Category Archives: Korea

Lotus Inspirations

Entrance to the Koryo Museum in KyotoI guess you could say I’ve had a relatively wordless summer as I quietly worked on my stitchery, but it was never been my intention to allow so much time to pass in silence. Yet here it is September and I’m just now posting about some of the delights of my summer.

I did manage to find some time to spend at the Koryo Museum. It’s just a little place tucked into the north west corner of the city. Dedicated to traditional Korean art, their exhibitions are always a delight and this summer’s fare, was lotus-themed art. For this exhibition, they assembled a lovely collection of temple bells, rubbings, etchings, stone work, woodwork, metal work, textiles, paintings and ceramics that each featured the lotus in some part of the design.

Candlestick carved in the shape of a lotus plant, Koryo Museum, Kyoto, Japan

Though many people are familiar with the lotus through Buddhist art, but the lotus actually has a history that well predates the introduction of Buddhism. Lotus plants are known to have existed in the Cretaceous period (140—165 million years ago) and for at least a millennia, lotus leaves have been used as wrappers, their edible roots and seeds appreciated throughout Asia and ancient literature described its flowers in the most poetic terms. It’s only natural that they would also have become a favorite decorative motif for a wide range of crafts. And as these images were transmitted down through generations, the motif evolved to become an elegant representation crossing through the cultures of an entire continent.

In keeping with its mission to display traditional Korean art, the pieces exhibited at the Koryo Museum were all from the Koryo (918—192 AD) or Chosôn (1392—1910 AD) dynasties of Korea. Koreans have always been renowned as particularly exquisite craftsmen and women. Korean potters, embroiderers, weavers were highly valued in the courts of Korea’s more powerful neighbors, China and Japan.At right is the lovely wood carving that graced the entryway to the exhibition proper, a candlestick in the shape of a lotus plant—it’s broad leaf forms the base, the blossom holds the candle and there’s even a cute little frog crawling up the stalk.

Korean painting, Koryo Museum, Kyoto, Japan
Alongside the king, there was a class of men known collectively as the yangban, who helped to govern Korean society during the Chosôn dynasty (1392–1910).

The yangban was comprised of civil or military officials, with civil positions being considered more prestigious. Members of the yangban were expected to hold public office, follow the Confucian doctrine of study and self-cultivation, and help cultivate the moral standards of Chosôn society, in essence, they comprised the literati of Korean society at that time. And in keeping with the dictum of self-cultivation, many in the yangban class were accomplished artists, practiced in calligraphy and ink painting, which were traditionally considered the two media most appropriate for the literati.

Creating paintings like the image of fish swimming among lotu at left would have been a favorite pastime of this group. And along with the creating the painting, a proper literati was expected to own an assortment of simple yet beautiful instruments, such as porcelain or wooden brush holders (11.142.1) and porcelain water droppers as well as an inkstone, brushes, and paper. These small accessories, along with refined yet unostentatious wooden furniture, were not only for personal use but also for display as indicators of his station in life. Which naturally led to the commission of even more elegantly crafted items, such as those displayed in the rest of the exhibit.

Round flask with lotus design carved into white slip coating, Koryo Museum, Kyoto, Japan The ceramic flask at right is stoneware, covered with white slip and then carved to expose the darker clay body underneath. Quite typical of its time, this style is called buncheong ware, and was created in the southern part of Korea. This particular style was quite admired for Tea ceremony in Japan and imported as Korai chawan or Korean teabowls.

But perhaps the most famous style of Korean pottery would be celadon. The technique was orginally developed in China during the tenth century and later transmitted to Korea, but as Korean potters adopted and refined the technique, it evolved into a truly exquisite and uniquely Korean form.

