Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Korean Placenta Jars at The Asian
The Asian Art Museum is featuring a Korean Art exhibit focused on ceremonial artifacts of the royal classes during the Joseon Dynasty from 1392 until 1910, when the Korean peninsula was once again invaded by Japan.
Korean peninsular culture is unimaginably ancient, with the oldest surviving pottery dating from 8000 BCE. That's just the tip of the historical iceberg since humans have been around since the Lower Paleolithic days 500,000 years ago.
The jars above and below are Placenta Jars where the umbilical cord and placenta of royal offspring would be sealed and given reverence.
It may be one of the oddest cultural traditions I have ever encountered.
The remainder of the exhibit features elaborate illustrated books detailing the proper etiquette for royal parades on various occasions, along with objets that made life more beautiful.
Though it doesn't have anything to do with the Joseon Dynasty, there is even a recent Nam June Paik installation with see-through dress and video screen that belongs just for its distinctive Korean eccentricity.