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Exhibition reflects on lives of Confucian scholars

Immersive art installation shows the Eungdodang lecture hall of Donam Seowon in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province (Institute of Korean Confucian Culture)
Immersive art installation shows the Eungdodang lecture hall of Donam Seowon in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province (Institute of Korean Confucian Culture)

To commemorate the opening of the Institute of Korean Confucian Culture, located in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province, a special exhibition looking back on the daily lives of seonbi, or Confucian scholars, is being held at the institute's Special Exhibition Hall.

The exhibition, "Revisiting Confucianism: The Root of Korean Spirit," concentrates on Confucianism of the 17th and 18th century and presents some 80 relevant relics from the 17th century to the 20th century.

During the period, seonbi pursued the role of a scholar as a leading social figure, expounding on the dignity of life and practicing public virtues.

The exhibition consists of three themes -- "Old Houses,” “Confucian Academies” and “Nine Scenic Valleys.”

The first part explores the architectural styles of the homes of Confucian scholars built to blend in harmoniously with the surrounding nature.

Carefully preserved portraits and simple altar tables handed down through generations as well as signboards of homes and memoirs indicating a noble family's social prestige, responsibility and academic achievements, are also on view.

One of the core Confucian values, "ye," meaning ritual and propriety, which was taught and practiced in seowon, or Confucian academies, is also explored in the exhibition.

Symbolic writings and objects from Donam Seowon in Nonsan, one of the nine UNESCO heritage seowon sites in the country, are also on display. King Gojong's (1852-1919) inkstone, oil lamp, seal and printed wooden blocks granted to the seowon can be viewed in this section.

The last part of the exhibition showcases a series of modern artworks that reinterpret the meaning of Confucianism in creative ways. For example, a well-known painting by Confucian scholar and official Yulgok Yi Yi is reinterpreted in a piece of video art.

The exhibition is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m from Tuesday to Sunday and is scheduled to run through June 2023.

King Gojong's (1852-1919) inkstone that is kept at Donam Seowon in Nonsan, South Chungcheon Province. (Institute of Korean Confucian Culture)
King Gojong's (1852-1919) inkstone that is kept at Donam Seowon in Nonsan, South Chungcheon Province. (Institute of Korean Confucian Culture)


By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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