An exhibition that I found truly unique and inspirational today was the Korean Funerary Figures at the Korean Cultural Center London. Kokdu are miniature sculptures produced by village artisans during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) for the purpose of guiding, guarding, caring and entertaining the deceased during his/her trip from home to the burial site. Sounds gloomy, but really the Kokdu reflect how a sad occasion can be converted into a colorful and uplifting ceremony.
The Kokdu statuettes are beautiful both on the bier and on its own- they reflect an aesthetic that is really only unique to Korean tribal folklore. They are extremely rare because most of them have been destroyed since the start of Korean modernization, during the early 20th century. Recognizing the importance of Kokdu and Sangyeo (funeral bier) to Koren Heritage, the Kokdu museum in Korea has reproduced a replica of a funeral bier from the Late Joseon dynasty (funeral biers belonging to individuals of status such as Kings and nobles were burned after the coffin was transported to the final burial destination).
No matter the social status of a person during their life-time, at their death both peasants and kings received an equally respectful burial ceremony, embellished with a Kokdu equipped Sangyeo and transported by others who carried the bier- symbolizing the respectfulness and equality of humans when they die. I find this Korean tradition quite humble and fresh because an acknowledgement of a life without judgment of status achievement is paid while, on the other hand, at times war and disagreement too many have lost their lives humiliatingly and without recognition.
Did you like today’s post? Visit the Funerary Figures exhibition, which started on July 11th and will last until September 8th 2012. Also follow my posts capturing impressions during my trip to Korea this summer (August 7th to 13th) to find out more about Korean culture, food, events and fun moments 🙂
Wish you all a great weekend!