism as the social norm. The clay-based jegi from the Joseon Dynasty, which placed importance on ancestral rites, are important materials that shed light on the “etiquette” culture and are artworks that embody the aesthetics unique to ceramics.
The Gwangju National Museum presented jegi from the early Joseon Dynasty modeled after metal jegi, based on Jegidoseol (Explanatory Diagrams of Utensils Used in Ancestral Rites), jegi from the mid-Joseon Dynasty with original shapes, and the late-Joseon jegi with neat lines and faces.
Also, all of the Buncheong jegi wares excavated from the kiln site dating from the Joseon Dynasty in Chunghyo-dong, Gwangju in 1991 were presented together for the first time at the exhibition.
With this special exhibition, the Gwangju National Museum hoped to spark an understanding of and further research on jegi ceramics.
2016-10-25 ~ 2017-01-30
The Gwangju National Museum hosted a special exhibition titled
to commemorate the 40th anniversary of uncovering the Sinan ship, which became the impetus for the establishment of the museum.
The ship on the seabed off the coast of Sinan became known to the world when pottery ware was caught in a fisherman’s net in August 1975. Through eleven underwater surveys carried out in the course of 9 years, a whopping 24,000 cultural assets including Longquan celadon produced in the Chinese Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) were revealed to the world.
This exhibition organized as part of the exhibition tour of the National Museum of Korea presented a glimpse into the international trade ship from the 14th century that departed from the Port of 경원 kyungwon (present-day Ningbo) in China with various ceramics, metalwares, red wood and coins on board to head to the Port of Hakada in Japan.
Special Exhibition “Dolmens, a World Heritage: Making Tombs with Large Stones”
2016-04-26 ~ 2016-07-31
This exhibition was organized to examine the research findings on the dolmens in Korea.
The prologue section presents information on the significance and special features of the dolmens built in Korea amidst the diverse megalithic cultures of the world.
The first part of the exhibition allowed an understanding of the most basic information about dolmens such as the definition, form, structure, and distribution patterns thereof. Also, it allowed the visitors to realize the advanced level of technology in the Bronze Age, based on the scientific principles applied to the construction of dolmens, and get a glimpse of how a sense of community was fostered and promoted through the erection of dolmens.
The second part focused on comprehending the meaning of dolmens as a tomb, based on the artifacts such as the bronze violin-shaped dagger, polished stone dagger and polished red earthenware as well as petroglyphs and human skeletons that have been found. Also, the lifestyle of the people in the Bronze Age who built the dolmens was examined at the exhibition.
The third part touched upon how dolmens have been perceived throughout history since the Bronze Age. Dolmens inspired a wide range of myths and legends, and even became an object of worship, as mystical objects that were thought to have indwelling spirits. To the westerners who visited Korea in the late 19th century, the dolmens were massive structures that were representative of Joseon. The full-fledged excavation surveys on the dolmens in Korea commenced in the Japanese occupation period, and various types of research were carried out after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.
The epilogue of the exhibition endeavored to examine the current status of the dolmens in Korea that have been designated as World Heritage and the possibility of using them to create cultural content in addition to employing them as a theme for comics, movies and games.