Celadon tea cup in the shape of a lotus resting on a celadon saucer shaped like a lotus leaf, Koryo Museum, Kyoto, Japan Of all the art in this exhibit, the teabowls are among the most elegant and refined. The tea bowl and saucer set shown at left was made from a delicately carved clay body, with incised designs that were inlaid red or white clay slip and then coated with celadon glaze and fired. When removed from the kiln, the inlaid slip appeared as white or black beneath the green glaze. On the cup at left you can see faint flower images on each carved petal that comprises the tea bowl, which in turn rests upon a beautifully carved lotus leaf saucer.

Lotus shaped incense burner, Koryo Museum, Kyoto, Japan And as another celebration of beauty, this carved celadon incense burner dates from the Koryo dynasty and is thought to predate the teabowl shown above. Although there is only a minimal effort at the incised multi-colored slip inlay, it still features intricate carving and delicate humorous touches such as the “pedestal” of bunny rabbits on which the lotus leaf base rests.

Of course, being surrounded with so much lotus inspiration, how could I help but spend a good part of my summer making a bit of my own lotus-themed art? Last month I opened an extension of this site to sell my digitized embroidery designs. So far, my sets include not only Lotuses but also egrets and morning glories and more yet to come. May I invite you to visit my shop next door, simply by clicking here.

A day at the Miho

I’ve been working hard of late, busily trying to re-organize large sections of my life. But sometimes you just need to stop for a break. And so when I was invited out recently for a day at the Miho, the seduction of the moment was just to great to refuse.

Miho MuseumOne of the world’s most beautiful museum buildings, the Miho Museum is nestled in the hills of Shiga prefecture about an hour’s drive from Kyoto. Approximately 75% of the building designed by I.M. Pei is actually underground to minimize any disruption to the forested hillside on which it is built, yet the rooftop constructed largely of glass floods the interior with natural light, while the steel crossbeams provide and intricate interplay of shadows across the floors and walls.

Silla goldwork The current exhibit called “Eurasian Winds Toward Silla” focused on archeological treasures from the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla, one of three monarchies that arose on the Korean peninsula around the 3rd century AD. (as shown in the map below) The city of Gyeongju, once the capital of Silla, is now home of the Gyeongju National Museum in Korea, which supplied a collection of artifacts showing the influence of migrating central Asian tribes on the art and culture of the far east.

3 kingdoms of KoreaThe fall of the powerful Han Dynasty in China around 220 AD had allowed nomadic tribes from Central Asia to roam across northern China and subsequently migrate eastward into the Korean peninsula, bringing with them advanced techniques in glassmaking, metal smelting, pottery as well as Mediterranean and European motifs that had an impact on the early culture of Silla. In particular Silla, became known for its intricate goldwork as reflected by the crown shown above and the filligree cap shown below.

Silla goldwork It’s not certain precisely how the crown was worn, but the “duckbill” hanging downward may have formed a visor while the side panels encircled the head. There may have also been some form of cloth head covering that has not survived the centuries. Small pailettes of beaten gold are attached with twisted wires to both sides of the structure, perhaps to emulate feathers or perhaps simply to add shimmering glints of reflected light as the wearer of the crown moved his or her head. The cap on the right is fairly small object and thought to have been cover for long hair that had been twisted into a top knot.

The elegance and skill with which these pieces were fabricated is fairly obvious even in these reproductions and thought to be reminiscent of Scythian goldwork hundreds of years earlier in the region ranging from the Caspian sea to the Baltic coast. As the Scythians were displaced in the around the second century BC, portions of the population moved southward influencing artistic developments in Greece, while other sections of the population migrated eastward across the Asian steppes, bringing their skills to the Pazyrk tribes of Siberia and then downward into China. It was this type of migration, not only of Scythian technology but also that of other Eurasian tribes, that the exhibit attempted to describe through a careful reconstruction and juxtaposition of the archeological evidence.

