Chosenzue (朝鮮圖繪)

Joseon dynasty, Late 17-19th century, ink and color on paper, 30.8×1446.0cm, Main Library Kyoto University of Japan

ⓒMain Library, Kyoto University of Japan

This painted handscroll includes depictions of the island Jeolyeongdo in Busan, various events associated with the Waegwan, as well as residents of the Waegwan. This exhibition features a selection of particularly notable scenes from the handscroll including a depiction of the Dongnae Magistrate meeting with an official from Daemado, the two sections of the Waegwan known as the Donggwan and the Seogwan, the procession of the Dongnae Magistrate, and Japanese people hunting tigers and quails. Many of the scenes resemble genre paintings from the late Joseon period, however, the high level of detail in each image more closely reflects the style of documentary painting. In a fitting end to the handscroll, the final scene depicts Korean and Japanese figures enjoying a feast together in a demonstration of harmony and mutual respect between the two countries.

   Various scenes from Chosenzue

The procession of the Dongnae Magistrate

The Dongnae Magistrate was responsible for greeting the Japanese delegation when they arrived in Joseon. Due to his role in coordinating the reception of the Japanese envoy as well as his administrative duties at the Waegwan, the Magistrate had to be both charismatic and knowledgeable. In the painting, the Magistrate appears in a sedan chair on his return to Dongnae Fortress.

Yongdu Mountain and donggwan

The Waegwan is divided into a west section (Seogwan) and an east section (Donggwan) around Yongdu mountain at the center. In the painted scene depicting Yongdu Mountain and the Donggwan, the artist describes the various buildings within the complex and identifies them with individual inscriptions. This provides the viewer with a detailed overview of the Donggwan and some insight into the daily life of Waegwan residents in the late Joseon period. One of the most important buildings was the Central City Office (Sidaecheong) where Joseon interpreters, merchants and Japanese residents gathered on the third and eighth days of the month to trade goods. Additional stores such as bars, tatami shops and tofu houses also appear in the painting. In front of the Donggwan, the artist delineates the breakwater in the harbor and various Japanese ships at anchor as well as the imposing face of Yongmi Mountain rising behind the Donggwan to the left of the painting.

Tiger Hunting

This scene describes a tiger hunt on Yongdu Mountain in which Japanese members of the hunting party equipped with swords, axes and spears use instruments and drums to drive two tigers out of the brush. Since tigers are not native to the Japanese archipelago, the prospect of encountering a tiger must have been both frightening and exhilarating for the Japanese visitors. In Korea, tiger encounters were not uncommon and records indicate that there were several tiger related incidents at the Waegwan over the years. This scene speaks to the Japanese visitors’ fascination with Joseon tigers as well as the trade in tiger skin which was a popular purchase for Japanese envoys returning to their homeland.

Quail hunting

Just outside the main gate to Choryang Waegwan there is a wide open area known Choryangwon where both Japanese and Koreans participated in quail hunting. In this scene from the handscroll, the quail hunters are armed with large Y-shaped slingshots, and accompanied by three hunting hounds.

Feast at the Gwansu House (館守家)

During the cherry blossom season, the official representative of Daemado invited the Dongnae Magistrate to a banquet at the Gwansu House*. In this scene from the handscroll, Japanese guests watch on as Korean attendees practice calligraphy under a cherry tree. Additional guests are variously eating and drinking in the Gwansu House or sitting together in conversation. This scene reflects a more personal aspect of the cultural exchange between Korea and Japan in which guests from both countries interact in an informal setting.

* Gwansu House (館守家): 

The residence of the official known as the Gwansu who administers the Waegwan.

Short Cut