Welcome to the latest in our Destination of the Week series. Today, we’re talking about Korea: a country with a complicated history and a rich cultural tradition.
Korea is bordered by China, Russia, and Japan. And although those cultural influences can be seen in Korean art, this small country has its own unique heritage and artistic styles.
What makes Korean art special?
The earliest examples of Korean art and antiquities come from 3,000 BC. Throughout history, Korean artists have focused on natural materials and styles. Instead of creating highly stylized art, they use painting, wood-carving and ceramics to reflect the beauty of the natural world.
The golden age of Korean antiquities was the Silla period, from the 7th to 10th centuries AD. Buddhism became a popular religion in Korea, and artists started to experiment with new materials like granite, bronze, and iron.
What to look out for
If you are interested in Buddhist art and statuary, then you will find plenty to enjoy in the Silla and Goryeo periods of Korean art. It’s also worth looking out for ceramics from these later periods. Korean Silla pottery is famous for its smooth green lead glaze and elegant floral patterns.
Korean art and painting is also very special. Look for formal landscape paintings, or the minhwa folk style, with its depictions of mythical figures and folk tales. It can be difficult to find authentic pieces from before the 20th century, so make sure you work with reputable antiquities dealers.