Saturday, March 02, 2013

Ready for a Paint Job

In direct contrast to the rather blah skyscrapers of modern Seoul are the brightly painted palace buildings. Known as Dancheong (which literally means cinnabar and blue-green in Korean), this style of painting is not only decorative, but also functional. Dancheong helps protect the wood from weathering and from insects. In addition, Dancheong hides surface scratches, shows dignity, and reminds people to have a religious/worshipping attitude (particularly in temples). Five basic colors are used, representing the Five Elements: blue for wood and East; red for fire and South; yellow for earth and center, yellow for metal and West; black for water and North. Various patterns and colors denoted rank and social status. Whereas most of the buildings within the Gyeonbokgung and  Changdeokgung palaces were painted in the colorful style of Dancheong, each had a few buildings that were kept in a more austere, natural look.

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