Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Royal Tombs of Joseon Dynasty

Jinny Hwang Inhee presented on the Royal Tombs of Joseon. She is an expert and has made an in-depth study of the Joseon Dynasty royal tombs, and in her expressive slide show she explained many of the characteristic features of the tombs. Jinny Hwang Inhee, a graduate from the Civics Education Department, Ewha Womans University, spoke in Korean and Kim Jaebum, a RAS Council member, provided English translation. Jinhee is a writer and an educator. Since 2013 she has been serving as President of the Durumari History Education Institute.

A write-up of her presentation is as follows: 

The Joseon Dynasty, the last period in Korean history before the Japanese annexation, was founded by General Yi Seonggye in 1392 and forcibly annexed to the Japanese Empire in 1910. While the dynasty lasted for 519 years, 27 kings and 45 queens reigned, including the last two with the title of “Emperor” with their empresses in the Daehan / Korean Empire. In all, 42 Joseon royal tombs including two in Gaeseong, presently North Korea, are preserved, virtually all that were built. The 40 of them located in South Korea are registered by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage not only for the aesthetic value of their sculpture but also for the entirety of their preservation. 
It is also amazing to note that the royal ancestral rituals jerye have been observed continuously for 623 years. The main Jeonju Yi family Jongyagwon had to overcome difficulties following the demise of the dynasty to continue the ritual at the graves, while that held at the main shrine of Jongmyo, which is now held once on the first Sunday of May each year, is also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
  • last of the Korean traditional dynasties
  • founded by General Yi Seonggye in 1392
  • 27 kings & 45 queens
  • from 1392 - 1910, a span of 519 years
  • royal tombs - a graveyard exclusive for kings and queens
Joseon Royal Tombs
  • 42 tombs in total = 40 in South Korea + 2 in Gaeseong, present-day North Korea
  • the 40 tombs in South Korea are UNESCO World Culture Heritage, and they are protected for their aesthetic value and must be preserved in their entirety
  • all within 44 kilometers of Seoul, the capital
  • 2 in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do
  • ? in Yeongweol, Gangwon-do 
  • Jongyagwon, for the main Jeonju Yi family
  • rites at royal tombs continued even during Japanese occupation
  • Jongmyo Jerye 
  • 1st Sunday of May each year
  • UNESCO World Cultural Heritage
  • continued for over 600 years
King or Queen Dies
  • establish gukjangdogam
  • place corpse in jaegung and keep it at binjeon
  • observe rites and mourn for 5 months
  • no preservatives or cooling facilities
  • cultivate juniper for incense
Constructing Tombs
  • select site
  • form mound and excavate 3 meters deep
  • make room for stones or lime walls
  • stone sculptures to decorate
  • build jeongjagak at entrance
  • erect hongsalmun gate 
(read more about tombs and their terms)
Burial and Rites
  • 5 months after demise
  • take soul in shinju back to the palace
  • rites in honjeon every morning and evening for 3 years
  • move shinju to Jongmyo
  • royal name, the myoho, is given
  • queen's soul to Jongmyo 3 years after king's death
Location and Feature
  • best location: big mountain to the north, low hills to the south, views to the east and west
  • features differ between each era based on:
  • state law
  • extent of royal power
  • political circumstances
  • economic conditions
  • topography of the site
Basic Structure
  • jaeshil at entrance
  • geumcheongyo bridge
  • baewi

Chamdo: Path for Worship
  • long stone path for hongsalmun
  • left: shindo - soul, tomb owner
  • right: eodo - lower status on up to ancestors
  • soul-tablet in yellow cloth on shindo
  • left: luxurious patterns for souls
  • right: without ornaments for kings
  • down staircase behind the palace
  • soul to neungchim to fall quietly to sleep, no stairway to come down
  • exclusive for royal tombs (if at other tombs, people arrested and killed as traitors)
  • entrance and exit:
  • direction decided and must connect to chamdo
  • enter from the east: sunrise, beginning, birth, spring, etc.
  • leave toward the west: death, extinction
Smaller Annexes
  • subokbang - on right before jeongjagak; for tomb keeper and night duty
  • suragan - royal kitchen on left; prepare food and offerings
  • bigak - a little further inside and on the right; tombstone etching on whose tomb
Sachoji or Gang
  • hill behind jeongjagak
  • unique style of Joseon royal tombs
  • 2 meanings of gang:
  • tank for storing vigor streaming into the soil
  • demonstrate dignity as power
  • hiking precluded - somewhat open to the neungchim at the front
Museogin and Munseogin
  • stages divided by stones on top of sachoji
  • lower stage: museogin and maseok - have warrior-shaped generals with swords
  • middle stage: munseogin and maseok - have officials, most of whom are scholars
  • interpretation: "The pen is mightier than the sword" meaning literary preference over military 
  • reign continues posthumously
  • variations in garments by king:
  • museogin placed only in royal tombs
  • civilian graves considered treacherous
  • top stage - burial mound neungchim
  • gokjang:
  • walls and roof tiles surrounding 3 sides
  • sun, moon, stars
  • resemble palace buildings' back walls
  • royal tombs as epitomes of the palace
Seogmul and Honyuseok
  • seogmul - in front of gokjang
  • yangseok - sheep = obedience; repel evil
  • hoseok - tiger = loyal; patron neungchim
  • honyuseok - in front of neungchim
  • for offerings in ordinary graveyards
  • "stone where the soul plays"
Goseok and Mangjuseok
  • goseok - stones supporting honyuseok look like drums
  • guimyeon - faces of ghost or goblin
  • mangjuseok - on each side of honyuseok: "observing stone poles" with several hypothesis about their use:
  • sign for soul from body to find neungchim
  • device to harmonize yin and yang
  • instrument to hold vigor from being scattered 
  • columns a division between this world and the next
Seho and Jangmyeongdeung
  • seho embossed on stone poles
  • shape of ear with holes
  • developed into animal shapes
  • some not like tigers but wizards
  • jangmyongdeung to honyuseok
  • to pray for souls of the departed
  • shape altered in each era
  • scale gradually shrank - later kings were more pragmatic
  • initial period of the kingdom:
  • conscripted manpower 5,000 for each tomb
  • construction work - up to 5 months
  • mobilized personnel to carry food
  • construction bothered people
  • great agony on people in Gyeonggi where a large number of royal tombs have been built
  • their endeavor and perseverance enables us to possess World Cultural Heritage today
Books Published:

Other notes:
  • gukjangdogam - nation-wide royal funeral 
  • In inclement weather when the body began to smell, the court spread juniper branches.
  • 일월성신 - sun, moon, star decorations on the wall that surrounds the tombs
  • 선장릉 - When UNESCO came to evaluate the tombs as a future UNESCO World Culture Heritage site, the Korean government didn't want to show the 선장릉 because there was no body inside. Eventually they did and it was highly regarded, especially as it was on very valuable land.
  • The Silla and Koryeo Dynasty tombs were traditionally built on flat ground, but in the Joseon Dynasty, tombs were built on the top of artificial mounds.
  • Today, there are three places where royal ancestor worship are held - the dates:
  • 1st Sunday of May (solar calendar)
  • each ancestor's memorial day

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