Recently I wrote about the fantastic exhibition Nonya Needlework at the Peranakan Museum Singapore.
In that same period I revisited Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum. It’s another of Singapore’s big and interesting museums.
I’ll tell you more about this museum in a separate post. Today I’m only covering one of the current exhibitions at the ACM.
Joseon Korea exhibition at Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore
So when I found out that the ACM has a big Korea exhibit I quickly made my way to the museum.
The precise title of the exhibition is Joseon Korea – Court Treasures and City Life.
Korea’s last dynasty
The Joseon (1392-1897) was Korea’s last dynasty and one of the most fascinating and dynamic periods in Korean history.
Three main principles
This dynasty was based on three principles:
- Neo-confucianism was elevated to state ideology
- Allegiance to the Ming dynasty
- Emphasis on agricultural development as the key to economic prosperity.
Three main values of Confucianism
In case you don’t know, this is what Confucianism is all about:
- filial piety
- ritual propriety, so ceremonial wares, furnishings and paintings are important, as are family shrines
Artistic and scientific advances
During the Joseon era there were many artistic and scientific developments.
- E.g. moveable metal printing continued to develop. Korea started with this earlier than Gutenberg in the 15th century in Germany, while we in the west think that HE was the inventor of book printing !
- The favourite color for porcelain shifted from green to white
- The style changed from ornate and exuberant in the previous dynasty to modest and simple.
Visiting this exhibit I learned that it was a Dutch man who ‘discovered’ Korea for the West. What a surprise to discover that a fellow Dutchman played a role in Korean history.
Let me tell you a bit about this Marco Polo of Korea, as some call him:
In 1653 there was a shipwreck of a Dutch vessel. The Korean government held the survivors captive in Korea for 13 years before they managed to escape.
One of the escapees, Hendrik Hamel, later wrote and published the first western book about the Kingdom of Korea.
Until then, not much was known about life in Korea, since the authorities shielded their country of for outsiders. That was also the reason that they did not allow the Dutch surviving sailors to leave the country.
And thus Hendrik Hamel became the first western chronicler of Korea and for that he is quite famous in Korea. To be honest: in Holland he is not known at all, hahaha… Although he did get his own statue and small museum not too long ago.
Becoming again, coming together is a contemporary installation by Korean artist Ran Hwang. Although this is a contemporary mixed media installation, it is filled with references to the Joseon dynasty.
Personally I have to say that this installation was my favourite part of the Joseon Korea exhibition. It’s pretty and poetic and the tunnel of white peppers creates a mysterious atmosphere.
A wall with a colourful scene made by winding threads around pins.
On the other side of the room you can watch a short video projection and there is a tunnel through which you can walk.
The exhibition Joseon Korea is on till july 23th 2017.