I explored one of the most popular genres of Minhwa called Hojakdo this week. The word “ho” represents a tiger, “jak” indicates a magpie, and “do” means painting. Therefore, Hojakdo mainly features the tiger and magpie. In Korea, the number of tigers proliferated in the past. As tigers were threatening at that time, Korean ancestors intentionally drew them with humorous facial expressions as if they were funny and friendly cats to represent people’s will to overcome fear. This is a unique and distinctive characteristic of Korean folk painting, Minhwa that cannot be found in other nations where they portray tigers as fierce in their paintings. Moreover, Korean ancestors hung pictures of comical tigers in front of their doors or on the walls especially during New Year’s Day in order to drive away evil spirits as tigers possess traits of strength. Imagine fierce and intimidating tigers’ paintings hung at every house’s door. Would you want to walk around that village? Can tigers be scarier than evils when the purpose was to keep atrocious evils away?
Meanwhile, the magpie symbolizes a harbinger of good news or close friends. It also is believed to be the messenger of shrine divinities bringing good luck. Therefore, the magpie roles as guiding the direction and informing the tiger that helps ward off evil spirits. Appearance of magpie adds more interesting and delicate story on the painting that could have been mundane with only tiger present.
Hojakdo represents the typical Korean spirit of optimism, unconventional layout, and combined wit and humor. It also incorporates the wish of luck and happiness.
I was surprised while searching for Hojakdo that from Indian who stayed in Korea for a while, learned Minhwa, drew her own Hojakdo, described its theme, and shared on the blog with the painting she drew as demonstrated below. Her friend commented on her Hojakdo how beautiful and gorgeous it was with the fascination of reading the explanation.
I do not know how much Minhwa was known internationally but it was pleasant for me to see that Minhwa was drawn and promoted in other nation. I would like to research more deeply on this topic.
Next week, I am going to introduce materials needed for Minhwa painting and the process of drawing.
Citation: Senses, A Treat for the. “A Treasure-Trove of All Things Beautiful.” My First Minhwa Painting !, 3 Apr. 2014, atreatforthesenses.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-first-painting.html.