Paintings of Agriculture and Sericulture Activities

Genre Painting of Farming and Weaving on an Ten-panel Folding Screen (Republic of Korea/Joseon Dynasty) by unknownNational Folk Museum of Korea

What was it like to live in the agriculture-based, traditional Korean society throughout a year? Gyeongjikdo in the National Folk Museum of Korea reveals everyday scenes of traditional Korean farming villages.


is a series of paintings depicting the process of grain cultivation (gyeong, 耕) and
sericulture production (jik, 織). Its
initial purpose was to remind a newly-ascended king of his commitment to
provide his people comfortable lives and material well-being, with
illustrations of everyday labor. Over the course of the 18th and 19th
centuries, this traditional painting series was also drawn and enjoyed by the
general public. 

This new version of Gyeongjikdo had a more flexible style, reflecting different kinds of work depending on the time of year with additional scenes on traditional customs. People in this type of painting show distinctive regional characteristics in their clothes and hairstyles.

#1: Fertilization

In order to make a good harvest, farmers should begin with managing soil fertility. They distribute manure over the fields.

#2: Harrowing

The soil freezes and hardens during the winter. Farmers plough and harrow to break the soil clods into smaller, softer mass.

#3: Weaving

Gyeongjikdo sometimes contain several steps of silk production from breeding silkworms to reeling silk filaments. In this picture, however, the whole process is simplified into one scene of weaving and starching cloth.

#4: Transplanting rice seedlings

Farmers transplant rice seedlings in puddled paddies. People in the background are busy transplanting rice seedlings in straight rows.

#5: Weed management

When transplanted seedlings grow little by little, farmers have to control weeds. They are diligently weeding the paddies with a hoe in hand.

#6: Eating saecham

When rice matures, it is the season for harvest. Crops have already been cut in the background. Farmers have been working hard since early in the morning, and now saecham arrives. Saecham refers to a small meal eaten during breaks in between work. Farmers enjoy delicious food after the physically draining work of farming.

#7: Threshing

Farmers separate rice grains from the cut crop by working on a threshing machine with sheaves of rice stacked on both sides. The harvest looks well this year.

#8: Welcoming the moon

After the harvest, the full moon rises. All the people celebrate Chuseok, the Korean harvest festival, watching the moon and showing their appreciation for this year’s good harvest.

#9: A traveler

This year’s work is all done and now it is time to recharge. A traveler leaves home to see friends and do things that he has been putting off all year.

A dog sees him out.

#10: Hunting

Cold winter has come. Some hunters hitting the trail for the winter season have stopped in at a jumak, a traditional Korean inn, to have a quick meal.

Snow has covered mountains and fields. Spring will come again soon.

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