The Joseon Envoy 朝鮮通信使
The Joseon tongsinsa, or diplomatic envoy refers to an official delegation dispatched to Japan by the King of Joseon. After the Imjin War, Joseon and Japan resumed diplomatic relations and tongsinsa were regularly organized to conduct state business and participate in cultural exchange. The journey from Hanyang to Edo covered nearly three thousand arduous kilometers and took about half a year. When the travelers finally arrived in the Japanese capital, enthusiastic crowds gathered to see the elaborate procession of the Joseon envoys and their Korean and Japanese attendants. Painting of the Joseon Envoy Procession to Edo Castle allows the viewer to experience the drama and splendor of this type of procession in vivid detail.
Painting of the Joseon Envoy Procession to Edo Castle (通信使行列圖)
Joseon dynasty, 18th century, ink and color on paper, 30.7x595cm, National Museum of Korea ⓒNational Museum of Korea
UNESCO Memory of World
Painting of the Joseon Envoy Procession to Edo Castle represents a birds-eye view of a military company, complete with flags and regalia, approaching Edo Castle from right to left across the composition. Most figures in the procession are arranged in two long rows, however, the important members of the company occupy a third row in the middle. In the central scene of the procession, the main envoy, vice-envoy, and document official trail behind a line of sedan chairs carrying the Royal letter and Royal seal. Including the envoys and the group of interpreters, doctors, and painters at the end of the procession, the painting includes 198 Koreans and 1,220 Japanese for a total of 1,418 figures and 191 horses. This work was estimated to be produced around the late 18th century in a recent study, due to its stylistic features including a stable and rich composition, the depiction of facial features, decorative effects and striking coloring. As such, the painting represents the only extant depiction of an eighteenth-century Joseon embassy to Japan of this type produced by a Joseon painter.
Various scenes of the Envoy Procession
The procession of Joseon Envoys not only includes the three official envoys but also numerous attendants and accompanying materials.
If you are interested, try to identify the following figures and items.