Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Museum and Others

Samcheong-dong is a really lovely neighborhood that I kept going back to.

On this day, I went to see a cluster of little museums there. I started with the tiny Buddhist Museum, which was open but unattended and a little spooky.

The door was unlocked and the sign said they were open, but I still felt like I was trespassing. I resisted the urge to make some long distance calls on their phone, and hung out for a little while in their garden.

Next, the Gahoe Museum, which I was excited about because of their collection of Korean Shaman art and folk painting. They are housed in a small hanok, and the staff kindly served me some tea in the collection.

This is a reproduction of a doorway festooned with shamanic amulets for safety and fertility.

This may be the nicest painting in the entire world, and it's depicting a scene that is classic in Korean art--the tiger and the magpie. I love how this tiger is so gentle and sweet to the magpie, despite it's teasing. Considered very good luck.

Finally the Seoul Museum of Chicken Art, which sounds silly, but is dead serious. A better English translation might be the "Rooster Museum".

The reasons for the reverence Korean culture (and the Chicken Museum) has for the mighty chicken are succinctly laid out for visitors by this helpful sign:

Oh! Now I get it.

The curator generously gave me a personal tour of the collection which contained chicken art from Korea and around the world. He was filled with facts about chickens in art, and clearly loved his job. Fun!

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