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Palace Architecture of Ch'cagdok-kung

-Yoon, Chang Sup (Member,National Academy of Sciences)



-Cultural Background
-Characteristics of Korean Architecture
-Site Palanning and Rear Garden
-
Architecture of Injong-jon
-References



1.Cultural Background



l.Social and Economic Changes

The most serious problem Korea faced in the seventeenth century was the desperate fiscal situation caused by the Japanese invasion. To improve the fiscal deficiency, the former tribute taxation system was superceded by a new enactment known as the Uniform Lank Tax Law (Tae-dong-pop). Its significance was that the new law created a fair taxation system that reduced the economic burden of the farmer. Under the new system, only about one percent of the rice harvest was to be paid in tax. Another advantage was that tax could be paid in cotton cloth or coin as well, This system also induced the accumulation of commercial capital for merchants who served as purchasing agents to furnish government procurements and were known as "tribute men" (kong-in).

Preciously there had been a system of government supported craftsmen, by them handicraft items were produced to meet the needs of the royal court and the government. But it was impossible to continue this system because the government was under financial deficit. Accordingly, the dismissed govemment craftsmen started their own businesses and sold their products in a free market. Some of the successful craftsmen became tribute contractors for the govenrment in their own specialities.

The enactment of the Taedong-pop made the activities of private merchants more evident in Seoul, then later throughout the country. Under such conditions, scholars began advocating the promotion of commerce and the development of manufacturing tools and the circulation of handicraft products. They stressed the importance of promoting industy and technology.

Park Che-ga (l750- l805) urged the development of commerce and technology which had been adopted by the Ch'ing dynasty of China following the western models. Since Korea's border with China was to the north, this group of scholars was called the School of Northern Learning, and Park wrote a book entitled "Discourse on Northern Learning (Puk-hah-ui), The main issues of the book were the adoption of western technology and the promotion of commerce. His assertions promoted the breakdown of the prevailing attitude of yang-ban (the two upper classes of old Korea) that despised commerce and craftsmanship.

 

2. Practial Learning and Western Civilization

Transmission of western civilization and culture to Korea was initiated at the end of the sixteenth century by China. At first, a Korean envoy to the Chinese Court returned home with a world map of Europe and the "True Principles of Catholicism" (Ch'onju-sirui) witten by Matteo Ricci, Then the Sirhak (Practical Learning for practical utilization and public welfare) thinker Yi Su-gwang (1563- 1628) took an interest in the new religion. He made references to Ricci's writings in his book, Chibong-Yusol. Later scholars such as Yi Ik (1681-1788) and An Chong-bok(1712-1791)were also curious about Catholicism and discussed it in their writings. Moreover, the leading scholar Ch'ong Yag-yong (1762-l836) converted to Christianity

Every aspect of Western Learning made a considerable impression on many Korean scholars. A typical example was that of Yi Ik, a scholar independent of the government in the early eighteenth century, He accepted the idea that the earth was round, and asserted that western maps showing the continent surrounded by oceans had been made from actual observation and were therefore accurate. One of the more interesting books he read was Matteo Ricci's "Original Text of Geomety", a translation of Euclid's Geometry into Chinese. He also remarked on the use of the perspective method in western painting, which was not familiar to the Far East.

In the eighteenth century, ideas of western civilization were broadly propagated among intellectuals in Korea, enabling scholars to change their conception of the world. Their realization and acknowledgement of the achievement! s of western science provided a turning point for a reform of conventional norms and values. From the seventeenth century on, the movement of Practical Learning grew rapidly among scholars who were out of political power. Their recognition of empirical methods and factual testimony was increasingly enlightened by growing information of western academic knowledge.

The Sirhak scholars defied empty formalism and ritual trivialities. Yoon Hyu (16I7-1680) criticized the formalism of Chu Hsi and stated that even neo- Confucianism might not deserve to be fellowed blindly without proper evaluation, Pak Se-dang (1629-1703) held the same opinion and set out to impartially examine all classic doctrines. He wrote a commentary on Taoism which was deprecated by Confucianists of his time.

Yi Ik followed the traits of Practical Learning and extended his inquiries in both breadth and depth, establishing a distinct school of thought. His major writing, "Songho sasol" displays the diversity of his scholarship. Almost encyclopedic in its coverage, it illustrates his colorful and varied method of studying. Chong Yag-yong was a scholar who admired Yi Ik and expanded his approach in a most comprehensive manner. Forced into retirement by the Catholic Persecution of l801 and banished for l8 years, he wrote many books.

Based on his personal experiences and investigations, Chong analyzed and compiled almost a11 aspects of Practical Learning in the late Chosun Dynasty. He has thus been regarded as one of the greatest scholars of Sirhak.

The major concern of the Sirhak scholars was the illumination of history and contemporary affairs. By no means limiting their scholarship to the fields of politics and economics, they extended their inquiries and contributions to many other areas such as Chinese classical studies, historiography, geography, natural sciences, agriculture, architecture and many other fields. Indeed, Sirhak scholars were concerned with virtually every branch of learning,

 

3. Influence of Taoism

Since ancient times, there was the Tao of Mystery (Hyunmyo-chi-Tao) in Korea, also called the Tao of National Immortals (Kuksun-Tao) or the Tao of Elegancy (Pungryu-Tao). It's ideologies greatly influenced and enlightened the people. Actually, this ancient Tao had been included in all of the fundamental principles of the three major religions in Korea, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Taoism was transmitted to Korea in the Koguryo Dynasty, and was fused with ancient cosmic philosophy. Since then it affected the social life of Koreans continuously. Among the three religions, Taoism was the most sympathetic to the flow of thought inherent in ancient Koreans. Even though it was transmitted without peculiar religious features, as with Buddhism or Confucianism, Taoism exerted deep influence on the subconsciousness of the people in their daily lives. Beginning as the Tao of Elegancy in ancient Korea, Taoist thought continued as disciplinary Taoism in the late United Shila dynasty, It was passed on through generations being combined with geomancy, Buddhism, shamanism and other folk beliefs.

In the beginning of the Chosun dynasty, the disciplinary Taoism was vigorously promoted by the influential scholar Kim Si-sup (1484-1493), From then on this current of Taoism was popular among intellectuals. Disciplinary Taoism was even more actively promoted by the mid-Chosun dynasty. It broadly influenced the people and permeated through their daily social lives in every aspect. Taoist thought and its concomitant concept of Divine Immortal (Shin- sun) exerted great influence on the Koreans. It became a folk religion which constituted the main values and ideas of the people as a whole. Since the mid Chosun dynasty, the thoughts of Divine Immortals and Taoism have greatly affected creative activities in folk art, literature and painting.

It is the author's assertion that the role of Taoism in architecture, furniture making and handicraft, which were designed and produced by Korean artisans, cannot be overemphasized, Its manifestations are evident in the superb quality of rusticity of these arts. Most works of art made by Korean architects and craftsmen reflect the famous design axiom which was mentioned by Laotzu; "Great ingenuity is something like artlessness or rusticity".


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