This hand-axe is a representative stone tool of the Paleolithic Age. Its body has been chipped all around to create two faces, a pointed tip and a rounded base. Such tools are believed to have been used for various purposes including butchering, chopping, digging, and even throwing at prey. This particular artifact was discovered at Gawol-ri, Paju, situated on the lower reaches of the Imjingang River, and exhibits the characteristic symmetrical ‘biface’ shape of two-faced tools and weapons.
Usually discovered in Bronze Age tombs and dwelling sites, carefully polished stone daggers such as the one shown here are regarded as representative artifacts of the Bronze Age in Korea as they are believed to have been used by the ruling class of a Bronze Age society as a symbol of political power. This particular item, excavated at the Archaeological site in Samgeo-ri, Yeoncheon, has a stepped handle and exhibits a pair of long “blood grooves” along the body.
This large container was unearthed from the kitchen of a house in a village together with other relics. It was made of carefully selected clay, and is grey and bright yellow in color. The one on the left is round while the one on the right oval. Lattice and horizontal line patterns were made on the surface of the container with a striking device.
This small granite mortar - discovered together with a small stone bar presumed to be a matching pestle - is thought to have been used to crush grains and herbal plants. According to a more recent theory it was used to grind tea, connecting it with the tea-drinking culture imported from China during the early Three Kingdoms Period (57 BCE – 668).
This celadon stool is lavishly decorated with a motif consisting of a pair of phoenixes with a lotus flower inlaid on the upper surface and a waterside scene containing a peacock, peony, plum, bamboo, crane and willow all over the side. The inlaid design covering the surface of the stool features an elaborate and realistic depiction of birds and flowers, and is full of the lyric and humorous elements characteristic of Goryeo celadon art. The use of gray clay to depict the peacock and the scholar’s stone is regarded as an outstanding example of Goryeo’s artistic sensibility. The artifact is the only one of its kind, and is believed to have been used by a high-ranking royal or an aristocrat.
This elaborately decorated pillow is a fine example of the tradition by which celadon was made for and used exclusively by members of the royal family and the aristocracy during the Goryeo Period (918-1392). The pillow features a practical design with a concave middle part, and is inlaid with chrysanthemums in all faces where flowers are white while the stalks and leaves black.
The design consisting of numerous small circles with a dot that fills the entire surface of this Buncheong bottle indicates that it is one of the masterpieces made when the buncheong ware of Joseon was at its zenith. The black and white floral design decorating the lower part reveals that it was produced in the Gyeongsang-do area.
This fine white porcelain jar features a voluminous yet graceful shoulder and lid complete with a cintamani knob on top, and is evenly covered with a delightfully translucent light gray glaze. It was baked in a saggar (a ceramic, boxlike container used in the firing of pottery to enclose or protect ware being fired inside a kiln).
This white porcelain jar features a design of dragon flying in the air among the clouds depicted in a stylized manner. The dragon, captured with powerful brush strokes in iron red, displays a rather humorous appearance with bulging eyes and a mouth gushing flame. Experts conjecture that the jar was made at the Sindaeri kiln during the second half of the 17th century and used at the royal court.
This white porcelain flask is a rare artifact whose entire surface is coated with copper red pigment. Its body is decorated with plum and bamboo design carved in relief, with a handle in the shape of an animal on each side. This white porcelain with underglaze red-copper decoration ranks among the finest of the last works produced by any kiln run by the Joseon dynasty.
This manuscript is a copy of The Lotus Sutra, one of the most important and influential Buddhist sutras, handwritten in silver on indigo paper. It contains a frontispiece drawn in gold which consists of three parts, from the right, the Shakyamuni’s sermon on the Vulture Peak, the parable of the father who rescued his son from a burning house, and the parable of the father who guided his son, now a beggar, to wisdom. It was originally made in a concertina binding format, but was converted to its current hand scroll format to make it easier to preserve.
This image of Amitabha Buddha, painted in gold and other pigments on black silk, is a rare extant example of its kind produced during the early Joseon Period. The Buddha’s figure is outlined with gold with the details depicted with red lines. The protrusion (usnisa) on the top of the head and the lips are painted. The division of the composition into two parts, i.e. the upper and lower sections, the use of fine gold lines to depict minor details, and the Buddha’s seated posture on the lofty square pedestal, pointed usnisa and small lips share considerable similarities with the gold Buddhist illustration commissioned by Queen Munjeong (1501-1565), suggesting that it was produced during the late 16th century.