Silla pottery In addition to goldsmithing, the exhibition explored the development of Silla culture through artifacts that included glassware, goblets and other forms of metal work. The introduction of new forms of kilns allowed higher temperature firing of ceramics and the production of Roman-style glass.

botanical arabesque design from Korea With the rise of the Tang dynasty, Silla was able to form new alliances with the Chinese in order to emerge the victorious conqueror of its immediate neighbors, uniting the Korean peninsula under its rule. And from this powerful new position, unified Silla facilitated the further spread of not only technical processes but also Mediterranean and other east European motifs across two continents to the rim of the Pacific Ocean.

A Mother’s Touch

Japanese sewing boxRecently I caught a lovely little exhibit called “A Mother’s Touch”, focused on the interaction between sewing and mothering across China, Korea and Japan.

Along with all sorts of lovely little toys and trinkets that women sew for their children, the exhibit included an assortment of sewing boxes and baskets used in various parts of Asia.

sewing basket The beautiful wood grained box shown above is one of the styles typical of Japan, while the heart-shaped basket at right is from China. The sewing tools below are from Korea.

Korean sewing tools
Whether a simple basket, a fold of paper or an elaborate wooden box, each of the displays reflected the attention women paid to caring for their needles and threads. And both the containers and their contents often revealed not only the cultural differences but also the cross-cultural universality of sewing.

handsewn Japanese cloth toys

But the main focus was on the wide variety of hand sewn children’s clothing and cloth toys women made for their children in the countries covered in the exhibit, hence the name “A Mother’s Touch”. Shown at right is a collection from Japan featuring pouches in various styles as well as a few traditional rag-doll babies, all made from an assortment of kimono remnants.

Below is a young boy’s kimono from solid and checkerboard indigo beautifully embroidered with elaborate sashiko designs showing the mother’s wish for her child to be blessed with both wealth and longevity. Note the use of white thread against the blue and blue thread against white.

A child's kimono with sashiko embroidery Sashiko is one of the Japanese embroidery techniques that has become better known in the west. It consists of small evenly spaced running stitches outlining the design and may be purely decorative, as shown in the example at left, or may be used to patch, repair, reinforce or quilt layers of fabric for use in clothing and housewares.

Photos of women stitching, like this Chinese grandmother, were sprinkled throughout the exhibit.
Chinese woman sewing

Chinese baby wearing an embroidered hatIn Guanzhong Region of China, infants and young children are adorned with fabulous little hats embroidered with animal faces. As in many agrarian societies, the mortality rate is high for young children giving rise to a mythology that when demon-spirits looked down and saw a beautiful child, these demons would become jealous and snatch that child away. Thus, the animal hats were an effort to disguise the children, to hide and protect them from jealous demons. Of course, knowledge of disease and medicine has supplanted such mythology, but the tradition of these cute little hats has continued, though I am told that it is, like so many other hand arts, on the edge of disappearing as technology advances.

Chinese papercut pattern for embroidery The individual hat designs are derived from papercuts like the one at right. Folded paper is cut freehand to develop a symmetrical design based a combination of abstract and natural forms. The resultant design is then colorfully re-interpreted with needle and thread making each work a unique piece of art.

Assortment of embroidered toys and children's clothing from China But the application of this technique is not limited to children’s hats. At left are a few more examples of little slippers, stuffed toys and pillows. It’s a beautiful folk art that I’d like to investigate further.

With each piece in the exhibit, you could feel the love that added with every stitch—a visual celebration of the bond between mother and child.

And with that thought, may I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day!

Pojagi revisited

pojagiI confess I was a bit surprised that my last post sparked so much interest. I’ve been in love with pojagi since I saw an exhibit called “Patterns and Colors of Joy” at a museum in Osaka around 15 years ago. And since I’m aware of a modern pojagi artist, Chunghie Lee, who is quite active in the international art textile scene, teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design in the US and exhibiting at the Victoria an Albert Museum in London, I had thought that pojagi was better known. Techniques for creating textiles this luscious certainly deserve to be better known. So let me do my best to say a bit more.

