The colors of Korea. – What do they mean, how do they blend?

Dancheong  refers to Korean traditional decorative coloring on wooden buildings and artifacts for the purpose of style.

It literally means “cinnabar and blue-green” in Korean. It is based on five basic colors; blue (east), white (west), red (south), black (north), and yellow (center). Dancheong has various symbolic meanings. Dancheong also represented social status and rank by using various patterns and colors. It functions not only as decoration, but also for practical purposes such as to protect building surfaces against temperature and to make the crudeness of materials less conspicuous. Applying dancheong on the surfaces of buildings require trained skills, and artisans called dancheongjang  designed the painted patterns.




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The origin of dancheong can be traced from cave paintings and wall paintings which appeared more than 20,000 years ago  although they may be served for different purposes and functions from the stylized dancheong.

I found the style of art fascinating, its nothing like the colors of the Japanese, near neighbors. Maybe similar to the Chinese style of art, but in essence it is purely Korean and fascinating for a European Artist like me.


Yesterday I found an item I had never seen before, it was called Kingfisher Jewelry. Its actually Chinese, but the colors reminded me so much of the Korean Dancheong.


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