Korean Hanji Paper Doors

Korean Hanji Paper Doors

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Hanji is a form of traditional Korean paper that uses the bark of the mulberry tree as its base ingredient. After paper was first imported from China, ancient Koreans developed their own unique method of making hanji, which has strong and durable fibers that are also very soft to the touch. Two important historic Korean documents were printed on hanji: the Mujujeonggwang Daedaranigyeong (Great Dharani Sutra of Immaculate and Pure Light, circa 704 A.D.), which was discovered inside Seokgatap at Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju and is acknowledged as the first printed document in the world and the Daebanggwang Bulhwaeomgyeong, which was produced in 755 A.D. (the 14th year of King Gyeongdeok). The Daebanggwang Bulhwaeomgyeong is a particularly valuable historical resource in that it provides clues to the paper-making technology of the day and includes the names of the production site and the paper maker. Having made possible the first-ever woodblock printing culture in the world and possessing outstanding preservation qualities—lasting over 1,000 years—hanji is indeed an invaluable cultural heritage. Hanji's endurance is even more remarkable when we compare it to modern CDs or microfilm, which must be changed every 10 to 20 years.

<The Mujujeonggwang Daedaranigyeong has remained almost perfectly intact for over a millennium.>

Celebrating Korea's Traditional Hanji Paper Dolls

If you take Seoul's J Line to the very end, you will arrive at Yongmun Station, where an increasing number of internationals are heading out on weekends. There is a white Jeep that will ferry you from the bustling subway station to Daol Art Center, a small museum nestled in a deep mountain valley surrounded by Korean pines. But the greatest treasure to be found at Daol Art Center is the workshop run by Seonmi Kim, a Korean-certified master craftswoman. Expats from across Korea make trips into the mountains to learn directly from Mrs. Kim how to make her legendary hanji paper dolls.

Hanji paper is made from the inner bark of the mulberry tree that grows in the mountains of Korea. It is uniquely textured and durable. The hanji paper dolls are extremely popular among those with an aesthetic appreciation of fine craftsmanship, and are increasingly recognized for their quality in the international community. These highly energetic sculptures (traditionally called dak jongi) are formed from wire and hanji paper. Most Westerners know hanji textured parchment from calligraphy, but it is also commonly used to make traditional dolls, boxes, and screen windows. Using the proper manufacturing technique, hanji paper can last 1,000 years. Western paper, in contrast, does not preserve well after 300 years. It can take as much as three to four months to complete a single hanji paper doll, and individual pieces often become part of a large set portraying the life of Goryeo Dynasty commoners, or folk dances from the Joseon Era.

This arduous manufacturing process is one reason that hanji dolls have never been produced on the same scale as Japanese kokeshi or Russian matryoshka. In 2016, they have even reached an "endangered status" within Korean cultural memory.

As factory-made, Chinese imitations flooded into souvenir shops near Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul, the authentic dolls grew harder to find. Even the neighborhood Daiso, a dollar store chain, prominently displays plastic interpretations of the figures in their storefront windows--but none of them are domestically produced.

In the larger mansions of Korean art history, hanji paper dolls are often overlooked. Although they first appeared about fifty years ago, they were not even mentioned in Seoul Selection's Korea Essentials installment on handicrafts, which is a commonly-distributed series written to "furnish an international reader with insight and basic understanding of the arts and culture in Korea."

"We aim to counter this by selling traditional doll-making kits that are easy for laypeople to assemble," Mrs. Kim explained. "Each kit incorporates a plaster base, paper clothes, and glue." Although the directions are incredibly simple, the demand for craftsmanship is immediately apparent. Without concentration and precision, it is easy to misalign edges or oversaturate the paper with glue. Like chess, it's something that's easy to learn, but notoriously difficult to master.

A samplling of the thousands of dolls Mrs. Kim has created using her patented and simplified method.

This is one reason why the Daol Art Center's simplified kit has sold well, having now introduced doll culture to young people around the peninsula. Mrs. Kim attributes this to the hectic pace of modern Korean life. "The balli balli ("hurry, hurry") culture isn't very conducive to hanji paper craft," she remarked. "The wire-frame dak jongi weren't suited to our fast-paced lifestyle. But the Daol Art Center kits make the art more accessible, and they protect the tradition from dying out. It also counters some of the old Korean superstitions about dolls!"

Mrs. Kim explained the superstition while working at a circular table at the center of her workshop: "Centuries ago, Koreans thought that the dolls carried bad magic. There was a traditional straw variety, in particular. people believed that those could be used as Voodoo dolls to curse enemies. So we have to counter that lingering stigma. We chose the name 'Daol' for our company because it means good luck. If you look closely, you'll notice all of our characters have chubby faces. That's because, in East Asia, a plump body is historically associated with wealth, prosperity, and good fortune. The Center helps to maintain this tradition as part of our 5,000 year old history. Education is our main objective."

While Daol Art Center is a private organization, it is not necessarily a profit-driven venture. Its contributions to the community have been repeatedly recognized by the Korean Ministry of Culture. In 2013, it even took first place at the Annual Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation's Exhibition, which brought together artisans from around South Korea compete for booth space in Incheon International Airport's Traditional Culture Center.

Mrs. Seonmi Kim works on a highly-detailed dolls for an upcoming event.

As a prize for their victory, Daol Art Center had the chance to sell over 5,000 doll-making kits to visitors to craft at Incheon Airport. The proceeds generated about 25 million won, which has helped the museum stay afloat financially. Ever since they closed down their Gallery at Lotte World, where foreign visitors could make a doll for 25,000 won a piece, they have been in search of a new market. They established the Yangpyeong gallery in October of 2015, and hope it will continue to attract tourists.

"My hope for the future is that we can ship hanji doll-making kits overseas," Mrs. Kim noted. "It's critically important that Korea's handicraft arts are passed down to future generations, because we want Korea's arts culture - and especially its doll culture - to be cherished, just as other countries' are."


