History of thousand years

INDO-korean artwork

The Korean Cultural Centre presents Hanji Impression, introducing ‘hanji’ to India by Korean and Indian artists Park Yeo-Sang and Sharmi Chowdhury till 5th February 2015.

As a part of exhibition, workshops in Hanji making, Hanji book making, Hanji calendar making will also take place on 23rd, 27th and 28th January (10-11.30am) with School students and interested children.

Even with changing times and the dominance of smart phones and digital culture, nothing can completely replace paper. As a medium of expressing emotions, Hanji undergoes a transformation at the hands of the artists to become a valuable piece of artist. Hailing from Bengal, Sharmi Chowdhary, a painting graduate from Kala Bhavan, Vishva Bharati, Shantiniketan, is a recent postgraduate from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. Talking to Metrolife, Chowdhary said “the main purpose of the exhibition is to introduce Indian contemporary Artists Hanji paper helping them to experience working on Hanji paper and to have more interaction between the two people (India and Korea) and
creating friendship between the two.”

Hanji literally means “the paper of Korea”. The main material is the fibrous skin of the mulberry. Korea’s traditional ‘hanji’ boasts a history of over a thousand years. The world’s oldest book printed with a metallic printing type was printed on hanji. This book was published in the 14th century and has been preserved for over 600 years in its paper form to exhibit the high preservation quality of hanji. The hanji that is produced traditionally and the type that is machine-produced both have a soft and warm quality.

Hanji has the unique feature of being able to transmit the emotive qualities and thus provides attraction to today’s artists. Hanji is not simply paper. It is used in a variety of ways, and has a different name according to its use. If it is glued on a door it is called a window paper. Its copy paper if it is used for a family registry book, Buddhist sutra or old books, while it becomes drawing paper if four gracious plants or birds are drawn upon it.

 The strong vitality of Korean paper is the reason it can be used in a multitude of ways. There is an old saying that paper lasts a thousand years and textiles (such as silk or hemp) last five hundred, reflecting the superior strength of paper over cloth. Koreans even used Korean paper as a suit of armor after varnishing the lacquer.

It is known that the life span of Korean paper is 1,000 years. In the West, products made of paper more than 300-400 years old are rare. But Korea has preserved quite a few books and drawings which are almost 1000 years old. The most typical example is 'the', which is the oldest printed material in the world. The year 'the' was created was 751. The superiority of Korean paper comes from the material with which it is made. The bark of the mulberry is strong and can endure without decomposition when it is immersed in the water for 1 year. It allows both air and light through as the fibers are wide. High-quality Korean paper can be produced with trees that are only 1 year old, while cheaper modern paper must usethe pulp from trees 20-30 years old.

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