Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Return of the Oegyujanggak Uigwe
Date Oct 31, 2022
○ Title: Pinnacle of Propriety: The Uigwe, Records of the State Rites of the Joseon Dynasty
○ Date: November 1, 2022 (Tue) – March 19, 2023 (Sun)
○ Location: Special Exhibition Hall, National Museum of Korea
○ Exhibits: 460 items including the 297 volumes of the Oegyujanggak Uigwe
○ Host: National Museum of Korea
The National Museum of Korea (Director-General: YOON Sung Yong) presents the special exhibition “Pinnacle of Propriety: The Uigwe, Records of the State Rites of the Joseon Dynasty,” commemorating the 10th anniversary of the return of the Oegyujanggak Uigwe. This exhibition interpreted the results of the past 10 years of research on the Uigwe in more general terms. The exhibition consists of three parts. The first part, “The Oegyujanggak Uigwe, Books for the King,” highlights the great value of the Uigwe for royal perusal. This part also showcases the essence of the archival culture of the Joseon period, captured from the detailed and accurate records, as well as vivid illustrations in the Uigwe. The second, titled “Rule of Propriety,” features the specific content of the Uigwe and explores Joseon’s ruling philosophy of dignity contained in the rule of propriety that was embodied through rituals. The third, “Harmony within Order,” introduces the ideal society that Joseon aimed for: the society in which every member acted with appropriate propriety, thereby being in harmony with each other. This part also invites the audience to a court banquet held in the gisa year (1809), where that ideal was well implemented.
From Books for the King to the Oegyujanggak Uigwe for Everyone
The Uigwe are a collection of records that document the entire procedures of important state rituals after their completion. Among them, only one copy of each Uigwe, made of the finest materials and bound (janghwang)* with great care by the best painters and artisans of Joseon, was presented for the king’s review. Most volumes of the Oegyujanggak Uigwe were created exclusively for the king. The Oegyujanggak Uigwe, with their high dignity, will celebrate the pride of our Korean culture.
* The term janghwang (粧䌙) refers to binding and decoration techniques for books.
Records with the Finest Details and Vivid Illustrations
In the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty, King Heonjong’s transfer of the royal tomb of his father, King Ikjong (Crown Prince Hyomyeong), in 1846 was recorded in a text of just three lines. On the other hand, the Uigwe documented its detailed procedures in a total of nine books. The illustrations of the royal procession (banchado, 班次圖) and the illustrations detailing the items used for the ceremony (doseol, 圖說), painted in natural colors, remain as vivid as the day they were first completed.
Proper Roles of the Kings and the Subjects
Joseon kings pursued the rule of propriety, in which the kings exercised propriety by practicing proper rituals, and the subjects and people followed the rule willingly from their hearts. Under the rule of propriety, each and every member of society, including the kings and the subjects, acts with propriety appropriate for their role, thereby being in harmony with each other, which was the ideal society Joseon aimed for. In the rites for the investiture of merit subjects (功臣錄勳), the subjects served the throne with loyalty, and the king showed his faith in his loyal subjects by honoring them. The Uigwe included the detailed procedures of the rites in order to convey the meaning of the investiture of merit subjects to future generations.
Other Attractions to See, Feel, and Enjoy
The museum prepared a large bookshelf displaying the entire volumes of the Oegyujanggak Uigwe as a photo zone so that the audience can cherish the impression of the exhibition. The figures of entertainers (yeoryeong)* and the flower arrangement used to decorate court banquets, restored based on the vivid records of the Uigwe, are another must-see of the exhibition. The exhibition also provides the replica of the Uigwe for the Court Banquet and the Offering of Garments Ceremony Held in Honor of Lady Hyegyeong, the audience can actually turn over the pages and feel the dignity of the Uigwe for royal perusal. In addition, the audience can also become royal guests through the 3D video of the court banquet in the gisa year, transformed into digital content to be displayed on a screen of 10 meters wide.
* Yeoryeong (女伶) were the professional entertainers (藝人) who assisted the proceedings of rituals.
Through this exhibition, we hope that the audience will fully appreciate the noble meaning and story contained in the Oegyujanggak Uigwe.
-The return of the Oegyujanggak Uigwe was due to the efforts of the late Dr. Park Byeongseon (1923 - November 23, 2011). In memory of her, the museum offers free admission from November 21 (Mon) to November 27 (Sun), the 11th anniversary of his passing.
- In January 2023, the museum is planning to hold an academic conference and public lecture based on the research results of the past 10 years. In addition, some of the exhibits will be replaced to offer more diverse content.