Friday, February 28, 2014

Celestial Beings and Trompe l'oeil

These angelic-like celestial beings appearing on the Bongwonsa Temple are similar to those I've seen on other Buddhist temples in Korea. I like the combination of relief woodwork along with the mural paintings. The wooden column has a nice example of a Trompe 'oeil effect, made to look like an actual curtained fabric.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Celestial Snowy Scene

Yet another white sculpture found at the Bongwonsa Temple in Seoul. Leaving it up to my interpretation, it looks like a goddess on a lotus calmly subduing a beast. I'd love to hear the actual story.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Exaggerated Buddhist Faces

Amongst the row of sculptures at the Bongwonsa Buddhist Temple in Seoul, I found these three particularly expressive. I'd love to hear the story behind the figures and the reasons for their exaggerated expressions. They'd make a great creative writing stimulation and are wonderful examples for art students studying figure drawing. Seeing the snow piled up on them, I'm sure some captions involving the seeming never-ending winter season could be penned by some suffering Midwesterners of the USA. What would you write?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Behind the Layers

Bongwonsa Temple, Seoul
Although I find the highly intricate paintings on temples to be exquisitely beautiful, the faded scenes also attract my attention. What stories do these flecking paints or stained surfaces have to tell us? How do the processes of pigment application vary from when the murals were first created? What devotion the artists must have had, painstakingly rendering each detail. What would they think to see their designs all faded away?
Thanjavur Hindu temple, India

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter at Bongwonsa Temple

The freshly fallen snow enhanced the tranquility of the scene at Bongwonsa Temple in Seoul. An easy hike from my school, I love how the area transports me to what feels like a totally different area.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snowy Gold and Sunflowers

This cheery Buddha sculpture greeted me as I walked by on a pretty Sunday morning stroll. A bit odd to see the equally golden sunflowers all snow-covered as well. Definitely not a scene one would see in Thailand.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Can't Forget the Cow

Although not one of the masked Hahoe performers in Andong, I believe that the cow deserves some attention as well. This character in the performance (actually made possible by two performers) is quite straightforward. It meanders about near the beginning of the performance, even stops to take a bathroom break, and unfortunately succumbs to the knife of the butcher. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Kaksi Mask, Korea

The final Hahoe mask I will write about is Kaksi (or Gaksi). She represents a young newly-married woman. Still a common practice in Korea, she lives with her in-laws, where she must be humble, discreet, and non-judgmental towards her new family. The only masked Hahoe figure to have firmly closed lips, this connotes her need for endurance during those first challenging years of marriage. With slightly downcast eyes and gentle twisted hair, she walks with light, but unwavering steps. Kaksi is the only Hahoe mask to be portrayed in a more heroic, non-hypocritical manner.
Read more about Kaksi and other Hahoe masks at the Hahoe Mask Museum website.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Sonbi Mask, Korea

Another one of the traditional Hahoe masks from Korea is Sonbi (or Seonbi). A scholar of noble heritage, the stern looking Sonbi is seen in the performance squabbling with the aristocratic Yongban over which had the higher status. Its bulging eyes indicate excessive reading, and the high checkbones and hollow upper lids connote someone who is so absorbed in his studies he couldn't look after his household. Hollow cheekbones are typical of other masked figures who have hardship, but Sonbi's are somewhat intentional and self-inflicted due to his complex thoughts. Overall, his look is one of personal dissatisfaction. In the play, Sonbi competes with Yonban over wooing the woman Pune.

Read more about Sonbi and other Hahoe Masks at the Hahoe Mask Museum website.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Choraengi Mask, Korea

Yet another one of the twelve original Hahoe masks is Choraengi. A servant of the aristocratic Yongban, Choraengi is haughty and disrespectful towards his master. Its protruding brow is symbolic of one who is obstinate, and its short wrinkled nose is indicative of one who is unable to accumulate property and is quick-tempered. Choraengi also has hollow-looking cheeks (much like Halmi the old woman and Sonbi), indicating a life of hardship.
Read more about Choraengi at the Hahoe Mask Museum website.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Paekchong Mask, Korea

Paekchong (or Baekchong) is the butcher in the Hahoe mask performance. Like other societies, its meat-handling profession put it in lowest class in Korean society. Its facial features including pointed eyes, furrowed wrinkled brow, protruding lip, cheek lines, and an overall rough look connotes a certain amount of wickedness and ruthlessness. Like the Chung (monk) mask, the character has a small lump on its forehead, connoting gloom. However, Paekchong does feel guilt for the taking of life. In the play I saw, Paekchong battled with the cow, killed it, promptly butchered it and removed the heart and testicles, which he first offered to the audience and then sold to the Yangban character.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Imae Mask, Korea

Imae, a servant of the aristocratic character Seonbi, is depicted as the village idiot or fool. Good natured (symbolized by drooping eyes), Imae bears the brunt of his master's temper. Just as Imae's nose is crooked, other parts of his body are deformed, including a limp arm and twisted leg. Although Imae's disabilities were much more pronounced, other Korean masked characters also include illnesses and deformities. Unlike many of the Hahoe masks, Imae is missing a lower jaw. According to legend, the original mask maker Ho died while making the Imae mask, leaving it incomplete.
Read more about Imae and other masks on the Hahoe Mask Museum website.