July 25, 2021
KCNA Voice of Korea (EN)

Tanchong, Precious Cultural Wealth of the Nation

Date: 18/06/2021 | Source: Voice of Korea (EN) | Read original version at source

The Korean nation with a 5,000-year-long history has a lot of cultural heritages evoking the admiration of the world people. One of them is Tanchong.  Tanchong means paintings or patterns drawn on pillars, rafters, walls and ceilings in different colors to decorate the buildings gorgeously.  Originally, the Korean ancestors applied mineral paints to the wooden structures in order to keep them from rotting by wind and rain or being moth-eaten. Later, Tanchong was developed into an element decorating the buildings.  Doctor and Associate Professor Jo Hwi Nam, Section Chief of the Folklore Institute under the Academy of Social Sciences, says:  "Tanchong had long been used in the architecture of our country. It has diverse kinds and perfect system of techniques. It is largely divided into luxurious, common and simple paintings according to the formation of the patterns.  The common painting was most widely used. It was applied to all buildings as it was neither too simple nor complicated."  Patterns were also diverse. The lotus, Punic apple and mud-snail patterns were most commonly used. Sometimes, tens of kinds of patterns were used to finish a building with paintings.  Long ago, the wise Korean ancestors regarded Tanchong as an important decorative element in wood architecture and developed it into a diverse and elegant means of decoration with an integral system of formation, pattern arrangement and color harmony.  Jo Hwi Nam says:  "Until the 16th century the pillars were usually painted red and the brackets and ceilings green. Such technique had been applied since the time of the Koryo Dynasty. From the 17th century different other colors were applied and patterns arranged more delicately for splendid decoration. Yellowish brown color, that is, orange colour was much more used to make the buildings much brighter. Techniques became more diverse along with the alternate use of warm and cold colors. But the principle of painting the upper part green and the lower part red has been invariably inherited."  The beautiful and elegant Tanchong with a long history has become a precious cultural wealth of the nation thanks to the policy on preserving the national cultural heritages of the country. It is wonderfully carried forward and developed, further enriching its content and style according to the demand of the times and the desire of the people.

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