Saturday, April 18, 2009

불빛이 찬란하게 비친 청계천

Cheonggyecheon is once again lighted after Christmas. This time, it is for the coming Lotus Lantern Festival. In China, lantern is associated with Chinese New Year, in Singapore, it is Mid-Autumn Festival and in Korea, it is Buddha Birthday. Lanterns are not confined only to Cheonggyecheon. In fact, during this period, small lotus lanterns are hanging from lamp post to lamp post all over Seoul.

What seems like a zither is actually called Gayageum - an instrument believed to be founded in the state of Gaya. In other instance, I have to learn to call what seems like traditional Chinese medicine as traditional Korean medicine. To the untrained eyes, they are probably the same though there are differences.

The painting of zen master, Damo, which I saw frequently in Insadong has gone 3-D. I like this lantern for its simple calligraphy strokes.

Tiger is a symbol of Korea's strength. Recently, we have an interesting argument in class about whether Korea Peninsula looks like a tiger or rabbit. I think the argument is nothing more than whether one chooses to see half cup of water as half-filled or half-emptied.

The conventional images associated with monsters are hardly pleasant. However, monsters that appear in Korean folklore are more often than not, cute and sometimes stupid.

In Eastern countries, dragon is something auspicious but in Western countries, it is looked upon as something evil. Going back in history, East used to invade the West, carrying with them flags and banners that bore the images of dragon. Since then, dragon is seen as a symbol of evil invaders. History aside, the dragon lantern looks great.

The lanterns exhibited at Cheonggyecheon are of non-religious theme. They depict more of Korean arts and culture. I am quite glad I don't get to see disney character lanterns.

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