This statue of Buddha sitting cross-legged was made by carving a block of stone. It is comparatively small in size and displays the meditation mudra, which suggests that it was produced to be one of a Thousand, or Three Thousand, Buddhas. The physical characteristics of the Buddha, and the usnisa in particular, the folds of the robe, and the posture exhibit a typical Buddhist sculpture of late Joseon period. The statue is also marked by an elegant and delightfully simple and serene appearance with no elaborate details, effectively representing the state of perfect equanimity and awareness attained by the Buddha.
The Avatamsaka Sutra (“The Flower Garland Sutra”), also known by its full name, Mahavaipulya Buddha Avatamsaka Sutra (“The Greatly Expansive Buddha’s Floral Garland Sutra”), is a fundamental sutra of the Avatamsaka School of Mahayana Buddhism whose principal teaching is that Buddha and ordinary human beings are not two different beings but one. The book shown here was printed for inclusion in the First Edition of the Tripitaka Koreana, which was compiled during the reign of King Hyeonjong (r. 1009-1031) of the Goryeo Dynasty in an effort to invite Buddha’s divine intervention and thereby repel the Khitan forces that were invading Goryeo at that time. The book is volume 46 of the Zhou Edition of the Avatamsaka Sutra (80 volumes), which was translated into Chinese by a Tang monk named Siksananda (652–710).
The documents shown here include seven letters which King Seonjo (r. 1567-1608) secretly wrote to one of his closest ministers, Song Eon-sin (1542-1612). In one of the letters (24.2㎝ by 36.6㎝) the king asked Song to find and protect his three children who, like the king himself, were fleeing from the Japanese troops that had invaded and devastated their country. In another letter, the king wrote to inform Song of the awards he had bestowed upon him for his meritorious services to king and country.
This document is a postscript written by King Jeongjo (r. 1776-1800) in 1794 after reading the letters that one of his predecessors, King Seonjo (r. 1567-1608), had written to an official named Song Eon-sin. In the postscript, the king provided a brief explanation of the letters and praised the mutual trust and respect between his ancestral monarch and the minister. King Jeongjo’s postscript is highly regarded not only for its historic significance but also for its literary and artistic merits.
This book contains information on the members of an association formed by officials from six government agencies in charge of acquiring and providing supplies for the royal court. It is now famous for its postscript, which was written by Yi Sik (1584-1647), one of the Four Masters of the Chinese Classics, along with Sin Heum (1566-1628), Yi Jeong-gu (1564-1635), and Jang Yu (1587-1638). Written in 1635 when he was 52 years old, the handwritten postscript exhibits impressively powerful strokes in the “modern cursive script”. His calligraphy is tidy and subtle and displays a clearly defined rhythm and balance between the use of “square brushes” and “circular brushes”.
This collection of fourteen letters was written by Kim Jeong-hui (pen-name: Bodamje, 1786-1856), who is widely regarded as one of the greatest calligraphers and epigraphers of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). He wrote these letters to his fellow scholar Bak Jeong-jin between 1849, when he was 64, and 1856, the year in which he died at the age of 71. The collection, published one year after his death, contains fine examples of the unique calligraphic style (called Chusache, or Chusa Script) developed by Kim Jeong-hui during his later years, as well as some important biographical information.
This collection of paintings captures a few key events held during King Jeongjo’s visit to the tomb of his father, Crown Prince Sado, between the 9th and 16th day of the second leap month in 1795 by the lunar calendar. According to the Protocols of the Feast of the Year Eulmyo (Wonhaeng Eulmyo Jeongni Uigwe), the original paintings were collectively produced by some of the greatest court painters including Kim Deuk-sin, Yi Myeong-gyu and Jang Han-jong. This particular copy was made in the 20th century.
This identification card is one of the residence certificates that were issued by the governor of Gyeonggi-do during the Korean War (1950-1953) and remained in use until 1962, when the Korean government proclaimed the Residence Registration Act and began to issue new identification cards. This particular ID certificate issued to a provincial resident contains his photograph, address, occupation, name, right and left thumb prints, age, and date of issuance marked in the Dangun era rather than the Christian era. The name of the issuer printed on this type of certificate was usually that of the local police head.
Traditional side-dish boxes such as this one feature a wooden box in three to five tiers designed for easy portability. The box is coated with lacquer and has three holes on its front face, revealing that it originally consisted of three tiers, as well as a wooden panel designed to cover the front part.
This traditional toiletry case called bitjeop (comb box) was used to store articles for hair grooming such as a comb, a comb cleaner, a hair parter, and a hairpin. It only consists of drawers, distinguishing it from a gyeongdae (mirror stand) and other boxes which contain more cosmetic items such as a hand mirror, oil, and powder. Traditionally regarded as an essential wedding gift for brides, this particular item contains three tiers of drawers complete with handles and a lacquered surface.