Frame Edit

Coniferous wood is preferred for its fine, straight grain. [20] Shōji with kōshi made of split bamboo are called take-shōji ( 竹障子 ). [6] [21] Kōshi are sometimes made of aluminium, shaped to resemble wood. [15]

Most shōji lattices are rectangular. [4] However, about 200 traditional patterns are used each has a symbolism, associated with the natural pattern it stylistically represents. [20] [22] Patterns may also be combined. [23] While these are traditionally used for shoji, they are increasingly used for other woodwork items, in and outside Japan. [20] [24] Patterns can be classified according to jigumi, the foundational grid this may be square, [25] diamond-shaped, [26] or hexagonal. [27] [28] Rectangular shoji may skew, in which case bent springs of bamboo are inserted into the short diagonal to push them back square. [30] There can be substantial artistry in frame design. [4]

The kumiko are the fine wooden laths of the screen, and the tsukeko are the heavier members (usually around the edge). The tsukeko are joined with mortise-and-tenon joints, with either a jaguchi joint or a more complex mitered joint. [31] The jigumi kumiko are generally joined with simple halved joints, [32] but where jigumi kumiko cross at a non-right-angle, or three cross at the same point (mitsu-kude, [33] ) the angles can become complicated, [27] [34] and specialized tools are used to cut them rapidly. [35] Small kumiko may simply be friction-fitted and glued. [32]

While frames can be produced with minimal hand tools, specialized hand tools, power tools, and jigs for cutting identical lengths and angles speed the process. [23] [36] [37] [38] These tools are often homemade as shoji-making is highly competitive, these give kumiko shokunin a critical competitive advantage. [39] [40] While frames are handcrafted, there is also industrial mass-production. [4]

Some simple kumiko types include:

  • mabarasan shoji ( 疎桟障子 ) [6] or aragumi shoji have large squarish openings, and are quick to assemble. This is the standard pattern used in most shoji. [41]
  • yokoshigesan shoji ( 横繁桟障子 ) [6] or yokoshige shoji have rectangles that are longer in the horizontal direction they are more common in the east of Japan. [41]
  • tatehonshigesan shoji ( 竪本繁桟障子 ) [6] or tateshige shoji have rectangles that are longer in the vertical direction they are more common in the west of Japan. [41]

Koshi (dado) Edit

The lowest portions of the shōji, which are the most likely to get wet [42] or kicked, [41] might be filled with a solid wood-panel dado, called a koshi ( 腰 , こし literally, waist or hip not to be confused with kōshi, above). [43] Such a shoji is called a koshizuke shoji. [41]

If the panel is over 60 cm high, or around a third of the height of the whole shōji, the shōji may be called a koshi-daka-shōji ( 腰高障子 , こし だか しょうじ literally, high-koshi shōji). [15] [44] These are somewhat archaic, as they were designed to protect against rain. Now that shoji are rarely exposed to rain (due to being behind glass), the form in common use has a much lower panel, and is called koshi-tsuki-shōji ( 腰付障子 , こし つき しょうじ ). [6] Manaka koshishōji ( 間中腰障子 ) have a central koshi. [6]

The wood panels were often quite elaborately ornamented, from the late 1500s onwards. [44] The outside of the koshi may covered with wickerwork, or the outside papered. [44] Pictures on paper were sometimes pasted onto the koshi board (haritsuke-e, 貼付絵 ) pasted-on pictures are characteristic of the Shoin style. [45]

The koshi boards may be fastened to straight vertical or horizontal rails, which stand proud of the planks older rails are thicker and often chamfered. The rails are often grouped in clusters this clustering is called fukiyose ( 吹寄 ). [44]

Filling Edit

Open and semi-open Edit

A ranma fanlight, unfilled for air circulation. Note fukiyose, clustered spacing of the laths. [46]

A kōshi door in a historic house, unfilled

A kōshi door on a soba shop, filled with glass left, simple kōshi window

These sliding kōshi have been inconspicuously glazed, and are less sheltered than usual

Reed shoji koshi with cut-out bats, top section unfilled

Sudare-shōji beyond, a sudare byōbu and kami (paper-filled) shoji

The spaces between the kumiko are sometimes left open, and the kōshi panel used as an open lattice, [47] especially in summer, for more air circulation. [4] Kōshi may be made into windows (kōshi-mado: 格子窓 , こうしまど , "kōshi-window") or doors (kōshi-do: 格子戸 , こうしど "kōshi-door"). Kōshi that are traditionally left open are now often filled with glass this does not require much change to their appearance or structure, and glazed kōshi are still considered kōshi. [15] Some lattice patterns have heraldic meanings, identifying the trade of a shopowner, for instance. [47]

Frames may also be backed with wire mesh, for ventilation without insects. [43] Sudare-shōji ( 簾障子 , すだれ-しょうじ also called su-do, 簾戸 , すど ) are filled with Phragmites reed, cat-tail stalks, pampas grass, or fine bamboo, held together by a few rows of thread woven around the stems. [48] [49] These provide more shade and ventilation than paper-backed shoji, and are also called natsu-shōji ( 夏障子 : "summer shoji"), [48] [49] as they may be used seasonally. For instance, in Kyoto, both paper shoji and fusuma will be removed and replaced with su-do and sudare (blinds) this is usually done towards the end of June, before the rainy season ends and the Gion Festival begins. [50]

Cloth and paper Edit

Shoji are most commonly filled with a single sheet of paper, pasted across the back of the frame (on the outer side). Shoji may also be papered on both sides, which increases thermal insulation and sound absorption the frame is still visible in silhouette. [51]

  • futsū shoji ( 普通障子 ) have a frame on one side, paper on the other [6] (common)
  • mizugoshi shoji ( 水腰障子 ) have a frame sandwiched between two papers [6] Also called taiko shoji. [41]
  • ryōmen shoji ( 両面障子 ) have paper sandwiched between two frames [6]

Shoji are not made with rice paper, though this is commonly asserted outside of Japan, [5] possibly simply because "rice paper" sounds oriental. [7]

Cloth, usually a fine silk, has traditionally been used, but usage declined with improvements in the quality of washi (a specialized paper which diffuses light particularly well, and excludes wind). [6] Washi is traditionally made from kōzo (mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera), mitsumata (Edgeworthia papyrifera) or gampi (Wikstroemia canescens), or hemp fibers [53] [7] and it is sold in a broad range of types. Washi was formerly made in narrower strips, which were overlapped by a few millimeters as they were glued on it now comes in wider widths, and in rolls or lengths the height of a short Japanese door. Bright white paper is most popular in Japan off-whites are also available, but darker colours are avoided, as they would not transmit light. Washi began to be mass-produced in the 1800s, making it much more affordable. [7] Synthetic fibers were first used in washi paper in the 1960s (mid Shōwa period). [4] [7] A small proportion of synthetic fibers may be used to increase tear strength. [54] The optical characteristics of washi, such as its reflectance and scatter, are selected by the maker. [5]

Paper is decoratively patched if torn, [5] [4] [18] and, traditionally, replaced once a year in late December (sometimes less frequently, such as every two years [18] ). The rice glue used to hold it to the kumiko is water-soluble [55] [17] (wheatpaste is also sometimes used [18] and double-sided tape may also be used, especially for laminated paper [56] ).

