1.1.2.1 Ancient Korean Art

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Pottery with applique design
Bangudae Petroglyphs
Bronze Age field

Pottery with comb design
Inkstone
Bronze ritual object

Like all peoples the Koreans have their myths and legends. Their creation myth is that Hwanin was the creator and Lord of Heaven. His son, Hwanung who brought his followeres from heaven to Earth, settling on Baekdu Mountain. He set about creating the necessary laws and moral codes and taught humans agriculture, arts and medicine.

A tiger and a bear asked Hwanung to change them into humans. The tiger failed to complete the process but the bear successfully transformed into a woman. He married her and they had a son, Dangun Wanggeom., who founded the kingdom in 2333 BCE. He became the first God-king of Gojosean and he built the first walled city of Asadal, some suggest this was near Pyongyang. However, much of this legend first emerged in the 13th c CE, and cites sources that are not extant.

As elsewhere, prior to the invention of pottery, to store or carry food vessels had to be made of organic materials like lproved more durable, and could be used for cooking. Pottery helped to stabilize human diet, and made it possible for ancient communities to settle down in a place. There were some earlier attempts at pottery, but the major Neolithic period in Korea was 8,000-3,500 BCE, this Jeulmum pottery were patterned, the Jeulmun literally mening comb-patterned. Mumun pottery produced undecorated items in the Bronze Age 1,500-300 BCE. Pottery of the Byeonhan, Jinhan, and Mahan confederacies emerged from 100 BE to 300 CE.C during the Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea, or Samhan, period.

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Image source: museum.go.kr
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Korea developed pottery in the Neolithic period, 6,000-4,000 BCE. It was found in a shell-midden site at Dongsam-dong, Busan. Made from a soft clay and has an applique decoration,

It is 45 cm tall, and on show at the National Museum of Korea, Seoul.

A set of 304 petroglyphs was found and dated to 6,000 BCE. This was discovered at Bangudae by the Taehwagang River near Ulsan in Gyeongsangbuk-do. The three hundred images are land and sea animals. Access is complicated so there is a local museum with replicas.

Image source: korea.net

Perhaps most significantly the images have shown that Korea was whaling first in the world. There are human figures too which have exaggerated penises and mask-like faces. They are shown hunting, dancing and perhaps playing a musical instrument.


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Image source: Wikimedia commons

This aerial view reveals the traces of a Bronze Age field in Daepyeong-ri, Jinju.
Image source: : museum.go.kr
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Image source: Wikimedia commons
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This item of pottery dates from 4,000 BCE and bears the traditional Jeulmen comb patterns. It was found at Amsa-Dong, near Seoul and is on show at the British Museum.
This 16 cm high and 20 cm diameter, clay inkstone is dated to the late 6th and early 7th centuries. The notion came from the Southern Dynasties in ancient China, to Baekje. This was later passed on to Japan.
Image source: museum.go.kr
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This bronze ritual object, found at Daejeon, is dated to c500 BCE. It is 14cm high and on show at the National Museum of Korea, Seoul.
It is unusual in terms of the designs on its two sides. One shows an agricultural scene:

Image source: museum.go.kr

Image source: museum.go.kr

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