Symbolism in Korean Ink Brush Painting

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Global Oriental, 2006 - Art - 414 pages
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With more than 200 colour plates, and for the first time available as a study in English, this volume explores the vast heritage of Korean ink brush painting, providing a rich panorama of information that stretches across the entire spectrum of Korean art – including painting, pottery, calligraphy and literature, which will have wide appeal, not least to art lovers and students of Korean Studies. Part I presents the material in essay form; Part II, which uses a dictionary format, summarizes the information in Part I and highlights the hidden messages and symbolism inherent in literati ink brush painting in Korea. When China and Japan opened up to outside influence in the nineteenth century, Korea maintained a closed-door policy, becoming known as the ‘hermit kingdom’, only to be swallowed up in the struggle for hegemony between the Great Powers. Annexation by Japan in 1910 threatened Korea’s language and culture with extinction. Liberation in 1945 was followed by the tragedy of the Korean War in 1950. In the period of reconstruction after the Korean War, artists and scholars faced the task of retrieving Korea’s endangered cultural tradition. Ink brush painting is a unique part of this tradition; its history stretches back through the Choson dynasty when Chinese influences were assimilated and absorbed and made into Korea’s distinctive tradition.

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About the author (2006)

Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1931, Francis Mullany was ordained a priest with the Columban Fathers in 1955 and assigned to Korea, where he lived and worked until 1999, mostly as a parish priest in Cholla Province, the homeland of the Korean ink brush painting tradition. Subsequently, he returned to Columban Headquarters at Dalgan Park in Ireland. Throughout his time in Korea, Fr Mullany pursued his keen interest in Korean art and culture and in particular the symbolism in ink brush painting.

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