Exploring Gender Roles in the Creation of Korean Embroidery Arts | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Aug, 2020

Exploring Gender Roles in the Creation of Korean Embroidery Arts | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Aug, 2020

By Sooa Im McCormick, Curator of Korean ArtInstallation view, Diversity in Korean Embroidery Arts, Korea Foundation Gallery 236. Image courtesy David Brichford for the Cleveland Museum of Art.Gold Needles: Embroidery Arts from Korea celebrates women artists who lived in late 18th- and 19th-century Korea. Their art was mostly produced in the inner quarters of the house called gyubang, where they were confined. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, a restricted life is no longer Korea’s remote past, but part of today’s normalcy. During this forced solitude through social distancing and quarantine, many of us, including myself, took up the needle and thread to enjoy the meditative effect of pushing in and pulling the thread out of the cloth or to make masks for frontline professionals.Complementary to Gold Needles, Diversity in Korean Embroidery Arts debunks a prevalent misconception of needlework that assumes the embroiderer is female. By the final decades of the 19th century, male embroiderers from the city of Anju created large-scale embroidered folding screens for a fast-growing commercial market.Gyubang-based Women EmbroiderersToward the latter half of the Joseon dynasty (1392−1910), women increasingly faced rigid restrictions in all aspects of life. Upper-class women in particular were obliged to stay in the inner quarters of a house, called gyubang. Embroidery, alongside other subjects, was taught to middle- and upper-class young women to demonstrate feminine virtues. This art form soon became a powerful tool to reclaim one’s own identity. The skills of embroidery were passed downed as treasured knowledge in families and communities.Gyubang-based embroiderers created works such as rank badges — official insignias that represent the wearer’s political status. While many Chinese rank badges were produced in professional workshops, Korean rank badges were embroidered by home-based embroiderers: wives and daughters. This pair of rank badges sewn with the image of a red-crowned crane holding a lingzhi mushroom in its beak was attached to the front and back of a scholar-official’s uniform. As shown in this pair, each stitch was treated with great precision to showcase the embroiderer’s skill.A Pair of Rank Badges with Single Crane Motif (단학흉배), 1800s. Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). Silk, satin damask weave; silk thread embroidery; each: 25.4 x 25.4 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Alma Kroeger Fund, 2019.78This embroidered eight-panel folding screen colorfully renders a birthday party of an 8th-century Chinese military general named Guo Ziyi.


Source link