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artisan: A skilled worker who practices a handcraft: a bookbinder, a locksmith, a glassblower, a stonemason, a potter, etc.

auspicious: Propitious. Bringing good fortune.Traditional Korean art often contains auspicious images that symbolize good fortune.


calligraphy: The art of beautiful writing. In East Asian countries, calligraphy has been practiced as a major form of aesthetic expression since the development of the Chinese written language. Calligraphy can seem like a complicated art form to enjoy if one cannot actually read the Asian language, yet the dynamic visual expression can be riveting. More than reading the words, it is experiencing the dance of lines and forms that creates the beauty of calligraphy.

Confucianism: A system of ethical rules designed to inspire and preserve the good management of family and society. It developed from ancient Chinese traditions of filial relationships and social order, and was codified by Confucius (551–479 BCE), a Chinese philosopher. Confucianism later spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.


Eastern zodiac signs: Chinese astrology uses twelve animals to represent a twelve-year cycle based on the lunar calendar: Snake, Horse, Sheep,Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox,Tiger, Rabbit, and Dragon. Each animal’s differing characteristics are thought to be present in people born during that year.


firing clay: Clay used in making objects can be classified into three distinct groups based on the temperature that is required to fire each to its appropriate temperature. Earthenware is fired at relatively low temperatures of about 1700–2100 degrees Fahrenheit. Stoneware is fired at about 2100–2350 degrees Fahrenheit. Porcelain, the hardest and finest of the three, is fired at temperatures between 2300–2500 degrees Fahrenheit.


glaze: A translucent, glassy coating applied to clay bodies to make them impervious to liquids and to give them a shiny surface after being fired. Glazes can be completely clear or slightly tinted.


hanbok: A Korean traditional costume. A woman's hanbok is made up of a long wraparound skirt and a short jacket. A man's hanbok consists of a short jacket and baggy pants that are bound at the ankles. Koreans of all ages may wear hanbok on traditional holidays or for important events like weddings, birthdays, and funeral ceremonies.


iron oxide: Metallic oxides give color to glazes and slip glazes. Iron oxide turns a rich, opaque brown or green, depending on the kiln environment.


kiln: A type of oven in which clay objects are fired at extremely high temperatures.Today, the most common fuel sources for kilns are electricity, natural gas, and wood. Before the twentieth century, all kilns, including those in Korea, used wood for fuel.


linear perspective: A mathematical system in art that is employed to represent three dimensions (height, width, and depth) on a two-dimensional surface. The first scientific exploration of perspective began in the Italian Renaissance in the early 1400s. Using linear perspective, artists can create a kind of optical illusion in which objects and spaces drawn on a page appear to recede into space.

literati and yangban: Literati are highly educated scholars whose interests consist of poetry, calligraphy, paintings, and literature. During the Chosŏn period (1392–1910) in Korea, the literati belonged to the upper class yangban, a group of educated aristocrats who served as civil officials.


Mahayana Buddhism: One of the major schools of Buddhism widely practiced today in China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet. Mahayana ("Great Vehicle") distinguishes itself from the more conservative Theravada ("Small Vehicle") Buddhism, introducing a new way of perceiving the Buddha, the prominent role of saintlike beings called bodhisattvas, an emphasis on compassion, and a rich and colorful iconography in art.


sijo: The classic form of Korean poetry, more ancient than Japanese haiku. Sijo are traditionally composed of three lines, each of fourteen to sixteen syllables.These poems can be narrative or thematic, introducing a situation or problem in line one, development in line two, and a resolution in line three.


underglaze: Designs are painted onto a clay object using underglaze colors, then allowed to dry. Before firing, the glaze is poured on top. When fired, the colors show through the clear glaze.


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