22.3.07

Look on my works, ye mighty

Korean temples share similar colour schemes and architecture. It turns out that there are reasons for this that have nothing to do with the influence of a billionaire, corporate, Martha Stewart-esque, Korean magnate, as I had first imagined when I saw the pretty colours. This temple is typical of the Joseon dynasty (c. 1300), a kind of Neo-Confucianist style that favours practicality, frugality, and harmony with nature. Often, the buildings are memorial halls erected by extended families in memory of a distant ancestor or to commemorate some exceptional act of filial piety. The shape of the roof is said to emulate a dragon's spine and is found on all buildings except those which housed emperors, who are said to embody the spirit of a dragon. There is room for only one dragon per household. The little gargoyle-like creatures are mythological guardian spirits. The emperor's buildings have nine (nine being the maximum amount of protection one could hope for in the Joseon age) and lesser buildings have fewer spirits to watch out for them. Basically, there was a lot of the Ozymandian attitude floating around in 14th century Korea.

4 comments:

mark said...

Joseon Dynasty, huh? I knew Mr. Canseco was old but I had no idea his baseball prowess spawned a whole dynasty in the days of yore. What we do know from legend is that Jose’s confused style eventually resulted in occasional morning blindness (noted in that song that starts “Jose can you see by the dawn’s early light?”). You say the memorial halls were erected by extended families but maybe these erections by extended families were in memory of Jose’s edifice complex?

It all makes so much sense now. I’d be willing to wager that the original game of baseball (as invented in the Joseon Dynasty by Emperor Canseco) was played not on a diamond-shape but on a nonehedron. The nine bases representing the nine dragons needed for maximum protection. Back then, “getting to third base” had the innocuous meaning of “ask your buddy to ask her buddy if she likes you, because you like her but only if she likes you first”. Ah, the good old days.

mark said...

Riled. Nonegon, not nonehedron. Captain Superfluous Dimension strikes again.

mark said...

Captain Superfluous Dimension and his sidekick Proofreader Boy should both be shot.
9-sided two dimensional shapes for $200, Alex. "What is a nonegon?" No, sorry. the answer we were looking for was "What is an enneagon?"

Lee and Deanna said...

"Doesn't matter. You had me at Canseco," cackles The Obligatory Jerry Maguire Reference Kid. "Good one, boss," snickers his young ward, Dr. Sycophantio.