Laminated papers, coated in vinyl, last longer and are sufficiently waterproof to be wiped clean, but the thicker the plastic film, the harder it is to install. [57] [58] After glue is dry (

6 hours [9] ), non-laminated paper can be sprayed with water to tauten it (removing small wrinkles), but laminated paper cannot. [17] Shoji paper cannot be used in places where it will get wet, like a bathroom even laminated paper will be affected, as water bleeds in from the edges. [59]

Traditionally, abura-shōji ( 油障子 : "oil-shoji"), also called ama-shōji ( 雨障子 : "rain-shoji") used paper (generally nishi-no-uchigami, 西の内紙 ), glued it on with vinegar-based paste, then oiled it. This made them water-resistant, so they were used where rain might reach under the eaves. [42] Oiled-paper windows were common in Europe, as European-style shallow eaves exposed the windows to precipitation. In Japan, deep eaves were conventional, and oiled-paper windows were rare. [15]

The smooth sheet of paper covering the back of a shoji can make it difficult to grip and slide the shoji from the outside. To solve this, a single square in the frame may be papered only on the opposite side, [29] and/or a groove may be cut in the outside of the frame (see image). This doorpull is called a hikite. [29]

While washi paper blocks wind, it does allow air to diffuse through, allowing air circulation. [5] [9] This is particularly important in traditional buildings, in which charcoal is burned, [5] and damp evaporates from the ground in the crawlspace under the raised wooden floor. [60] Ranma (transom/fanlight panels above the sliding panels and kamoi) may have openings to further encourage breezes to pass through the building. [10]

Plastic sheets and synthetic fibers Edit

Less traditionally, rigid light-diffusing panels of plastics are also used, [61] such as approximately 2mm-thick [62] acrylic [63] [64] or polycarbonate [65] which can be frosted or bonded to a printed film. [63] Fiberglass-reinforced acrylic is also used. [66] Rigid translucent panels cannot readily be spliced one continuous sheet must usually be used per frame. [59] Plastic panels are waterproof, and some may be used outdoors year-round. [67]

Paperlike sheets of plastic nonwoven fabrics may also be used, including polypropylene (like that used in surgical masks and other disposable clothing). [68] A peel-and-stick film made of epoxy and white non-woven fiberglass is also used. [73] Nonwoven sheets of composite plastic (vinyl-coated polyester) fibers are also used, [74] and may be attached with removable fasteners rather than glue, although they are still single-use. [51]

Glass Edit

Yukimi shoji (snow-watching shoji) have glass panes. They allow a view of the outside in cold weather. These are jika glass shoji. [41]

Yukimi shojis' translucent sections often slide, like sash windows, for privacy (left, open right, closed center, partly open). This is called a suriage- or agesage-shōji ( 摺上 , 上下障子 ). [75] [41]

Another style of yukimi shoji, yokogaku shoji: full-width glass, surrounded by lightweight panes. [41]

Another style of yukimi shoji, katagaku shoji: one central glass pane, surrounded by regular lightweight material. [41]

Paper-coated nekoma shoji (with sliding sub-panel for view) inside the engawa, and all-glass garasu-do outside.

Nekoma shoji ( 猫間障子 , also called mago shoji, 孫障子 ) have a horizontally-sliding translucent sub-panel (or two, for Osaka nekoma shoji), which can be opened from inside to give a view outwards. Until the late 1800s, these small panels were the only use of glass in shoji [76] [77] blown plate glass was expensive and available in small panes.

Cheaper plate glass was introduced to Japan circa the late 1800s. It was widely applied to traditional kōshi doors, without much change to the traditional form and structure. [15] The oiled paper in ama-shōji was also replaced with glass. [42] [15]

Yukimi shoji ( 雪見障子 , snow-watching shoji) have a larger full-width section of glass, at seated-eye level, affording a view of the outside in cold weather. Glass can be used in large sheets or in small panes (the kumiko becoming muntins). Yukimi shoji also contain non-transparent translucent sections, for privacy. In suriage shoji, there is a vertically-sliding translucent section the translucent sections are divided horizontally like a sash windows. [41] When closed, these then look much like standard shoji (see images). Peel-and-stick films that give glass some of the appearance of washi are also sold. [67]

Sukimi shoji ( 月見障子 , moon-watching shoji) [6] are similar they have upper panels that give a view, while the lower ones are translucent. [78] [ better source needed ]

Fitting Edit

Shoji as usually mounted with two sliding panels in an opening. If the full opening is wanted, panels are removed. 2×2.5 ken house.

Four-panel opening at Sankeien, open. The innermost doors and outermost doors overlap fully note that in the single-layer ranma above, the light is brighter, and the silhouette of the visitor stooping for her bag sharper.

Top: katabiki shoji, on interior rails, slides in front of the wall. Lower right: a katabiki shoji which cannot slide fully open.

Kake-shōji hang from hooks they are used for small windows in opaque walls.

Center, kake-shōji. Right, opaque ajiro ( 網代 : "wickerwork") on a cupboard door. [6]

Shoji doors are often designed to slide open, (and thus conserve space that would be required by a swinging door [1] ) they may also be hung or fixed. [6]

Most commonly, a shoji panel slides in a grooved wooden track. The upper groove is substantially deeper than the lower groove. [7] [8] [79] The lower groove is cut in the shikii, or threshold beam ("the shikii is high" means "it is difficult to visit the place", or expresses self-consciousness). The upper groove is cut in the kamoi, a lintel between adjacent posts. [10] The traditional wooden track requires precise fitting, [5] and the wood may wear with use, or warp due to changes in humidity. [41] A well-made traditional groove system is light enough that the door can be slid with one finger. [7] [4] [9] Traditionally, grooves were waxed more modernly, grooves may be lined with low-friction plastic. [9]

Shoji are often mounted in pairs, with two panels and two grooves in each opening. [8] When closed, adjacent sliding shoji overlap by the width of the wooden frame edge. [8] Shoji are also mounted four panels to the opening. In this case, the innermost pair are generally mounted on the same track, and the outermost pair on a different track [8] A rounded tongue and groove are cut so that the innermost pair interlock. [80] The double parallel grooves allow the shoji to be slid so that they occupy nearly half of their closed width [8] if a larger opening is needed, the shoji must be removed. [5] As the panels are usually slightly different, it is important to put them back in the same order, without swapping them around, so that they will continue to slide easily. [5] This type of mounting, where the panels overlap by a stile-width when closed, is called hiki-chigai ( 引違 ). [81] Hiki-chigai came to be used in minka (commoners' homes) in the mid-Edo Period (c. 1700s). [82]

Katabiki shoji ( 片引障子 ) are single panels sliding in a single groove. They slide on rails mounted on a solid wall, and when open partly or fully overlap the wall. They are used for smaller windows in opaque walls this is common in chashitsu (see image). [83] [84] Small windows and katabiki mounting were used in minka until the mid-Edo period, but were then replaced by larger openings with sliding panels. [82] Full-height shoji set up so that they can be slid in front of an opaque wall are not common in modern Japan. [8] Washi-on-frame panels can also be used to diffuse an artificial light source in Japanese lampshades, this use is both common and traditional in Japan. [5] [85]

Less traditionally, hiki ( 引 ) shoji (sliding panels) can be hung on rollers, which run on metal rails mounted on the side of the kamoi. This avoids fit problems caused by humidity-related changes in the dimensions of wood. [41] Such rail-mount shoji require an anti-sway pin, but may otherwise have a smooth, unobstructed threshold. [86] Such shoji are also fairly easy to remove. [79]

