Individuality in Korean Art
Considering the ancient art of Korea, unfortunately, not much is known. The country of Korea has been constantly shaped and reshaped by existing civilizations, namely, China. Korea's vulnerability geographically, has made Korea constantly throughout history open to many influences- namely China. Despite this overwhelming influx of alien influence from China, Korea's art forms indeed had maintained it's individuality. The Chinese and Korean peoples are very different; ethnically, and culturally. Therefore, even though Korea did attempt to mimic styles from the Chinese, it still maintained it's overall individualistic forms. In my paper I would like to emphasize the marked individuality of Korea. That throughout Korea's art history, Korea was not just another, "Chinese province."
Understanding the Korean people is important in understanding the individual nature of their art throughout time. Ethnically, the Korean people are a mixture of central Asian tribes, settling down, during the Neolithic times, on the peninsula of Korea. These tribes mixed with an already existing people, the jomons, a Caucasoid people. The uniqueness in this mixture can be seen in it's early Neolithic art. like its pottery with combed surfaces; typically found in Siberian areas, and rarely found in China. Koreans during the Neolithic times, have constructed dolmens. "These dolmens offer further confirmation of the north Asian origin of the early Korean peoples, especially since they are encountered frequently in northern Asia but have not been found in China." (3, Moes) It was this originating factor that founded the unique fundamental culture of Korea, "...early tribes from Manchuria, Mongolia and Siberia were the main ancestors of the Korean people and also provided the original and lasting foundation of the Korean culture." So up to about the year 100 BC, Korea was allowed to shape its own identity in its art forms. Shamanism, a religion indigenous to the Korean people, was formed thereby influencing early Korean art, and is to remain influential throughout Korean history up to present history.
Trading with China started at about 100 BC. Up to this time, Korean art remained distinctly different from its massive neighbor. Korean art reflected or was categorized, prior to Chinese influence, as Scytho-Siberian style. A style that is indigenous in the country of Scythia, near the Black and Aral Seas). The artifacts consist of small portable metal artifacts made out of metal, such as weapons, horse fittings, belt buckles, taking on the shape of animals.(3, Moes) Because the early Korean people were nomadic, their art took on the shape of everyday life, like riding on horses, etc. Korean art had changed even more by the pushing Hsuing-Nu tribes, or the Huns, a Turkish speaking tribe, that introduced to the Korean people, Iron and Bronze into their daily needs and warfare, and ultimately, into their art. Then trade started with China and...