During the Joseon dynasty, the authority of the kings and their status as the head of state were symbolized by many different objects, including royal seals and books. The dragon, as an imaginary creature with great power, was particularly favored as a symbol of the royal authority. The throne and the folding screen bearing the painting of the Sun, Moon and Five Peaks were also used to symbolize the royal authority of Joseon’s rulers.These symbolic items surrounded the Joseon dynasty kings.

As a symbolic, transcendental being who had received the mandate of heaven to rule, the Joseon king was surrounded with items that symbolized his sacred status and dignified role.

Most representative were the royal seals that symbolized the king or his court, his throne, the panel screen of the Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks(Irwol Obongdo, 日月五峯圖), and the king’s clothing and accessories.

Royal Seals, Royal Investiture Books, and Edicts of Royal Investiture

The use of seals was strictly classified according to the status of each royal member. Only the king and queen could use the seals Bo(寶), while the crown princes and princesses used the In(印).

The royal seals were referred to collectively as Boin(寶印), while the seal used exclusively by the king was called Eobo(御寶).

A Boin was composed of a surface Inmyeon (印面) engraved with letters,

the body, and a handle.

Most handles were carved in the shape of a turtle

and embellished with a red tassel.

The surface bore an honorific or posthumous title of the king in seal script.

The royal seals were produced concurrently with a book (Chaek, 冊) to be offered to the king.

The book was a royal document praising the noble character of the protagonist.

The material of the book ranged from gold, jade, to bamboo.

Jade books were produced for kings and queens,

and for the crown princes and princesses, bamboo books made up of flat bamboo strips tied together.

A gold book was produced in 1897 at the time of King Gojong’s enthronement as emperor. Books made for kings were called royal investiture books(Eochaek, 御冊).

A royal edict Gyomyeong(敎命) made of colorful silk was bestowed with a royal seal and investiture book at the time of the investiture of royal entitlement to the queen, court lady, crown prince and his consort, and the eldest son of the crown prince.

During the lifetime of the king or queen, the seals, books, and edicts functioned as symbols of their status; and posthumously, as symbols that protected the royal court and the state.

Royal Canopy, Throne
Jeong jeon(正殿) was a central hall in the palace where the king received his subjects and presided over important royal ceremonies.

In the middle of Jeongjeon hall was a high railed podium with steps on all four sides covered with a wooden baldachin(Dangga, 唐家).

Dangga is a lavishly decorated structure that imbued the space around the king’s throne Eojwa(御座) with the utmost authority and dignity.

Above the head was an ornate ceiling Bogae(寶蓋) with carvings of dragons or phoenixes.

At the center of the podium was the king’s throne enveloped by a folding screen Gokbyeong(曲屛),

and a panel screen of the Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks Irwol Obongdo installed on the back to emphasize the divine stature and virtue of the king.

The royal throne was constructed of wood and painted red, a color used exclusively by the royal court.

It was decorated on all surfaces with dragons flying amidst gold clouds.

The corners were decorated with carved yellow dragon-heads that conveyed majesty, dignity and formality.

The Six-panel folding screen of the Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks
The Six-panel folding screen of the Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks standing on the north side of the canopy on the back of the king’s throne depicts the king’s divine position in relation to the order of the universe.

The screen’s association with the king was so close that in documentary drawings of Joseon royal events, the king’s presence was implied by the screen.

Even after the death of the king, the screen was used at the royal portrait hall to enshrine the king’s portrait and spirit tablet.

Consisting of a symmetric arrangement of five mountain peaks,

the sun,


pine trees, and waterfalls, the screen was painted in five colors: blue, white, red, black, and yellow.

Credits: Story


Myeng-hee Son.

Credits: All media
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