These first three examples show traditional pojagi from the Choson dynasty and all three were made from scraps of silk. Ramie, a bast fiber similar to linen, is another fabric commonly used to create pojagi. Fabric scraps were generally rescued from worn out hanbok, which is actually just a contraction for a longer term that translates simply as “Korean clothing”. Many of the elegant white on white pojagi made from ramie had once been petticoats or pantaloons. Some of those lovely white wrapping cloths show delightful variations of cream, ivory and pale yellow, because the garments from which the fabric scraps had been rescued had aged and yellowed at different rates and the seamstress worked those variations into her composition.

pojagiOften silk pojagi, like the one shown at right, include small embroidered designs that had once graced a sleeve or neckline. These treasured tidbits are carefully preserved and recycled into newly beautiful and graceful housewares. Small silk wrapping cloths might be used to wrap jewelry or porcelain, while ramie cloths might be used while serving food. One of the charming customs I observed during my recent trip was that food was initially presented covered with a lovely cloth. In the pojagi picture shown my previous post, you can see the foot of a wooden tray, peeking from beneath the pojagi and a mysterious object hidden beneath the cloth. Most likely that would be a pot of food. After the tray has been carried to the table, the cloth is dramatically removed to reveal the prepared food.

In the Choson period, the availability of scraps used to make pojagi was dictated by sumptuary laws. In the modern period and certainly in the west, there are few limitations on clothing choice. But throughout medieval Asia, many countries had strict regulations limiting the clothing choices of specific classes. In Korea, commoners could only wear muted colors, and the lowest classes wore undyed fabric. The upper classes were able to wear brighter colors, and of course, finer weaves of ramie as well as some silks were available. The brightest colors—red, blue, and yellow— as well as the most refined weaves were worn by the royal family. In particular, commoners were absolutely forbidden to wear yellow, since that color was thought to represent the center of the universe.

The fact that pojagi could and were made from any available fabric became absolutely clear to me during an exhibit I saw last September at the Koryo Museum here in Kyoto. One of the pieces on exhibit was dated from the 1950s and made from khaki green cotton twill. There were numbers stenciled in black on some of the patches. It had been made from old US army uniforms that had been given South Korean refugees during the Korean War. And when those clothes were worn out, they too were recycled as pojagi.

pojagi technique
One of the things that makes pojagi special is the way the patches are stitched together. There are a number of different techniques, and the choice is dictated by the fabric being recycled. Shown above is a close up of a single hairline seam being made Notice on the left how tiny and closely overcast seam is stitched. This technique would be particularly applicable to a fine fabric like silk organza.

pojagi technique

When I took a pojagi-making class here in Kyoto a few years ago, we used cotton embroidery floss to give a boldness to our seam stitch. Often a contrasting color is used, giving even greater strength to the stitch as a design element. In addition to the single hairline seam shown above, there are double and triple hairline seams, a flat fell seam using running stitches and several variant combinations of the two. One such combination of a hairline and running stitch is shown at right.

This kind of seaming technique gives the pojagi finishes the raw edges on the reverse side, leaving the pieced fabric light-weight and highly flexible. When made of sheer fabrics, like handkerchief linen or silk organza, the pojagi appear translucent like stained glass when held to the light.

modern pojagi Pojagi crafts are quite rage in Japan with many centers and galleries offering classes to the public. A friend of a friend has become so enchanted that she even flies to Pusan, South Korea for regular lessons from a true Pojagi master.

