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Choson Dynasty


korea-garden.jpg (19400 bytes)The Choson Dynasty suppressed Buddhism in favor of Confucianism. Under such circumstances, the construction of temples declined drastically, while the construction of Confucian shrines and private and public Confucian academies flourished. A simpler system of column-head bracketing was generally favored in the highly Confucian society, though the multicluster bracket style was still used in some buildings. Kungnakchon of Muwisa temple, Kuksajon and Hasadang of Songgwangsa temple and Haet'almun gate of Togapsa temple are examples of the column-head bracket style. The Namdaemun gate of Seoul, the Taeungjon hall of Pongjongsa temple and the Namdaemun gate of Kaesong represent the multicluster bracket style of the early Choson period.

 

In the aftermath of a series of foreign invasions, a new architectural style with wing-like brackets emerged during the mid-Choson period. Simpler and more economical than the column-head style, it was well-suited to the difficult financial situation the nation was experiencing caused by repeated wars and conflicts. However, palace buildings and important temple facilities continued to be built with the more ornate multicluster brackets, as is evident in the Myongjongjon hall in Ch'anggyonggung palace, the Kumganggyedan hall of T'ongdosa temple, the P'alsangjon of Popchusa and the Kak'wangjon of

 


 Hwaomsa temple. Public buildings built in the wing-like bracket style include the chongjon hall and the Yongnyongjon hall of Chongmyo, the royal ancestral shrine.

Toward the end of the 17th century, the Sirhak or "Practical Learning" school of Confucianism came into being. It greatly influenced the arts, encouraged scientific studies and inspired an awareness of nationalism throughout the 18th century. As Western thought and culture surged into the country, architecture, as well as other fields of art, underwent a period of decline, all of which was characterized by redundancy and superfluous decoration. Exemplary structures from this latter Choson period include the Injongjon hall of Ch'angdokkung palace, the Chunghwajon hall of Toksugung palace and Tongdaemun, the East Gate of Seoul.

Choson period town walls are best exemplified by ones constructed around Seoul which were built in 1396, and rebuilt in 1422. The walls around Suwon were completed in 1796. The Seoul City wall included four major gates at each compass point and four smaller ones in between each of them.

The vast majority of the Choson palaces were destroyed during the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598. Most of the wooden palace buildings now extant in Seoul were reconstructed during the middle and late Choson periods. The multicluster bracket style was used in most of the major palace structures, the audience halls and entrance gates, and the wing-like bracket style, in minor structures, such as houses and pavilions. Few palace buildings were built in the column-head style.

The roofs of the palace gates are hipped while the roofs of the main structures are hipped and gabled. Decorative ceramic figures in the shape of dragons and other animal heads are at each end of the ridges and rows of chapsang, which are clay figures derived from a popular Chinese story, line the sloping ridges to guard against evil spirits.

The ceilings of the major buildings are finished with checkered panels or with highly decorated canopies that hide the framework of the roofs. Brackets and ceilings are colorfully painted, and the areas where the tie beams and pillars meet are decorated with carved corbels.

Chang'gyong Palace

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