Shoji may also be installed as pocket doors between rooms, called hikikomi ( 引込 ) shoji. [83] This is a historical practice, but it is no longer common in Japan, though it is sometimes used in western-style homes. [8]

Other suspension methods are sometimes used. [87] Kake-shōji (hanging shoji) are mostly used in traditionally rustic chashitsu (tea rooms). They are commonly hung over small windows in opaque walls of mud plaster they hang from bent-nail hooks, one on either side of the top of the window, and the topmost frame member is extended into two horizontal projections that rest in the hooks (see photo above). [41] [88] Like katabiki shoji, [83] kake shoji may be placed on the inside or the outside of the wall, depending on what suits the window. [29]

Hiraki shoji are mounted on hinges in a doorframe, and open like a standard western door. Some are single doors, some double doors. [89] Double doors, whether bifold doors or not, are termed ryōbiraki shoji ( 両開障子 ). [90]

Tsukuritsuke shoji ( 造付障子 , "fixed shoji"), are often horizontal strips. [6]

Hashira-ma equipment Edit

Traditional Japanese buildings are post-and-lintel structures. They are built around vertical posts, connected by horizontal beams (rafters were traditionally the only structural member that was neither horizontal nor vertical). The rest of the structure is non-load-bearing. [91]

The roof completed, all but the cheapest buildings also added a raised plank floor (except in the kitchen). [92] The remaining question was what to do with the space between the pillars, the hashira-ma ( 柱間 , はしらま ). [93]

The hashira-ma might be filled with fixed walls, in cheaper Japanese homes. For example, there might be lath-and-plaster walls, or in colder areas thatch walls these are still used in rustic teahouses and historic buildings (see images). Bark-and-bamboo walls, clapboard, and board-and-batten walls were also used. [91] Where affordable, though, the tendency was against permanent walls. Instead, openable or removable screens were used, and their type, number, and position adjusted according to the weather without and the activities within. These items can collectively be termed hashira-ma equipment. [93]

The technology of hashira-ma equipment has developed over time, and shoji were among those developments. Shoji have imposed constraints on other types of hashira-ma equipment: being translucent, non-waterproof, light, and fragile, they need protection, but they also need access to light.

History Edit

Literally, "shōji" means "small obstructing thing" ( 障子 it might be translated as "screen"), and though this use is now obsolete, [4] "shōji" was originally used for a variety of sight-obstructing panels, screens, or curtains, [4] many portable, [94] either free-standing or hung from lintels, [95] used to divide the interior space of buildings (see List of partitions of traditional Japanese architecture). While "shōji" now exclusively means a translucent framework screen, and "fusuma" an opaque one, [4] historic terminology is less clear-cut.

Cloth-covered frame panels that fit between pillars (but did not yet slide in grooves) were invented in the 600s. They were used to screen bedrooms (like the curtains on a canopy bed), and called fusuma shoji [96] (there were also bedclothes called "fusuma" [97] ). When paper came to be used instead of cloth, fusuma shoji were also called karakami shoji. [96] From the late 1100s to the early 1200s, translucent cloth and paper shoji were called akari-shōji ( 明障子 ), "illuminating shoji". [6] It is not clear when translucent shoji were first used. [48]

The symmetrical round-pillared shinden style developed in the mid-900s, for the lakeside palaces of aristocrats. The outside could be closed off with heavy wooden shutters called shitomi-do ( 蔀戸 ), [95] which were usually horizontally split and hinged (hajitomi), but were occasionally vertically split and hinged. [98]

Sliding partitions (hiki-do, 引戸 , literally "sliding door") did not come into use until the tail end of the Heian, and the beginning of the Kamakura period. [99] Early sliding doors were heavy some were made of solid wood. [100] Initially used in expensive mansions, they eventually came to be used in more ordinary houses as well. [99]

Hajitomi are split, and hinged, horizontally. Here the bottom halves have been lifted out. There are shoji behind the hajitomi.

On the right, three grooves, three panels. The maira-do are open, and the single shoji panel closed half of the area is still filled with the maira-do. The building to the left is newer its outer groove runs outside the pillars. The shutters are packed away in the to-bukuros in the corners, and the shoji in the inner two grooves run uninterrupted (close-up).

Plan view of the mairado and amado shutter systems, showing rotator and to-bukuro. Black squares are pillars. Shoji in white, shutters in black, grooves in grey. See also external movie.

Section through Sukiya-style middle-class home of the early 1880s

Smooth fitting of panel and groove is critical to allow the panels to move easily, [5] and the woodworking of the sliding mechanism developed over time [6] (modern shoji can be moved with one finger). [5] Formerly, the grooves were made by dobumizo ( どぶ溝 ), nailing strips of wood to the kamoi (lintel) and shikii (sill) beams. [6] The grooves were later cut into the beams, using a specialized saw to cut the sides, a chisel to remove the waste, and specialized groove planes to smooth. [101] [102] A shakuri kanna (plow plane) was used to smooth the bottom of the groove, and a wakitori kanna for the sides of the groove [103] (these planes also became more elaborate, later adding screw adjustments and other machined-metal refinements). [102] Before hiki-chigai (sliding panels that overlap when closed) became standard in the Muromachi period, hiki-do had a central vertical rail (nakahōdate, 中方立 ) in the middle of each opening to cover the gap between the panels when they were closed. [6]

In the Muromachi period, hiki-do improved, and the Shoin style of architecture was developed. [94] The rising warrior class seeking to emulate the aristocratic fashions, and the aristocrats, who had lost wealth, could no longer afford Shiden-style palaces. [11] Conrad Totman argues that deforestation was a factor in the style changes, including the change from panelled wooden sliding doors to the lightweight covered-frame shoji and fusuma. [100]

A core part of the style was the shoin ("library" or "study"), a room with a desk built into an alcove containing a shoji window, in a monastic style [94] [104] this desk alcove developed in the Kamakura period. [105] The Shoin style also made extensive use of sliding doors. [94] In order to fit better against closed hiki-do, support pillars were squared these were called kaku-bashira ( 角柱 ). [94] Suspended ceilings were added, and tatami were used wall-to-wall, entirely covering the floorboards. Tatami dimensions were regionally standardized, and the other elements of the room became proportioned to the mats [94] standardization of building components reduced waste and the need for custom fabrication, and thus cost (standard lumber, for instance, came in exactly the dimensions needed by the carpenter). [29] [91] Lower-class buildings adopted some of the cheaper elements of the Shoin style, where the law permitted it (class-based limitations were not lifted until the Meiji Era, in the late 1800s). [104] Minka (commoner's houses) rarely used sliding mountings at this time, and generally had only small windows. [82]

