Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nat'l Museum of Korea: Moveable Type (special exhibition)

The National Museum of Korea has a special exhibition displaying huge trays of moveable type with placards around giving more specific information on what is being seen. The museum has two English-speaking docents who are new to guiding guests, but they were phenomenal in organization of slides and content. The docent who primarily led this tour, Sun, put together the following slides to facilitate guests in gaining easy access to a lot of information in the single-hour tour. Thank you, Sun! 

National Museum of Korea: Home to world's largest collection of moveable type 

The National Museum of Korea is holding the first-ever exhibition presenting a complete picture of the Joseon Dynasty moveable type housed in its collection. Most of the more than 820,000 pieces of moveable type were used by the royal court and in government offices from the 17th to early 20th centuries. It is a rare case for such a large volume of moveable type originating within a single dynasty to have survived. In terms of both quantity and quality, over 500,000 of the pieces of metal moveable type in the collection have no parallel anywhere in the world.

Moveable type represents the ambitions of the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty as they sought to govern the nation through Confucian principles. Chests for storing moveable type pieces allow a glimpse into Joseon typesetters' unique system for classifying and storing moveable type pieces.

Chests for storing and organizing moveable type

Metal moveable type produced by the state represented royal authority and therefore demanded meticulous maintenance and management. A set of moveable type was generally stored in a collection of seven chests, and the amount stored in each chest was recorded in a moveable type catalog knows as a jabo. These catalogs classified moveable type in Chinese characters in a manner distinct from the system found in classic dictionaries of Chinese characters. For more convenient use and storage of moveable type, certain radicals of the Chinese characters were integrated with other radicals, and characters were classified by shape rather than by the number of strokes.

In Joseon why was moveable type produced?

In contrast to woodblock printing that was by nature restricted to only the inscribed content, moveable type, once produced, could rapidly print a range of documents by simply recombining type pieces as needed.

How many times was moveable type produced?

During the Joseon dynasty, both metal and wooden moveable type sets were respectively produced at least 30 times. Production of metal moveable type was mostly a project of the state, and wooden moveable type was also produced by the state on a number of occasions. The quantity of wooden moveable type produced by the citizenry is difficult to determine.

How many pieces of moveable type were produced each time?

Due to the quantity of type pieces required to print several kinds of books in logographic Chinese characters with a given set, at least tens of thousands of pieces were produced for each set of moveable type. Additionally, pieces of type that might appear multiple times on a single page were often produced in the hundreds.

A Timeline of Moveable Type

No comments:

Post a Comment