Friday, January 8, 2010

Korea Road Trip: Part 5

Gyeongju National Museum:
On our last day in Gyeongju, last week, we went to the Sokkuram Grotto (as seen in part 4) and then headed over to the Gyeongju National Museum.

The museum's background is that a group of residents in 1910 established a preservation effort of historic relics. They later opened an exhibition hall in 1913. After the independence from Japan the museum became a branch of the National Museum in Seoul. The main building and sight was built in 1975.

The museum houses some very important peices....

But the collection of this museum is especially important because it allows the general public, archaeologists, and historians to understand the rise of civilization in southeast Korea. The museum contains important items of national cultural heritage.
It was very cold and breezy outside so getting into a warm museum was ideal.
Main Exhibit Hall:

Ancient Three Kingdom and Tomb items:
Oil lamps
Dragon shaped pottery
Jade bead ornaments
Gold necklaces

Gold "Antler" shaped crown piece.

Gold Crown and National Treasure

Gold belt.
It is unknown whether these delicate gold ornaments were actually worn or used for tomb placement. Yet there is evidence of wear and tear on such objects and so they could have been worn during very special occasions. Combing through my Korean Art History book, for reference, it states that some of the motifs on these items have routes back to ancient Afghanistan. Gold-dress ornaments may have entered Silla period and they may have been influenced as the style made it's way through Northeast China. All in all they were symbolism of rank. Korea: Art and Archeology

Glass wares found in the tombs.

These too were said to have come from Eastern Asia...certainly the use of cobalt was highly valued and very expensive.

Eggs and Oval shaped pot. I believe it was said on the display case that the image of eggs and hens were praised symbol of that time.

Jars and cups used for rituals.
Figurine...and I'm sorry I am going to guess here that it is meant for shamanistic practices. 

These ones are in the shape of the zodiac animals.
Beaded necklace

We moved on to one of the other annex halls. On the way I caught sight of this interesting reflection made on the stair steps.

Throughout Gyeongju you could see this as a symbol used in banners and other marketing paraphernalia. It is called "Roof-end tile with smiling face".
It came from Yeongmyosa temple site. The expression such as smiling face is remarkable. This might have actually been used in life. This corroborates that the Silla people led affluent lives.

 Another part of this exhibit showed a model of the valley that the Silla people resided in. You could press some buttons and a certain historical point would light up.

Further into the hall was an exhibition of the Seated Prince Bodhisattva and other Buddhist relics.

What I found intriguing was looking at the back of the miniature statues. You could see the technique of bronze casting that was used.

We were starting to get hungry so we skipped ahead to the other annex building to check out what was there.

Inside the building they had these cube windows which made for a great photographic scene.
This was the Anapji Hall.

Anapji means "Goose and Duck Lake." It was originally constructed in February 674 during the reign of Munmu, the 30th king of Silla. Munmu's family was blessed with success.
As said in the historical book of Samguk-sagi, during the 14th year of King Munmu’s reign (AD 661~681) in the Silla period (57 BC ~ AD 935), a large pond was dug and small mountains were built all within the palace walls.

Silver ornaments with crystals.

When Anapji was drained and excavated in 1975, many relics dating from the Unified Silla period (668-935) were found. ... The entire floor of the pond was covered with pebbles to keep the water clear. On the whole, Anapji and the surrounding garden were designed in a microcosmic style to symbolize the dwellings of Taoist fairies. The entire area was so arranged as to create the effect of a landscape painting.

 So we ended our look at the Silla relics and headed back to the car. On the way we passed the Divine Bell of King Songdok. Remember there is no little ball or clapper inside ...instead this bell is a gong.

It took more than 30 years to complete this bell.

View of the area near the bell.

I hope I have humbly exposed my trip to the museum and shown the pieces with respect to their history. I think if you are in this area in the future go visit this museum.

We are now coming up on the final leg of my road trip around Korea, which is our trip to Busan so keep a look out for those posts.

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