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Yi Dynasty Korean Ideograph

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Asian: Korean: Pre 1900: item # 145836

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Yi Dynasty Korean Ideograph
This mid-19th century pictorial ideograph painting, called a "munjado," has an interesting cultural tie to Korea and its strong Confucian ideals. Ink and slight color on paper, it is unsigned as is typical for munjado. The ideograph is a graphic, stylized interpretation of the Chinese character "shin" meaning "trust," which is one of the eight major Confucian principles of morality. Throughout the Yi Dynasty inscriptions on paintings were in Chinese characters rather than Korean Hangul to signify higher learning. Ideographs such as this were placed in homes to instill Confucian virtues in members of the household. Each virtue was represented by an ideograph and each ideograph was accompanied with a specific symbolic drawing for that particular virtue. The principle of trust was illustrated with two birds, one with a bell, the other with a letter, which signified "where there is trust, feeling will find expression." (For similar munjado, see "Korean Art from the Brooklyn Museum" by Robert J. Moes, Universe Books, New York, pp 124, 125.) This munjado, which originally may have been mounted on a screen, is matted with silk and framed with a Korean wood frame (see enlargement 2). There is one area where the paper surface is damaged on the lower right side, and faint horizontal lines can be seen where the painting was rolled too tightly. Dimensions without frame: height 22 3/4" (58 cm), width 11 3/4" (30 cm). Dimensions with frame: height 28" (71 cm), width 17" (43 cm), depth 1" (3 cm).


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