Tanchong, Cultural Heritage of Korean Nation
Korean people have created a brilliant history and culture for a long time. Tanchong, colourful painting in architecture, has also a long history of development.
Tanchong is a kind of decorative art widely used in architecture that traced its origin to the painting of mineral plastering materials on wooden structures in order to prevent them from being rotten by weather and eaten by moth and further developed into an important factor in decorating the architectural structures.
Tanchong had already attained a high level of its development during the period of the Three Kingdoms—Koguryo, Paekje and Silla, early feudal dynasties in the Korean history. At that time it had established its specific constituent system in decoration and chromatic principles in colour adjustment.
Tanchong is made up of kum tanchong, moru tanchong and pom tanchong, which are characterized by their patterns.
Kum tanchong is the most gorgeous pattern with intricate but exquisite decorative elements and designs and flamboyant colours.
It was largely applied in decorating palaces and temples, and mostly important buildings among all other architectural groups.
Many buildings with kum tanchong which are preserved in the
country are valuable cultural heritage, representing typical kum tanchong of Korea. Among them are Pogwang Hall in Simwon Temple of Pakchon, Taeung Hall of Kangso Temple in Paechon built in the 17th century, Pogwang halls in Simwon Temple in Yonthan and Chonju Temple in Nyongbyon built in the 18th century, and the Panya (prajna) Shrine in Phyohun Temple in Mt. Kumgang erected in the 19th century.
Moru tanchong, another decorative pattern, is not so monotonous or extravagant, mainly composed of designs and strokes. It was the most widely used one in building palaces and other kinds of structures, and also applied on the other side executed with kum tanchong. Ryongwang Pavilion in Pyongyang, Kwandok Pavilion and Namdae Gate in Kaesong are typical structures which were decorated with moru tanchong.
Pom tanchong is executed on blue- and earth-coloured ground without many designs but black and white lines in the margin. It was mainly used in government offices, inns, private schools, lofts, pavilions and the back sides of the buildings decorated with moru tanchong.
Tanchong is under good preservation in Korea as valuable cultural heritage.
Patterns of kum tanchong at Singye Temple in Mt. Kumgang
Moru tanchong patterns seen on the main building at Popun Hermitage in Mt. Ryongak
The attached building of Kwanum Temple in Kaesong decorated with pom tanchong patterns
Kwangje Temple in Pukchong with kum tanchong patterns