A variety of specialized hiki-do were developed (along with intermediate forms). Apart from shoji, there were fusuma, similar but with opaque paper, and maira-do, plank-and-batten wooden doors ( 舞良戸 ). [106] Maira-do replaced shitomi-do as rain-protection doors. Initially, the beams between the outer support posts were cut with three grooves the innermost one for the shoji, and the outer two for mairado-do. This meant that the hashira-ma was generally at least half-obscured, although the other half could be open, shoji-filled, or closed. [93] [107]

In the first half of the 1600s, at the beginning of the Edo period, the outermost groove was moved outside the line of pillars. The wooden shutters placed in this groove interlocked edge-to-edge, and were called ama-do ( 雨戸 , "rain-door"): they were storm shutters, used only at night and in poor weather. [93] [108] To open the building in the morning, each ama-do would be slid along (rotating at corners) to the end of groove, where they were stacked in a box [93] called a to-bukuro [109] ( 戸袋 , とぶくろ : literally, "door-container"). The to-bukuro might be designed to swing out of the way. [110] [111] The inner two grooves remained as they were, but both could now be filled with shoji, doubling the number of shoji in a building. Lightweight shoji could be lifted out and carried away easily. This new structure allowed the entire side of the building to be opened, giving either twice as much light, from an uninterrupted wall of shoji, or an unobstructed view of the garden gardens changed accordingly. [93] [107]

By the mid-1600s, single-track ama-do had spread, and the ama-do might be placed on the outside of the engawa. [93] [111] The combination of architectural changes marked the end of the shoin style, and the beginning of the sukiya style. [107]

Shoji in a museum replica of a 1×2.5 ken Edo nagaya ( 長屋 , row house). Kitchen to left, second door on right munewari nagaya had only a kitchen door.

Koreans are obsessed with seaweed. They don’t only consume it in soups, but also munch on it in a dried form as a snack. In fact, dried seaweed contains a lot of helpful antioxidants to boost health. In Korea, you also have the choice between a wide range of different flavored seaweed snack, from olive oil and onion to wasabi and spicy chipotle.

Hanji is the traditional art of papermaking in Korea. There are still a few traditional masters passionately producing hanji in South Korea. This Korean paper is used in a variety of different ways. You can find lamps, fans, calligraphy rolls, cards, umbrellas and even clothes made of hanji. Over hundreds of years, hanji was also used for windows, walls, and doors in traditional Korean houses. Another popular hanji gift idea is small storage boxes made of hundreds of thin layers of Korean paper. The best place to purchase hanji items in Seoul is Gyeongil Hanji Department Store or make your own at Hanji Chueok craftshop.

Traditional Korean drink, Soju should be high up on your souvenir list. Traditionally made from rice, wheat, or barley, it is usually consumed neat. In recent years, soju producers have come out with a variety of flavored options, such as grape, grapefruit, citrus and peach. Koreans follow a strict drinking etiquette that includes holding the glass with both hands when receiving a glass from an elder as well as bowing the head.

Home > Culture > Arts & Design

Hanji Culture and Industry Center opened its doors inBukchon, central Seoul. Operated by the Korea Craft & Design Foundation,the center aims to function as a cultural platform so that traditional Koreanpaper can increase its presence overseas. [KCDF]

With over 1,000 years of history, Korea's traditional paper, hanji, is still produced using unique domestic techniques with mulberry paper as its main component.

Because of its long history and the craftsmanship required to produce just one sheet of hanji, as well as its fine quality and durability, the paper has long been regarded a proud cultural heritage to many Koreans.

But the affection doesn't seem to connect to actual consumption.

"When I first jumped into the industry 30 years ago, there were more than 100 ateliers creating hanji in Korea," said Jang Seong-woo, a hanji artisan who runs a hanji atelier Jang Ji Bang in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi. "They have rapidly vanished over the past years and now there are less than 20. What is worse, there's no young people in the industry to pass down the traditional techniques to."

In the past, hanji was much more than just a backdrop for writing and painting.

Koreans used it to build houses, using sheets of hanji to finish the walls, floors and windows.

Hanji was also employed in making various household items like sewing boxes, dressers, handheld fans, and lampshades.

Even used hanji was rarely discarded, and often was dissolved in water and woven into cords to craft baskets and shoes. Due to its versatility, hanji ateliers flourished during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and different techniques developed in different regions of the country.

However, in the wake of modernization and the introduction of mass produced Western style pulp paper, the population of hanji artisans waned and the price of hanji increased.

However, hanji has slowly been regaining some recognition, but this time, outside of Korea.

Italy's Central Institute for Restoration and Conservation of Archival and Library Heritage has officially acknowledged hanji as an appropriate material for restoring and preserving artifacts.

In 2017, hanji was used by the Louvre Museum in Paris to restore a handle ornament on an antique writing desk from 18th century Bavaria that belonged to King Maximilian II.

In that same year, it was also used to restore a globe owned by Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) and was displayed in Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII in Italy, the hometown of Pope John XXIII.

But outside the field of restoration, hanji remains quite inaccessible for the general public.

In efforts to bring hanji closer to the general public and effectively promote it overseas, the Korea Craft & Design Foundation (KCDF) established the Hanji Culture and Industry Center and opened its doors late last month in Bukchon, central Seoul.

Thanks to the center, visitors can now touch and feel some 400 different kinds of handcrafted local hanji products from hanji ateliers across the country.

“Despite its excellence and long history, hanji seem to be relatively less known around the world compared to other Asian traditional papers while it’s not being as consumed as much we would like by Koreans,” said Vice Culture Minister Oh Young-woo at the opening event of the Hanji Culture and Industry Center. “This center will act as a platform where networks, seminars and workshops related to hanji take place to actively promote the traditional Korean paper not only to our own people but to people from across the globe.”

Visitors can try writing on the different types of hanji at the new center. [KCDF]

To celebrate the opening of the center, the KCDF invited hanji artisans, designers and distributors to give them a tour around the two-story space.
Colorfully-patterned hanji as well as at least 14 different types of plain hanji, or sunji, can be spotted on the first floor of the new center, where visitors can also have a go writing on it and examine and compare the distinct textures and different thickness of hanji made in different parts of the country.

Some handicrafts made with hanji are also on display on the first floor to allow visitors an insight into its various uses.

On the basement level, there’s a space where forums and workshops can be organized. There’s also a small lab where visitors can learn about modern applications of hanji.

The hanji archive is also located here, where visitors can access detailed information on the different varieties and their producers. Inside the archive cabinets, hanji from different ateliers is displayed along with the ateliers’ history and photographs of their design process.

Archives of different hanji on the basement floor of the Hanji Culture and Industry Center [KCDF]

Some regional hanji ateliers stick to the traditional way of making the paper and are proud to do so, like the Mungyeong Traditional (Jeongtong) Hanji in North Gyeongsang.

The ateliers resist using bleaching chemicals, therefore, the hanji has a rough surface and a yellowish white color — the same outcome obtained by following the traditional method used during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties.

