Ten-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk
Painting: 98.3 x 307.3 cm (38 11/16 x 121 in.); Overall framed: 210.2 x 325.5 cm (82 3/4 x 128 1/8 in.)
Private Collection 11.2019
Today Pyongyang is better known as the capital of one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, but during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) the city was largely famous for three things: good local government, economic stability, and talented entertainers. By the end of the 1800s, it was nicknamed the “Jerusalem of the East” for its high Christian population.
This ten-panel folding screen details Pyongyang’s well-known historical and natural sites. Some of the notable places include the Shrine of Military Heroes 무열사 (the third and fourth panel from the left) dedicated to the Chinese military generals who fought on behalf of Joseon Korea during the Japanese invasion (1592–97), and a pavilion named Floating Jade 부벽루 (the fourth panel from the right) overlooking the Taedong River in which extravagant boating parties once took place. Flourishing in the 1800s, map-like landscape paintings such as this screen demonstrate that Korean artists were enthusiastic about amusing their audience with spatial illusion by using a bird’s-eye perspective.
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