These six paintings depict the ceremony held for the entrance of Crown Prince Hyomyeong (1809~1830) to school to start his formal education. The use of vivid colors and elaborately captured details help create a celebratory atmosphere around the entrance ceremony held for this important member of the Joseon royal family. 

The Admission Ceremony of the Crown Prince (llustration of the Ceremony of the Crown Prince’s Entrance to the National Confucian Academy) is an illustration of the admission ceremony of Crown Prince Hyomyeong (1809 - 1830), the eldest son of King Sunjo (Reign: 1800 - 1834), the 23rd King of Joseon.

A ceremony was held on March 11, 1817 for the admission of Crown Prince Hyomyeong to Sungkyunkwan University at the age of nine.

The grand admission ceremony was depicted in six separate illustrations, providing a rare glimpse into the royal celebrations of the time.

The first illustration depicts the start of the procession from the Royal Palace, with Crown Prince Hyomyeong leaving Changdeokgung to travel to Sungkyunkwan University.

The procession is quite large even at a glance, from the presider at the front to the royal escorts surrounding the Crown Prince.

Although a palanquin for Crown Prince Hyomyeong is depicted near the top of the image, the Crown Prince himself is not actually visible.This is because Joseon-era depictions of royal processions did not actually depict certain royalty. Instead, objects symbolizing royalty were depicted, or their presence was insinuated through the overall situation. Following this practice, the Crown Prince was not illustrated in these images.

Upon arrival at Sungkyunkwan University, Crown Prince Hyomyeong observe proprieties at Daeseongjeon Shrine by presenting wine upon the divine tablets of the likeness of Confucius as well as several nearby sages.

The next image depicts the Crown Prince requesting tutelage from his mentor outside the entrance to Myeongnyundang Lecture Hall.

Upon acceptance, Crown Prince Hyomyeong enters Myeongnyundang Lecture Hall and presents an offering to his mentor in appreciation.

This illustration shows the Crown Prince politely exercising due courtesy towards his mentor as a student seeking instruction.

The fifth image depicts a scene in which Crown Prince Hyomyeong is receiving tutelage from his mentor.

Confucian scholars of Sungkyunkwan University are depicted in the courtyard,

and administrators in charge of educating the Crown Prince can be seen bowing inside the building.

The figure sitting in front of the desk near the administrators is the Crown Prince's mentor. A book can be seen spread out on the teacher's desk, while another book is spread out on the floor.

Although the Crown Prince of dignified status to someday become the King, at the admission ceremony, he abided by the due courtesy of a student to his mentor and received tutelage on the floor without a desk.

As dozens of officials and Confucian scholars looked on, the first lesson for the Crown Prince began. In this day's lesson, the young Crown Prince is said to have inquired about the ways in which he would become a sage.

After the lesson, Crown Prince Hyomyeong returns to the Royal Palace and receives congratulations from various officials, thus concluding the admission ceremonies.

The depictions of the Crown Prince - a young boy destined to lead the nation - observing proprieties as a student in front his mentor encapsulated the hopes of the people who expected he to become a benevolent king thoroughly versed in academics and virtue.

The admission ceremony of Crown Prince Hyomyeong, who asked his mentor about the ways to become a sage at the tender age of nine, was not a ceremony for one, but a ceremony for the entire nation and its citizens.

Credits: Story


Jae-geun Shin.

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