Making hanji the traditional way is very laborious. The process involves cutting and steaming mulberry branches so the bark can be peeled and boiled in lye. It is then washed and pounded into a mixture before mulberry starch is added and then dissolved it in water for screening. Finally it is laid flat to dry and for the surface to be refined. All these steps are done by hand by an artisan — a “devotion,” says Kim Chun-ho, a fifth-generation hanji maker of Mungyeong Traditional Hanji.

Some other ateliers however, actively adopted modern technologies to produce less expensive yet more colorful and fine hanji, to make it more appealing and accessible to the general public.

“These days there are many hanji that get produced by fusing handwork and machine,” said Kim Hyun-joo, director and designer of KHJ Studio that makes handicrafts using hanji. “Such hanji are very popular among young people learning calligraphy using fountain pens. It’ll take time but if we continue to promote hanji and its charms, I believe it can become popular both in and outside Korea.”

Kim Tae-hoon, the new president of the KCDF said that the center ultimately “aims to function as a cultural platform where hanji can ride the Korean wave and increase its presence overseas.”

“I participate in international conventions and fairs with hanji,” said Kim Bo-kyung, president of Fides International, a local supplier of hanji. “The response is great. Both Europeans and Americans are definitely attracted to hanji but it stops there. Even by looking at craftworks made of hanji like lampshades, jewelry boxes, they think it’s so beautiful but they think it’s too pricey for a paper.”

The new Hanji Culture and Industry Center in Bukchon, central Seoul. [KCDF]

Kim said she hopes the center can “actively support hanji ateliers and designers to hold small classes both in Korea and overseas to teach people how to make handicrafts using hanji.”

“It’ll first attract people and then become popular as a material of their artwork,” she added.

For more information about upcoming workshops, seminars and more, visit www.hanji1000.kr or call (02) 741-6600.

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [[email protected]]

Monday, September 3, 2018

A new Hanji craft tutorial video is now available!

A new how-to video is now available on the HanjiNaty YouTube channel!

This is the second how-to video, that shows you who to cut and glue the inner colours of a Hanji craft design.

In the next few months, I will continue to create and upload new videos onto the HanjiNaty's YouTube channel, introducing the different steps of the creative process.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below! Enjoy!

10 Newtro Trends In South Korea That Will Ignite Your Love For Everything Retro

South Korea’s newtro trend has been making people fall in love with everything retro , from fashion to food. Newtro (뉴트로) is derived from the words “new” and “retro”, and it reflects the current trend of people being drawn to nostalgic items and experiences.

Recently, many K-dramas, K-pop groups, and variety shows have increased the visibility of the newtro trend. Examples include TvN’s Reply series, idols wearing modern hanboks , and the recent debut of SSAK3, whose concept emulates Koyote, a co-ed trio popular in the 90s .

1. Old-school snacks with original packaging

Lotte’s Peppero in its original 1983 packaging
Image credit: 비비빅닷컴

When we think of old-school snacks, we think of our childhood when we would save a portion of our pocket money in order to buy our favourite snacks. Now that we’re older, we can buy snacks whenever we want, but the packaging of these old-school snacks no longer look like what they used to be when we were kids.

Thankfully, the newtro trend has brought back the appeal of retro packaging. Several brands, such as Lotte, Gompyo, and Samyang, have released special retro editions of their popular snacks.

Lotte’s Juicy & Fresh Gum
Image credit: diarycat

Lotte’s Juicy & Fresh Gum first entered the market in 1972 and it is still one of Lotte Confectionery’s most well-known products today. Inspired by the newtro trend, Lotte released a retro edition of their best-selling product.

Featuring bright colours and designs reminiscent of signboards in the ‘70s , the paper wrapper of each gum strip bears words of encouragement such as “ E verything will be okay”, “I love you”, and “I’ll always be by your side, don’t worry”.

Gompyo Original popcorn, nachos and canned beer
Image credit: @yellow770327

Another brand that has decided to ride on the newtro trend bandwagon is Gompyo , a flour company that has been around since 1955. Gompyo re-designed the look of their popcorn, nachos, and beers to reintroduce elements of their packaging back in the 90s, such as the font and their original green polar bear logo.

Samyang’s Star Popeye Snack and Lotte’s Cheetos
Image adapted from: diarycat and diarycat

Several savoury snacks, such as Samyang’s Star Popeye Snack and Lotte’s Cheetos , have also made it back onto shelves, with retro packaging that evokes nostalgia in consumers.

2. Retro alcohol packaging

Jinro’s Jinro is Back and Kumbokju’s Soju King
Image credit: @geuncheol.kim

Original discontinued 70s versions of soju have made their return to shelves with their original packaging, logos, and taste. The growing list includes Kumbokju’s Soju King, Muhak, and Jinro is Back. These newtro editions use transparent blue bottles, which immediately sets them apart from current soju bottles that come in green.

Oriental Brewery (OB) Lager (Newtro edition)
Image credit: @29cm.official

Beer brands such as Oriental Brewery have also adopted a retro look for their products. The newtro edition of their OB Lager features a cute bear mascot that was originally used back in the 1950s.

Image credit: @artbox_kr_official

The rise of retro alcohol packaging recently has inspired lifestyle store ARTBOX to launch a series of retro shot glasses – available as a set of 4 for KRW9,900 (

USD8.50) – so that one can enjoy a full-blown nostalgic drinking session.

3. Hanok-inspired home interior

Image credit: Wallpaper

Hanok is a type of traditional Korean housing first built and designed in the 14th century, during the reign of the Joseon Dynasty. A hanok has an overall wooden finish with giwa (tiled roofs), wooden beams, and windows and doors made out of wooden frames and hanji (Korean paper).

The traditional beauty of hanoks has not been lost in modern times. In fact, it has become a trend to incorporate certain characteristics of a hanok into one’s modern living space.

Image credit: 도라지

The newtro revival of hanok architecture in a modern home involves the incorporation of modern furniture into hanok and vice versa . The harmony of the past and present in a modern hanok interior is unique, eye-catching, and especially irresistible for wood-lovers.

4. Hanok cafes

Dagwawa Cafe in Gyeongju
Image credit: @ellena.jin

While some might not want to revamp their home interior to look like a hanok , it doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy spending time in one. The rise of hanok cafes in Korea h as shown that people do appreciate the beauty of traditional architecture, and it’s made even better with a cup of coffee in hand.

Noondlejae Cafe in Chungcheongnam-do
Image adapted from: @noondlejae_official and @noondlejae_official

Most hanok cafes maintain the external appearance and general structure of a traditional hanok while having a minimalist and modern interior. At these cafes, customers can enjoy being surrounded by Korea’s rich history without having to sit uncomfortably on the floor, which was a common practice in the past.

Cafe Edge in Chungnam
Image adapted from: @cafe_edge and @cafe_edge

Hanok cafes are also perfect for those who like to disconnect from a fast-paced city life and spend a long tranquil afternoon sipping on traditional tea.

