Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yangdong Folk Village of World Cultural Heritage selection criteria

Yangdong Village is a Korean folk village designated as Important Folk Material No. 189, located along the Hyeongsan River 20 km northeast of Gyeongju, the city which served as the capital during the millennium-long Silla dynasty.

Since the early Joseon dynasty, when the village was first inhabited, its two principle clans have been the Wolseong Son clan and the Yeogang Yi family.
With historic old structures representative of the Joseon era, Yangdong Village is a well-preserved place exemplifying folk traditions that have been carried on since the Joseon dynasty. Some of the notable structures include houses of yangban aristocracy, such as Seobaekdang House and Mucheomdang House (the head family dwellings of the Wolseong Son clan and Yeogang Yi family, respectively), as well as Gwan-gajeong House and Hyangdan House. There are also chogajip, traditional homes with rice straw-thatched roofs where servants and tenant farmers used to live, pavilions like Yi Hyangjeong House and Simsujeong Pavilion, and examples of seodang, the private village schools of the Goryeo and Joseon eras, like Ganghakdang.

The topography of the village features mountain ranges and ravines resembling the hanja character ‘勿’. The dwellings of the yangban (aristocratic class), known as “banga,” are situated relatively high up on the mountains and ravines, while the houses of tenant farmers are located below these, physically demonstrating one characteristic aspect of the Joseon era class system.

Today, Yangdong Village preserves the appearance of the village as it looked when it was flourishing. Structures situated on geomantically auspicious sites (positions reflected in the character ‘穴’), according to the principles of feng shui, are all designated as either Treasures (three examples, including Mucheomdang House) or Important Folk Materials (91 examples, including Sujoldang House). Currently, since it has been designated an Important Folk Village, the village is carefully maintained and managed in accordance with rigorous historical research, enabling its original appearance to be upheld.

As a representative traditional Korean village built in the 14th-15th centuries, Yangdong Village readily preserves traditional architectural style within a setting and landscape that are in harmony with nature, reflecting the traditional Confucian philosophy of the Joseon era. In keeping with its status as a center of Joseon Confucian education, even today the village is an apt successor to the traditional Confucian culture and lifestyle.

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