A Traditional Spiritual Colors of Korea -Dancheong-

I am so thankful to IKYEP (Indonesia-Korea Youth Exchange Program) because they introduce me to Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon. It is one of UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Korea which has has the oldest, most comprehensive compilation of Buddhist scriptures, and manage to develop world first movable metal printing type which 200 years before it was developed in the west. Haeinsa temple also has beautiful hanok architecture and landscape.

P1010067When you visit Korean palace or temple you will see the colorful patterns on the roof structure. This patterns impressed me a lot and I try to find some info by reading some books in MMCA Seoul library and asking some friends. Well, this decorative colorfull pattern is called Dancheong.


P1150224 P1160455Dancheong refers to Korean-style decorative coloring used on buildings or other items to convey beauty and majesty, and is done by applying various patterns and paintings in certain area. Five basic colors are : red, blue, yellow, black and white. In addition to its decorative function, dancheong was applied for practical reason as well. It was used for prolong the life of the building and conceal the crudeness of the quality of the material used.

Ordinarily, dancheong refers to the painting of buildings made of wood. Coloring of other buildings or objects may found as well to bring majesty to a stone building, statue or artifact.

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Korean dancheong was further developed and diversified. The characteristics of dancheong of that period are more expressive , complex unit pattern and decorative composition, along with more luxurious coloring. Dancheong is categorized into four types : morucho, byeol-jihwa, bidanmunui, and dandongmunui.

Morucho is a pattern used in painting both ends of supporting beams. This basic patterns consisted of a water lily, pomegranate, bubble, feather, and green flower.

Byeoljihwa is a decorative painting that utilized a storytelling technique and occupied the gap between two morucho. The patterns of byeoljihwa consisted of auspicious animal (dragons, horses, lions, and cranes), the sagunja (plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo), and scene of Buddha sutras.

Bidanmunui is a diverse coloring, elegant design, geometric patterns and usually used in temples.

Dangdongmunui has the design of single flower, animal, geometric or pattern in one section.

P1160141 P1150282 P1150266The painting of dacheong was done by dancheongjang, artisans who skilled in the work of dancheong. When the artisan is a monk, he is referred to geumeo or hwaseung.

It is also said that Dancheong provides both a sense of conformity to certain traditions and diversity within those traditions in South Korea.

HAEINSA TEMPLE IN HAPCHEON P1160570 GWANGHAMUN GATE AT NIGHTand here’re some pictures with friends during IKYEP (Indonesia-Korea Youth Exchange Program) 🙂

Thank Mr.Kim also for the hospitality and warm welcome. It’s a great experience to visit Haeinsa Temple in real life. It’s incredible!

P1010086 P1010102Some pictures above were taken in Haeinsa Temple, Changdeokgung, and Gyeongbokgung in South Korea during my visit on 2012-2014. All pics are my personal collection.

2 thoughts on “A Traditional Spiritual Colors of Korea -Dancheong-

  1. Bismillaah.
    Kak, apa yang kakak posting sungguh sangat menginspirasi anak muda Indonesia. Dapat menjadi bagian dari Indonesian-Korea Youth Exchange Program, menyelami budaya Korea dengan menginjakkan kaki langsung disana, itu adalah prestasi yang sangat membanggakan. Saya sangat terinspirasi oleh kakak.
    Jika kakak berkenan, saya ingin mengetahui lebih lanjut mengenai Indonesian-Korea Youth Exchange Program dari kak Fani, saya sangat ingin menjadi bagian dari IKYEP tahun ini, kak. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s