Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Experiencing Royal K-Culture

Last month I attended an educational program at the National Palace Museum of Korea, called 'Experiencing Royal Culture'. This program is designed for Non-Korean English teachers to learn more about Joseon Royal culture. 

The program included four evening sessions with hands-on activities, and a Saturday field trip around the Palace. Unfortunately I couldn't attend this month's Palace field trip because I already had other plans, but I hope to be able to attend another session in the near future. 

Schedule &Program
Lecture themes
Related galley artifacts
Overview of History and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty
Making Eobo Soap
Royal symbols and records
Palatial Residence
Field trip: Visit to
Changdeokgung palace
Changdeokgung palace architecture
Education &Literary Arts of Joseon Royals
Calligraphy Workshop: Drawing a Picture on the fan
Royal education and scholarly culture
King's calligraphy and seals
Food for the Royals
Cooking Workshop:
Royal meals
Attires for the King and the Queen
Try-on workshop: Royal attire
Queen's Robe
Ornamental hairpins

If you would like to attend these educational sessions, please see the National Palace Museum of Korea for more information. ※ Lectures are delivered in English.

Program 1: Overview of History and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty

The first session involved a lecture on the history and culture of the Joseon Dynasty, followed by a small tour of selected pieces in the museum. The Josen dynasty was established in 1392, and lasted 519 years under the reign of 27 kings. The country upheld Confucianism as its political ideal. The Kings regimes supported scholarly studies and bought advances in agriculture, astronomy, medicine, as well as literature and arts.

Bogae - ceiling decoration placed above the throne.
Dragons or phoenixes were drawn to mark the King's divinity and authority. In Korean culture dragon's are protective mythological creatures, who bring good fortune. 
The Royal seals, which are stamps that were used in place of signatures. Today most Koreans have personal seals. Companies and government agency's have their own seals as these are deemed more formal, although hand signatures are accepted. 
After the museum tour, we had our practical soap making session. This was a little messy, but we did manage to cast soap to take home with us. 
Making royal soap
Program 2: Education & Literary Arts of Joseon Royals

The Confucian-oriented Joseon society held intellectuals and academic learning in high esteem. From infancy the King would study diligently his entire life, as such he earned respect as not only a divine ruler but also an authoritative scholar. Academic achievement, and continuous learning is still highly regarded and respected within Korean society today.

Calligraphy of King Heonjong
Kings studied and produced calligraphy using Chinese characters, hanja. 

Writing materials, the brush, the ink stone, ink stick and paper were precious for Joseon scholars who nicknamed them the 'four friends of study'.

Boxes of bamboo sticks containing questions about Confucian texts, which the King's used to study.

King Sejong the Great (r. 1418-1450) created and implemented several successful advancements within the fields of culture and art. Under King Sejong's guidance, scholars at the royal academy created the Korean alphabet Hangeul, a "proper phonetic system to educate the people."

This book contains a collection of Royal caligraphy.

King Sejong also had an interest in astronomical science. Sundials, water clocks, celestial globes and astronomical maps were produced at his request.

Traditionally Koreans believed the placenta of a newborn baby needed to be carefully preserved to ensure the baby would grow up well and be happy. The placenta of a newborn prince or princess was put in a ceramic jar and buried in a stone chamber. 

Our Royal Calligraphy lesson.

Panbonche is the style that is taught to Korean's in elementary school when they first learn to write. 

During our calligraphy lesson we created our own royal scrolls and fans. 
My fan - fireworks or palm trees
I'm not terribly naturally artistically talented, but I loved, loved, loved the calligraphy session. Even though I was coming down with a cold, I found this extremely relaxing and therapeutic. Unfortunately it was a little rushed because we were running out of time, I really want to do more! It reminded me of being in Art class at school, holing myself up in a corner and happily painting/making a mess. 

My Royal calligraphy

Program 3: Food for the Royals

Cooking class
For our third session we prepared and cooked Royal bibimbap. 

Royal bibimbap is a little bit different/special from the usual bibimbap, which just contains vegetables and fruits. Royal bibimbap included beef mince and fish, although I opted to omit them from mine. I'm seriously considering becoming a vegetarian when I leave Korea. Personally, I've eaten enough meat here to last me a lifetime. 
I was looking forward to learning how to make bibimbap, I thought it would be easy and something I could prepare at home. It's not difficult per-se, more fiddly and time consuming. We were given handouts with  ingredients and cooking instructions, but I'm afraid I seem to have misplaced it already.

My Royal Bibimbap 
Considering you mix it all together to eat it anyway, and bibimbap only costs 5-6000 won to buy in restaurants, personally I think I'll be continuing to do that. 
My Royal Bibimbap, all mixed up and ready to eat.
Tastes good.
Program 4: Attires for the King and the Queen

The final lecture covered traditional royal attire, including a dress-up session.

Triple pendants of the consort of Imperial Prince Yeong
Women's court ceremonial jacket and blue skirt of the consort of Imperial Prince Yeong.

Great ceremonial robe of of the consort of Imperial Prince Yeong.

Quilted socks for children, Joseon dynasty.

Daily wear for the young Prince.

Ceremonial robe for the young Prince.

Cloisonne enamel royal incense burner.

How to wear the Queen's ceremonial robe.
King and Queen's Royal attire.

When we finished the program, we were presented with beautiful certificates, that were stamped with the Royal seal to commemorate our successful completion, and participation in the course.

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