Hemel Cafe in Sejong City
Image adapted from: @jjinpink_90 and @jjinpink_90

5. Retro arcades

Image credit: @parkyla

Retro arcades evoke a sense of nostalgia with its old-school game selection, rugged interior, and iconic sliding doors that were commonly found in shops and houses back in the day.

Kom Kom Arcade in Itaewon
Image credit: Travie

At Kom Kom Arcade in Itaewon, you can play old-school favourites from the 80s and 90s – such as Super Mario, Snow Bros., and Tetris – at KRW500 (

USD0.43) per game . The retro arcade was featured in Netflix’s When The Camellia Blooms (2019).

Mengkkongyee Arcade in Jeonju
Image adapted from: @jn._.0201 and @__penguining__

Another retro arcade to look out for is Mengkkongyee Arcade in Jeonju, which rose in popularity after it was featured in Search: WWW (2019). The game machines in the arcade look fresh out of the 70s while the exterior of the arcade resembles a typical Korean home of the same decade .

6. Modern hanboks

VIXX’s Shangri La (2017) concept
Image credit: Soompi

Hanboks are traditional Korean clothes worn during the Joseon Dynasty period. They are known for their loose fit, long overlapping necklines, and vibrant colours – all of which have been transposed onto modern hanboks .

Recently, modern hanboks have become a trend thanks to K-pop artists such as A.C.E, BLACKPINK, BTS, and VIXX.

BTS’s 2019 Chuseok greeting
Image credit: @BTS_official

BTS incorporated parts of the hanbok, such as the jeogori (the upper garment), into their outfit for their 2019 Chuseok photoshoot .

BLACKPINK’s How You Like That (2020) and A.C.E’s HJZM : The Butterfly Phantasy (2020) concept
Image adapted from: A.C.E 에이스 and TheKoreaTimes

A.C.E and BLACKPINK also brought attention to the beauty of the traditional garment by donning eye-catching modern hanboks during their recent comebacks.

Image credit: @jaya__lee

Modern hanboks are not only worn as stage outfits but also everyday wear. While a traditional chima (skirt) usually reaches the ankles, modern hanboks feature knee-length skirts that won’t hinder mobility .

Image credit: Hanbok Advancement Center

The Hanbok Advancement Center in Korea ran a pilot program earlier this year, introducing the idea of modern hanbok school uniforms . Since the start of October, 22 Korean schools have started rolling out their new hanbok -inspired uniforms.

7. Retro school uniforms

Image credit: @yu_yeonsu5

Renting retro school uniforms isn’t just a popular tourist activity – even the Koreans do it too. Donning clothes from a different era can instantly transport one back in time .

Image adapted from: @hhha_ae and @byun.ddong

Retro uniform rental is usually available in hanok villages, cultural villages such as Gamcheon Culture Village , and places that evoke a different era, such as the Suncheon Open Film Set . Dressing up in retro uniforms is a popular activity for Korean couples – be it old couples who want to relive their prime years or young ones who want to timelessly document their love.

8. Vintage clothes

Image credit: @imesther98

The newtro trend has become a lifestyle for some, spilling over into their fashion choices too. Thanks to people’s growing love of vintage styles, clothing stores in Korea have begun bringing in clothes that reflect fashion trends of the past 3 decades.

Image credit:

SSAK3, who followed Koyote’s concept from the 1990s, rose to popularity quickly due to the refreshing retro image that they had and their quirky throwback fashion. Yoo Jae-suk, Rain, and Lee Hyo-ri sported trends that were representative of 90s fashion , such as bold prints, bright colours, and gold chains.

Image credit: 방탄소년단

Similarly, BTS members wore 70s-inspired outfits for their recent release, Dynamite (2020). They perfectly pulled off bell-bottom pants and bold prints – styles that would have been called “tacky” and “old-fashioned” if it weren’t for the newtro trend.

9. Cute stickers and mobile accessories

Image credit: @daeun_life

Samsung’s Z Flip was recently released and it helped to revive the trend of decorating phones with cute stickers even among full-grown adults. The newtro trend could even be the reason why Samsung decided to re-introduce flip phones – once popular in the early 2000s – back into the market.

Its nostalgic form inspired many, regardless of their age , to decorate their modern flip phones with stickers and chunky retro keychains.

Image credit: @boppstudio

Plastic bead keychains have also grown popular due to its nostalgic appeal – especially for those born in the ‘90s.

Image credit: @soodeary

10. Makeup packaging inspired by VHS & cassette tapes

Clio’s Prism Multi Palette (PLAY MYMY Limited Edition)
Image credit: @clio_official

Cassette tapes were first introduced in the 1960s but lost their popularity in the 1980s when CDs were introduced. However, they remain sentimental and nostalgic for many and now, even makeup products are being packaged to look like cassettes.

Beauty brands such as Clio, Peripera, Romand , and Stonebrick, have recently released makeup packaged to resemble the retro item.

Peripera’s All Take Mood! Palette
Image credit: @peripera_official

Peripera went all out and released All Take Mood! Eyeshadow Palette , an eyeshadow palette nestled in a cassette tape case. Besides being super cute, the compact size of the case makes this palette easy to carry around for travel or touch-ups throughout the day.

Stonebrick’s Play Your Autumn collection and Romand’s Good Night collection
Image adapted from: stonebrick 스톤브릭 and @romandyou

Meanwhile, Romand and Stonebrick co-opted the look of VHS tapes and cassettes for the packaging of their limited edition makeup sets.

Newtro trend in Korea is still going strong

The newtro trend started in 2019 and continues to be popular even now. As more and more cafes, beauty brands, K-dramas, and K-pop idol groups continue to adopt retro concepts, it’s safe to say that the newtro trend will continue to stay strong as we approach 2021.

Check out other K-culture articles:

Cover image adapted from (clockwise from top left): Travie , diarycat , @daeun_life , and @peripera_official

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It’s not just paper

It’s a curious word… hanji. The Hindi hanji is of course ubiquitous across the country, and globally too. Now, its Korean namesake is connecting artists from different countries, especially since the last decade. Such is the charm of Korea’s ancient textured paper, hanji, handmade from mulberry bark, with an origin dating back to the third century. Hanji originated in China, found acceptance and evolved an identity of its own sometime between the 3rd and 6th centuries in Korea, and was even traded with China in the course of time.

Set it right

So, what differentiates hanji from other traditional paper? Material strength, resilience and longevity are some aspects. A Korean proverb goes on to say that ‘paper lasts a thousand years’, no doubt inspired by the fact that hanji can last well beyond a thousand years. Observe that the Korean manuscript Great Dharani Sutra of Immaculate and Pure Light (704 AD) or Mujujeonggwang Daedaranigyeong on hanji is regarded by many to be the first printed document in the world!

However, what holds the charm for contemporary artists is hanji’s unique texture, which comes from elaborate processing. Processing traditional hanji is perhaps an art by itself, and requires an expert’s judgment and handling.

