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The Korean-Arts’

Monthly* Newsletter for May 01, 2007



New Items


Scroll Paintings


On Sale Now

About Korea: Buddha’s Birthday Celebration



New Items…

*        Jewelry


Inspired in by the popular Korean historical drama Hae-sin and the authentic costumes it brings to the screen, our new earrings combine the authentic touches of jewelry of the Shilla Dynasty yet, have a modern flair. We have seven new designs including the Black Chandelier Mother of Pearl Earrings shown at right, and six other designs. All our jewelry is designed and created one at a time by hand, using the finest quality gemstones; turquoise, jade, onyx, and other materials such as, sterling silver, mother of pearl, and coral. Since each piece is made one at a time, we will only carry limited quantities and will make new pieces as they are ordered. So there is a possibility that the jewelry you order may be delayed by a week or so while it is being made. In such cases, we will, naturally, inform you. See our new earrings here and our entire jewelry selection here!



*        Paintings


We have several new smaller scroll paintings for hanging in smaller areas and apartments featuring classic scenes of mist filled Korean mountains and valleys, and a larger scroll painting with the traditional theme of bamboo, one of the four gracious plants. Bamboo stands for integrity and also represents winter because it bares its green leaves even in the snow. We also have a number of other scroll paintings on sale at low prices. See our new scroll paintings here, all our paintings here, and our paintings on sale here.



*        More




The Mal-dduk-i or servant mask, shown, is a hand-carved and painted, full-sized mask such as that used during the traditional Korean mask dance (Tal-chum), and features a cloth hood to cover the performers head. The original meaning of the Tal-nori (Tal play), or Tal-chum (Tal dance), is a play or dance that helps shed ones stress and grief. During the Koryo Dynasty there was a considerable amount of social tension and the lower classes found a way to relieve not only their everyday stresses, but the tensions which existed between the many social classes in Korea, through the Tal-nori. The plays often satirized upper classes of society by portraying the Yang-ban, or aristocrats, with deformed faces. Read more about the Korean mask dance here. We also have new Bun-cheong plates with a design from the Chosun Dynasty. See all our new items here.




On Sale Now


Three new scroll paintings from our Four Gracious Plants collection, two bamboo, and one wild orchids painting, are reduced to nearly half price. Additionally, one teapot set and five of our celadon teacup sets with built in strainers are on sale and make perfect, and inexpensive, gifts. To help make gift-giving easier we have also reduced the price of gift-wrapping. See all our sale items here.




About Korea: Buddha's Birthday Celebration


*   Buddha’s Birthday in Korea:


Most traditional Korean holidays are celebrated on the lunar calendar and so change on the solar calendar each year. This year Buddha’s birthday will be on 4/08 on the lunar calendar which is 5/24 on the solar calendar. Preparations for the event begin several months in advance by decorating many of the major streets with strings of lanterns. The week of the birthday there are generally a number of events leading up to the day and this year include a lantern lighting festival in front of city hall on the 5/09, lantern making festivals at most of the Buddhist temples 5/19, and in downtown Seoul in front of Jo-gye-sa (one of the largest temples and the largest Buddhist sect in Korea) a Buddhist street festival during the day on 5/20.

That evening there is a large lantern parade going down the main street of Jong-ro (one of the main streets in Seoul). The parade is an extravagant affair that goes non-stop for two and a half hours, represents Buddhist sects from all over Korea, and the world, and showcases hundreds of floats and over 100,000 lanterns. See more pictures from the lantern festival here.

The day of Buddha’s birthday the temples are decorated with thousands of lanterns and are lit at night. Scores of people visit the temples throughout the day and into the evening to pray, see the beautiful lanterns or simply partake in the atmosphere. Traditional Korean food and rice wine is also served on the grounds and contribute to the pleasant atmosphere. Up until several years ago, the lanterns were lit with real candles and walking under them was quite an affair as the hot wax would drip onto ones head with each gust of the wind. Nowadays, electric lights are used and the event is a bit safer, although not such an adventure. See more pictures from the Buddha's birthday celebration at Jo-gye-sa temple here.

See more pictures from the Buddha’s birthday celebration at Jo-gye-sa temple here.


*   The Real Buddha


“Buddha”, was born as a prince in Northern India in about 563 BC (some scholars disagree on this) as Siddhartha Gautama, the son of King Shuddhodana and Queen Mayadevi. India was at that time a Hindu society in which reincarnation was accepted and it was thought life on earth was but a series of reincarnations. The goal then was to avoid the endless series of reincarnations, and the suffering that accompanied them, and achieve Nirvana. Into this society, Prince Gautama was born and raised in a life of luxury, married and had a son, and led a normal life up until the age of twenty-nine at which time he left his home to become a religious wanderer (a common practice at the time). He studied under several masters during that time and engaged in fasting, often to near death, to achieve a higher level of meditative enlightenment. Finally, one day while meditating under a tree, later known as the tree of enlightenment, he achieved a state of enlightenment, said his rebirths were over and stated that he had entered Nirvana even while in his present life. He had become the “Buddha”. He spent the remainder of his time spreading word of the path to enlightenment.

His doctrine, and path to achieving Nirvana, says that existence is an evil and can be eliminated by getting rid of desires of life and things of sense. By achieving this state in which there is a complete lack of desires and practicing the eight precepts of the way to Nirvana which include in part, celibacy, the practice of good deeds, and contemplation, one can achieve Nirvana at, or even before, one’s death.


*   Buddhism in Korea


Early Buddhism was introduced into Korea at the end of the fourth century from China but took on a unique style of its own under the early rulers of the royal court who used the religion as a faith of national defense and prayer. They also consolidated the various sects which had not been accomplished in Chinese Buddhism. Due to Buddhism in Korea being tied to the royal court, in the late eighteenth century, the Japanese used the introduction of their style of Buddhism and their temples into Korea as a political tool to aid in the eventual annexation of Korea which occurred in 1910. To this day there is a rift amongst the sects of Korean Buddhism which was caused by the introduction of the Japanese sects. Korea currently is about 26% Buddhist, 26% Christian, 46% no affiliation and 2% other. Although, only 26% of the population is Buddhist, many more than that enjoy watching the lantern festival and partaking in the other activities associated with the Buddha’s birthday celebration much like many non-Christians celebrate Christmas in the West.

Fortunately for us, the influence of Buddhism during the Koryo Dynasty, and the need of the temples, and likewise the royal court, for fine vessels to be used during the many ritual ceremonies, was largely responsible for the development of what is now known as Korean celadon and a general flourishing of the arts of the period.


*   Additional Links


Vesak (Buddha’s birthday): Wikipedia

About Buddha: Wikipedia





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