One of my favorite Korean handicrafts is Minhwa (민화), or Korean folk painting. I recently acquired a lovely reproduction of a well-known Minhwa theme, called Hojakdo (호작도), or a tiger, magpie, and pine tree scene. There are many versions of this triad, and this one makes me smile. Minhwa paintings have a charm and accessibility that is irresistible.
Minhwa means “the peoples’ painting” and it is a naïve folk style that typically depicts everyday life and customs of Korean people, which include images from nature, characters, and symbols from folklore.
Hojakdo paintings such as mine are one type of Minhwa, and they were traditionally displayed in homes in the beginning of the Lunar New Year to protect families from evil. Many people think of tigers as scary animals; however, in Hojakdo, tigers are painted to be ridiculous, thus one of their nicknames was “idiot tiger.” According to the Talk Talk Korea website, tigers represent the power of the state, and artists wanted to satirize the attitude of government in their paintings. Magpies represent the citizenry, and are typically shown as ingenious creatures, just out of reach of the tiger’s swipe.
I recommend a website that shows some examples of different kinds of Minhwa, including Hojakdo, and brief explanations. I also recommend a nice 2-part video series on YouTube that gives a definition of Minhwa and specifically shows materials and how to paint: Episode 1 is here and Episode 2 is here. The episodes are about 12 minutes long, in total. Also, if you are a fan of Pinterest, you can do a search for Minhwa and will see a lot of examples.
Right now, I am in the middle of painting my apartment, which is not so satisfying artistically, but is much needed. It is also slow going. I am just now finishing my living room, and soon will start on the kitchen / hall area. I’ll be using a soft lime green on one of the kitchen walls, so decided to make a little matching pillow for my hall bench, using scrap yarn. My readers will know how much I love using scraps to create something lovely! I’ll be done with this simple crocheted granny pillow cover by tomorrow, and will share the results.
Until next time, be well and stay safe.