To begin with, the mulberry bark dak is sun-dried to make dried dak heukpi, which is soaked in water for 24 hours to enable removing the outer layer of the bark. The rest of the bark baekpi is then boiled in water containing buckwheat husk for a few hours and then pounded on a stone surface, after removing the husk, of course. After pounding, it is mixed with the sap of the local plant aibika and then dried as sheets on bamboo supports… and thus emerges hanji, ready to humour an artist’s muse.

The texture and hue of the hanji depends on the multitude of steps in the process, and hanji made by one artisan can be quite distinct from the hanji made by another. So it is that though the hanji-making process has been extensively documented, most artists working with hanji visit Korea to learn first-hand the hanji-making process from a master hanji-maker, because it is his unique way of processing that makes the paper what it is.

Today, hanji art is making not just a comeback in Korea, but finding new followers across oceans. A case in point is Hanji Translated, a transnational coming together of 13 contemporary artists from India, South Korea and the United States who work with hanji — Nirmal Raja, MarnaBrauner, Shormii Chowdhury, Sudipta Das, Christiane Grauert, Ravikumar Kashi, Kwon InKyung, Aimee Lee, Jessica M Ganger, Song Soo Ryun, Lim Soo Sik, Julie VonDerVellen, and Rina Yoon — artists known for their evocative handling of material. Consequently, today, hanji is playing host to not just new streams of thought, but new possibilities of its own existence not surprisingly then, these artists are ever-eager to learn from each other. Thus it came to be that earlier this year, Chennai, courtesy InKo Centre, saw the coming together of these artists.

The way a hanji paper is made allows for it to stake claim as a work of art, and not just in it serving as a conduit for expressing an idea. This is the same reason why an artist’s work sees a unique transformation with hanji. So these were referral points in Hanji Translated, as much as the themes they espouse. So ultimately, while Hanji Translated explored concepts relating to transcultural communication and issues relating to history, identity, migration and memory, what stayed more in the mind was the material of hanji itself.

Hanji Translated saw traditional dolls made from hanji, corded and twined hanji fashioned into various forms, laser-cut hanji pieces, assembled screen printed hanji, inkjet prints, intaglio prints, digital print on hanji (Korean paper) — pieced, folded, machine stitched, tempera on silk and paper pulp, ink and photocopy transfer on hanji paper, and embroidery — an expanse that stretches from rediscovery of an ancient material to a re-inventive exploration of its material nature.

Re-looking hanji

As Christiane Grauert mentions, her Gossamer States series follows in the tradition of jeonji, Korean paper-carving, but shifts from the traditional hand-carved approach to using technology (laser-cutting) to push the boundaries of the material. Likewise, Nirmal Raja, an artist based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, and someone who curated Hanji Translated, has used both screen-printed and hand-cut maps and hanji paper in her installation Blurred Boundaries.

In one of his works, Ravi Kumar Kashi has expanded the fibrous bark manually by delicately pulling and spreading it, a technique he learnt from his teacher Seong Woo.

Aimee Lee, a Korean-American artist, papermaker, writer, and a leading hanji researcher and practitioner in North America elaborates, “For the last decade, I have made art from paper that I make directly from plants, in the lineage of hanji. Hanji was used for household goods, worship, agriculture, and even war. My job as an artist and researcher is to follow this long historical thread in both directions, by unearthing past roles of hanji and creating new ones for today. Specifically, I make objects for the space that I inhabit as an American born to Korean parents.” She goes on to say that her most powerful expressive tool is hanji itself.

Equally illustrative is artist Marna Brauner’s point that the history of hanji in Korea is as a material for building, rather than a substrate for picture-making. “During my first trip to South Korea in 2012, I was amazed by the indigenous objects, both historical and contemporary, that were made by the cutting, layering, twisting, gluing and sewing of this paper to produce sewing boxes, lacquered containers, furniture and even funereal garments. It is this allusion to function that I hope is conveyed in my work”.

It’s also intriguing to see hanji platforming philosophical inquiries that trace its origin to other civilisations. For instance, Ravi Kumar Kashi’s artistic exploration of the concept of karma comes alive visually with Book of Destiny, an ink and photocopy transfer on Japanese raka-stained hanji paper that displays a grid on the leaves of a weathered, open book.

It is curious that this ancient paper that was once the prerogative of statecraft and scripture, and later on as the material of objects of ritual and everyday usage, is now being explored as objects of expression and for themes of more pedantic concepts. What makes this possible is the versatility of hanji and the enthusiasm of contemporary hanji aficionados to go back to hanji’s roots and revive it as material and muse.

What Is Paper Weaving? (with pictures)

Paper weaving is a craft in which thin strips or sheets of paper are woven together to create textured, durable, and colorful new creations. Woven paper has many different uses. Some of the simplest paper weaving projects are designed for children and can be used in conjunction with lessons on patterns and colors. Many professional artists are also paper weavers. Woven paper has a special place in traditional Japanese and Korean cultural crafts, as well, and often serves as a canvas of sorts for original art.

The basic tenet behind paper weaving is the interlay of paper strips. Strips are woven, one over the other, into some new whole. The thicker the strips and the more durable the paper, the easier the weaving project.

Paper weaving is a popular school craft, particularly for young children. Weaving helps children develop dexterity and coordination and can also reinforce lessons on colors and patterns. It does not take a lot of talent to make a simple woven mat, and young artists of all skill levels can participate and quickly master the technique.

Not all paper weaving projects are so simple. More advanced crafters often make intricate murals and patterned designs by weaving narrow paper strips together. With a bit of planning, an artist can create a woven paper portrait by using strips of paper strategically colored and tinted such that a larger image appears once the strips are joined together.

Three-dimensional projects, such as woven paper baskets, bags, and decorations like ornaments are also possible. These crafts usually take a bit of skill, and often involve other media, as well. In order for paper products to be functional, they must often be treated or mounted on other substances.

The ancient Japanese art of origami often integrates elements of paper weaving. Origami is the practice of transforming squares of paper into three-dimensional works of art. Traditional origami paper is typically very lightweight, and weaving with it takes a great deal of care and precision. Many woven origami pieces are small and intricate, often composed by masters.

Paper weaving has an important place in traditional Korean crafts, as well. Hanji is a thick paper made from native Korean tree bark that is simultaneously durable and flexible. Artisans typically craft hanji into small dolls, paper boxes, and floating lanterns. This sort of paper lends itself well to a variety of weaving projects and embellishments. Most hanji dolls wear realistic woven jackets and pants made from the paper, for instance, and boxes often feature woven inlays and embellishments.

In more modern times, hanji has been used to weave various textiles, including dresses and other garments for people. These clothes are primarily created for novelty’s sake and are rarely work outside of cutting-edge runways and art exhibitions. Just the same, that they exist is a testament to the breadth of the paper weaving craft.

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