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Calligraphy of Six Poems on Flowers
Calligraphy of Six Poems on Flowers, 1989
Calligraphy by Lee Mi-Kyung (pen name Flower Garden), Korean
Ink on paper; mounted as a six-fold screen
45 x 39 inches (114.3 x 99.1 cm) Mount: 45 inches x 9 feet 6 inches (114.3 x 289.6 cm)
Gift of the artist, 2003
2003-30-1
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About This Screen

This six-panel screen created by Lee Mi-Kyung contains precise and beautiful calligraphy. The art of calligraphy—writing the Chinese language using black ink and brushes on paper—was part of a traditional Korean scholar's training. Even after Korea's own alphabetic writing system, Han'gul, was invented in 1446, many Korean calligraphers continued to use Chinese characters. The characters on this screen are written in Han’gul. Lee Mi-Kyung has written out a twentieth-century poem in the classical sijo style. It reads from right to left and top to bottom. Its verse translates as:

You are so pure as to be almost ethereal.
You are purer and more ethereal than a lucid sheet of ice.
Your purity and simplicity mirror the soul of our nation.
Your sweet fragrance and elegant beauty
Are gifts of the angel of Spring upon her beloved maid.
Magnolia, anonymous

 

 

 

 

Notice how this Han’gul writing is done so differently from Son Man Jin's He Who Tries to Travel Two Roads. Whether writing in Chinese or in Han'gul, Korean calligraphers use language to convey emotion and passion in their art. Han'gul is so easy to learn that today virtually everyone in Korea can read it. The 28 original letters composing the alphabet invented by King Sejong have been standardized and reduced to 24 letters.

Han’gul consonants

Han’gul vowels

This object is included in Learning from Asian Art: Korea, a teaching kit developed by the Division of Education and made possible by a grant from the Freeman Foundation of New York and Stowe, Vermont.

 

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