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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Self-Cultivation in the Portratis of Joseon Literati Scholars

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2005, v.45 no.2, pp.182-215

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Abstract

Portrait painting during the Joseon dynasty was developed in the context of Confucian social practice and was based on political enlightenment and ritualistic significance. However, because Joseon scholars emphasized introspection (naeseong) and self-cultivation (jonyang) as a preliminary phase of such social practice, their portraits were more than just pictures; many aspects of the portraits were fundamentally significant to the process of self-cultivation. For this reason, the portraits of Joseon scholars were not just externally very minimalist, modest, and strictly formalized, in keeping with Confucianism. Internally, they were also extremely simple, pure, and elegant. The portraits were considered a visual medium for the process of self-reflection. Instead of externally diverse portraits, through the process of self-inscription (jachan), Joseon scholars could include their own detailed thoughts about their portraits in the paintings themselves. This can be confirmed by reading the inscriptions. If the visual “image of figure” in the portraits of Joseon scholars was a representation of the person by the artist, the “image of mind,” which was what the scholars wanted to portray, was represented by their self-inscriptions. Therefore, without understanding these self-inscriptions, it is difficult to understanding the meanings and images of the scholars’ minds and self-reflection that they wanted to portray in these portraits clearly and in detail.

keywords
original and copy image of figure and image of mind script and legend Neo-Confucianism and self-reflection original and copy image of figure and image of mind script and legend Neo-Confucianism and self-reflection

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