Thursday, September 22, 2011

Earthenware beauty in Gyeongbok Palace

A group of soldiers dressed in traditional uniforms and bearing swords guard an area in the back yard of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul. A high wall arouses curiosity of what lies behind the guarded door.

The gate opens with a sound of drums and Korean traditional earthenware jars standing in lines are seen through the opening.

Pots in the royal palace?

They stand in the "janggo," the paste warehouse which would determine the taste of royal cuisine. The janggo stored a variety of sauces and pastes such as soy sauce, fermented soy paste and red pepper paste. There was a specialist lady of the court serving in the storage area.

The Cultural Heritage Administration opened the site to the public to give them a sneak peek into the daily life in the royal palace. There are two paste storage areas in Gyeongbok Palace according to documents and this warehouse was excavated in 2001 and restored in 2005. It is open to the public for the first time through Oct. 31.

An exhibition featuring potteries used at the palace is also being held. Jeong Yun-seok, an earthenware master and Important Intangible Cultural Heritage no. 96, will demonstrate pottery making at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends.

The warehouse will be open from April to October from next year and various programs related to royal cuisine will be offered as well.

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