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Portrait of Hwang Byungki: New and Traditional Music for Korean Instruments

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The first two pieces in this concert invoke nature: forests, hills, streams, moonlight, wind, and a mountain retreat. Two Korean paintings in our collections, from the sixteenth or early-seventeenth century, depict solitary figures in dramatic natural settings. In one, a scholar gazes into a mist-laden mountain landscape. In the other, a figure stands under a pine tree amidst mountains and water.

In the concert piece "Harimsong," the composer evokes the sixth-century palace of Harim, where the kayagum [gayagum] is first documented to have been played, in 551 ce. Our collections of Korean art are rich in ceramics and jewelry from this era, part of the Three Kingdoms period. Examples include unglazed stoneware jars used to hold food offerings in the burial of deceased aristocrats
(see Jar 1 , Jar 2 , Jar 3 , Funerary stand with round-bottomed jar, Vessel Stand). Elaborate gold jewelry worn as earrings or suspended from crowns also was produced during the same period. One pendant hangs from a loop of solid gold, with sheet-gold, gold wire, gold granulation, and glass beads forming elaborate designs (see Ear Pendant 1, Ear Pendant 2, Ear Pendant 3).

The concert finale, "Ch'imhyangmu," is an exploration of Buddhist art, using a scale typical of Korean Buddhist chant. Our collections include two fourteenth-century Korean Buddhist paintings. One depicts Amitabha, the Buddha who promises salvation to all believers, along with eight bodhisattvas (enlightened beings), one of whom can save even those who have been reborn in hell. The other shows the Buddhist deity Ji-jang, revered for his merciful deliverance of living beings from the world of suffering. The collection also includes ceramic ritual sprinklers used in Buddhist ceremonies, from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (Buddhist ritual sprinkler (kundika) 1, Buddhist ritual sprinkler (kundika) 2 ), and a ceramic bowl for collecting alms, probably given to a monastery by a noble patron.

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