Tanggeon (horsehair mesh cap) was worn between the mesh hairband and official headwear by male members of the Joseon upper classes whenever they appeared in public in formal dress. It was also worn by middle class adult males as an independent item of headgear. This particular item is made of horsehair woven rather loosely, while the case is made of paper and wood, decorated with a design of “Five fortunes of five bats” on the bottom, and has a hinged lid with closing latch.
This red pine brush holder, decorated with the traditional Korean art of ox-horn inlaying, exhibits an octagonal shape and is notable for the ivory decoration attached to its mouth by sixteen bamboo rivets. The main part of the holder is embellished with images of auspicious animals including the dragon, horned lion (haetae), turtle, and girin, with clouds, flowers, plants and rocks arranged around them. The lower part was made separately and then attached to the body with eight bamboo rivets. The use of brilliant colors and elaborate techniques are also characteristic of such artifacts.
Sarye pyeollam (Handbook of the Four Ceremonies) compiled by a late-Joseon scholar-statesman named Yi Jae (pen-name: Doam, 1680-1746), explains the four major ceremonies Korean people traditionally held to mark important familial events such as coming of age, marriage, funerals, and ancestral memorial rites. The book was intended to complement “Familial Rites,” an authoritative work on the subject written by the great Neo-Confucian thinker Zhou Xi (1130-1200), with ritual elements traditionally preserved by Korean families. The book was one of the most widely read books on family ceremonies and rituals in Joseon society thanks to its compromise between the principles provided by the Chinese classics and Korean customs.
Although this painting is not stamped with the artist’s seal, the brush techniques used to render the trees, the composition, the harmony of powerful and gentle brush strokes, and the use of clean ink wash reveal that is a fine landscape by the master artist, Kim Hong-do. There is a postscript on the painting written by the famous art critic Son Jae-hyeong (pen-name: Sojeon, 1903-1981).
This landscape of Yanghwanaru Ferry on the snow-covered Hangang River was produced by Jeong Seon (1676-1759), who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Jingyeong (lit. “true view”) landscape painters of Joseon Dynasty. The painting depicts a few people crossing the river on a ferry, a traveler riding on the back of a donkey, and a ferryman waiting for him.
This painting dating from the late Joseon period portrays a scene inspired by a legendary event mentioned in ancient Chinese records, namely the banquet held at Yaochi Pond on Kunlun Mountain, where the Queen Mother of the West (Xi Wang Mu) resides, for her guest King Mu of Zhou. The painting depicts a group of Daoist immortals heading for the banquet.
One of the head pupils of the great late-Joseon painter Jeong Seon (1676-1759), Sim Sa-jeong (1707-1769) left behind a large collection of very fine flower-and-bird paintings and landscapes. The top right of the painting is stamped with the artist’s seal, alongside a signature in his pen-name of Hyeonjae.
This portrait depicts Heo Jeon (1797-1886), a civil official who started his public career after passing a state examination held in 1835 and served in various mid- and high-ranking government positions including that of Civil Affairs Minister. He is now widely regarded as one of the great Neo-Confucian thinkers, a leader of the Southerners (Namin) faction, and a reformist who was keenly interested in various aspects of the real world. In this full-length portrait, he is shown in his scholar’s robe and official’s black hat, facing slightly to the right, and seated in a chair behind a table with a set of books placed upon it, one of which has been taken out and opened. The painter used a shading technique to create a more realistic depiction of the sitter, and captures minor details that suggest the scholar’s probity and noble character.
Paintings such as this one depicting a scholar’s reading room complete with books, furniture, stationery, flowers and even fruits earned great popularity among the literati of the late Joseon period. Its quality and size suggest that it was originally painted on an eight-panel folding screen used by the royal household or a wealthy aristocratic family. A unique and interesting element of this painting is that the bookshelves are enclosed by a large piece of drapery decorated with ssanghuija (Character of Double Joy). The artist’s seal is stamped on the middle of the eighth panel, revealing that the painting was produced by Jang Han-jong (1764-1815). It is the earliest known example of the “hidden seal” used on paintings of a scholar’s bookshelves.
《The Collection of Gyeonggi Provincial Museum》
This collections of exhibition are organized based on the permanent exhibition hall of Gyeonggi Province Museum.
Director | Junkwon Kim
Exhibition planning | Ji-in Yoo, Gyeonbo Sim
Project support | PR & Marketing team, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation