PastPainted Memories from the 18th Century Jeju, Tamna sullyeokdo
- TitlePainted Memories from the 18th Century Jeju, Tamna sullyeokdo
- Locationexhibition hall
- Date2020-11-10 ~ 2021-02-14
Opening the Exhibition
Lee Hyeong-sang (1653 ~1733) made an official inspection tour of Jeju during his term in office as the governor (moksa) of the island, and he commissioned the painter Kim Nam-gil to make depictions of key events of the tour in 1703. As Tamna is a former name of Jeju, the resulting work is called the Tamna Sullyeokdo; it is a priceless part of Jeju`s culture heritage and Treasure #652-6. Presented in conjunction with the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province`s World Heritage Office, this special exhibition aims to shine new light on this precious artifact. Not only do we get a good sense of Lee Hyeong-sang`s character through his vivid descriptions of 18th century Jeju, along with details about local customs and the geography of the island in addition to its defence infrastructure, the Tamna Sullyeokdo also provides a fascinating look at the culture of Korea during the late Joseon Dynasty. The exhibition closely examines the wide-ranging value and significance of the contents of the Tamna Sullyeokdo, and offers the visitor an opportunity to view it through digitized images, along with a selection of Lee Hyeong-sang`s writings and personal artifacts, as well as outstanding paintings produced under the orders of other Joseon Dynasty government officials. We invite you to take a fresh look at the Tamna Sullyeokdo as you gaze through the window these artifacts provide into the fascinating historical landscape and culture of Jeju Island.
Memories of an Inspection Tour
From the moment he first reached the top of Halla Mountain and gazed upon the majestic landscape of the island to his final memories of the beautiful scenery before he sailed back to the mainland, the Tamna Sullyeokdo provides a 41-page visual and written record of Lee Hyeong-sang`s year-long stay in Jeju. Most of the document is devoted to showcasing his official inspection tour, depicting the duties he carried out as the highest regional government official, such as inspecting the military supplies and soldiers stationed on the island. Inspection tours were carried out as a matter of course by all provincial governors; they were tasked with visiting each village under their command in order to become familiar with the lives and customs of the local people. During the Joseon Dynasty, Jeju belonged to the greater administrative district of South Jeolla Province, but given Jeju`s special status as an island, the position of Jeju moksa required the office-holder to also act as the local army and naval commander. Lee Hyeong-sang felt that his experiences in Jeju and the memories created during his inspection tour "simply had to be recorded." The Tamna Sullyeokdo is the only such record of a regional governor`s inspection tour.
Creators of the Tamna Sullyeokdo
The Tamna Sullyeokdo contains a wealth of information about early 18th century Jeju, providing details about its geography, administrative system, natural scenery, local customs, soldiers and military infrastructure. In keeping with his stated principle of recording all "facts that must not escape mention," Lee Hyeong-sang maintained a thoroughly objective perspective throughout his writing, carefully avoiding the addition of any personal opinions. This aspect of Lee`s character is also clearly visible in the Gangdoji, a document he authored to present King Suk-jong with an outline of strategic defence plans for the Ganghwa region of the mainland, and the Namhwanbakmul, which he wrote to inform the artist Yun Du-seo about the geography, products and local customs of Jeju. The Tamna Sullyeokdo, however, was not produced by Lee Hyeong-sang alone. Oh Si-bok, an exile to the island with whom Lee Hyeong-sang maintained an intimate friendship, wrote the calligraphy of the preface, and the artist Kim Nam-gil faithfully illustrated the landscapes etched into Lee`s memory.
Paintings of the Appointments and Travels of Governors
Many noteworthy aspects of the lives of the royal family and regular people in the capital and outlying regions of the nation were depicted in paintings during the Joseon Dynasty. Provincial governors played an important role in both consuming and ordering the production of such illustrations. There was a long-standing tradition of memorializing the travels of governors in paintings, such as we see in the Tamna Sullyeokdo. In particular, there are many examples of illustrations of ceremonies held to announce the distinguished honor of being given a royal appointment. Artists were sometimes called upon to accompany governors on their travels to record the events for posterity. From Hamheung in the north to Jeju in the south, it became fashionable around the turn of the 18th century for governors throughout the nation to include alongside the paintings poetry inspired by their visits to historical sites and places of great natural beauty. There are few examples of illustrations of governors carrying out their duties, but one such painting that holds a similar significance to the Tamna Sullyeokdo is the visualization of an act of regional governance in the Buksaeseoneundo, which presents the civil and military service examination held in Hamgyeong Province as an event representing the benevolence of the king.
Landscapes Preserved in Memory
Lee Hyeong-sang had a deep knowledge of music and literature, and he gave frank expression to his feelings about life in Jeju through a large number of poems and works of prose. Although the written sections of the Tamna Sullyeokdo simply comprise unadorned lists of facts about the island, one can find the governor`s poetic soul lying hidden within each scene of the document thanks to the vivid illustrations of Kim Nam-gil. The artist`s creative and uninhibited perspective of Jeju`s scenery catches the eye, with the works resembling watercolors, and the people depicted in the paintings look very much alive. Enlarged digital images of the Tamna Sullyeokdo can inspire the viewer in ways not possible by looking at the smaller originals. We hope you will find inspiration and a new appreciation of the 41 pages of the Tamna Sullyeokdo here, from the painting of Governor Lee`s first memories of the peak of Halla Mountain to the depiction of his departure from Jeju Island.
Days Spent at Hoyeon Pavilion
In May of 1703, Governor Lee Hyeong-sang was suddenly dismissed from office owing to his friendship with Oh Si-bok, who the king had exiled to Jeju before he arrived. He clutched to his chest several books and a Korean traditional instrument called a geomungo as he crossed the sea back to the province of Gyeongbuk, destined for Hoyeon Pavilion in Yeongcheon. These were parting gifts from Oh Si-bok. Although he went on to become the county magistrate (gunsu) of Yeonggwang, Lee Hyeong-sang soon went into retirement, and for 30 years he spent his days at Hoyeon Pavilion focused on his writing. His voluminous life work encompasses 326 books covering 142 different subjects, most of which were written at the pavilion. The great variety of his writing includes works on history and Neo-Confucian etiquette, biographies and treatises on geography, as well as compositions of music and poetry. Lee Hyeong-sang is recognized as a classical scholar and pioneer of the Silhak (`Practical Learning`) movement. After he returned from Jeju, the Tamna Sullyeokdo remained within the confines of Hoyeon Pavilion until it was introduced to the world in 1974. We now have the opportunity to come face to face with this pavilion`s long hidden treasure and make contact with Lee Hyeong-sang`s thoughts and feelings, preserved in ink over 300 years ago.