Thursday, December 02, 2010

Korean Funerary Figures


A collection of small Korean funerary figures, or Kkoktu, were on display at the UCLA's magical Fowler museum, where I went to meet them. Here is how the catalog describes them: Koreans have a tradition of creating charming and festively painted wooden dolls. But rather than being placed in a toy box, these joyful figurines of clowns, tigers and acrobats adorn coffins. Their costumes and poses reflect the realities of rural Korean village life. Though the kkoktus’ gaiety seems incongruous with mourning, they express a culture’s deep desire that the dead enter the next world surrounded by joy — and its appreciation of the fleeting nature of all experience.

Korea is very present here in Los Angeles, and though I must admit I am no fan of kimchi, I want to absorb more of this culture - for instance with a visit to the local Korean spas, famous for their Akasuri scrubs and exotic baths.
Suggestions, anyone?

13 comments:

Laura in Paris said...

Oh, how I enjoyed this visit! THank you.

Vanessa said...

Thanks for this post, I had no idea about these figures which are truly remarkable. I love you way you explore so many different cultures. Have a great weekend!

Alessandra said...

I heard about the scrub from Japanese friends who went to Korea for week-ends just for a spa treatment.
They told me that they are great and take of lots of dead skin!

The figurines are very sweet!

Ciao
Alessandra

Mary-Laure said...

VANESSA - yes, LA is really a place where different cultures can be explored, especially South American and Asia. It's great!

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

Very interesting I have not heard of these and am excited to learn about them! Have a great weekend!

Mary-Laure said...

VANESSA - well, I hadn't heard about them either before this show. I think Korean art is not "publicized" much but it has so much to offer!

Gabbi said...

Such an interesting post Mary-Laure! I love the idea of death being viewed with joy and optimism. Never been to a Korean spa but will ask around...

Wishing you a wonderful new week! ♥

raining sheep said...

I have seen such figures during a Korean display at a community center here. They are interesting to see - each so different. I have to say I am not a fan of kimchee either, however, the barbecue, yum.

simon said...

one of the best displays of Korean and Japanese art was in the Museum in London. The had a full range of pottery, dolls, armour etc. even tea pots!

Mary-Laure said...

GABBI - I was hoping a savvy Angelina like you would be able to give me some good tips about Korean spas... Let me know if you hear of anything you'd recommend.

SIMON - ah yes, museums in London are the best!

Robin said...

These are simply haunting....
I agree with you...we see so little of Korean Art...yet it is quite beautiful. I love the idea of combining joy with death....

Hugs to you and Benjy!

♥ Robin ♥

donna baker said...

Mary-Laure, You are so current. I've read that Seoul is becoming quite to place; with its new Zaha Hadid building and more. I just wish it wasn't so close to North Korea. I don't think we know enough about its rich history in the culture and arts.

Stéphane Malingue said...

Très belle statuette et très chargée !