Ramie is often a bit more difficult to find, but linen is regularly used as a substitute. And small home decor accessories like the simple basket cover shown at left are a frequent first project. Pojagi that are meant to be used as covers or lids often have a ribbon handle at the center. The ribbon is quite apparent in the picture at left, and can also be seen in the center of the second antique pojagi shown above. Those types of details provide historians with clues to the purposes for which an antique pojagi was made. Coarser fabrics, a larger size and reinforced corners indicate use in wrapping and tying up heavier bundles. Straps at one or more of the corners indicate the various types of cloths that were used for wrapping and storing precious items.

modern pojagi Other beginner projects include coasters and placemats or dresser scarves as well as a variety of small three-dimensional forms, just as it would have been for young Korean girls a century ago. Anything to practice the seaming techniques. Of course many of the works created by modern pojagi artists have moved beyond the traditional categories of usage. The window curtain at right is made of sheer linen in pale blue and white and seems to lean toward an abstract landscape, rather than relying on the traditional non-representational abstractions.

And then again, our hectic modern lives often offer too many distractions for the peaceful rhythms of hand sewing and so, there are some artists who replace the hand-sewn seams of traditional pojagi with incredibly narrow machine-sewn French seams. And as much as I find myself in that latter category, I still admire the fine handwork of traditional piecing techniques.

modern pojagi

At left is a piece in indigo linen with hand embroidery and hand piecing. Even in this distant shot, it is easy to see how the running stitches in white thread accent some of the patchwork seams and add to the overall design.

Perhaps the best known of modern pojagi artists, in the West at least, is still Chunghie Lee. Below is an organza outfit she made in the mid-90s, which is still one of my favorite inspirational pieces. If you look closely, you can see that the model is wearing matching earrings made from three-dimensional balloon-like pojagi structures in the same colors as the skirt. There are a few more pojagi fashion pieces by Chunghie Lee in the archives of the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

modern pojagi Leonie Castelino is another textile artist who incorporates pojagi as well as other East Asian textile processes into her reprertoire. I highly recommend a visit to her web-gallery as another source of pojagi inspiration.

Sadly I wasn’t able to find any English-language books on this topic to suggest further reading. All of the books and catalogues in my collection are in either Japanese or Korean. Although I am aware of a few US magazines such as Ornament and Surface Design that have printed occasional articles on pojagi, it would seem that the internet remains the primary resource at present.

And hopefully, my little bit of blogging on this topic has contributed something to making the beauty of Korean culture a little better known.

Korean Embroidery

Young woman wearing hanbok, the traditional Korean costumeEmbroidery was the real reason for my trip to Korea. Delicate and tasteful, Korean embroidery is some of the most elegant in the world. It is said that in medieval times, one of the Korean rulers owed a debt to the Emperor of China and so as payment, the emperor demanded that the women most skilled in embroidery be gathered and sent to work at the Chinese court at Xian. With that, the debt was paid in full. And it was Korean embroiderers who brought sericulture and silk embroidery to the Japanese archipelago around 300 AD.

By the Choson period, Korean embroidery could be classified into two groups: Gung-su (royal court embroidery) and Min-su (folk embroidery). To supply the demands of royal court, Gung-su embroidery was produced in great variety to adorn large scale screens with grand images of pine trees and cranes, flowers and birds, and hundred-letter compositions featuring the symbols for longevity and happiness. Wooden furniture frequently had embroidered panels inset into cabinet doors, drawer facings and box lids. And the range of pouches is nothing short of amazing — incense pouches, writing brush pouches, spoon cases and a wide variety of women’s accessories.

Young woman wearing ceremonial hanbok, the traditional Korean costume

The traditional dress of Korea is called the hanbok. For women, the basic hanbok features a high-waisted full skirt and a short jacket. An elaborate ceremonial version with an additional over-robe and headdress is shown at right, while a simpler yet beautifully elegant modern version of the hanbok is shown above. Both are richly embroidered.

Sadly (from my perspective), I could not find any second hand market for vintage hanbok. When these beautiful garments are worn out or out grown, they are simply recycled into gorgeous patchwork called pojagi. Traditionally these are used as dust covers or wrapping cloths, but now pojagi are highly valued by art collectors, who have frequently compared these textiles to compositions by European artists Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian. Two samples are shown below, but two samples can’t possibly do justice to the wide range of artistry that goes into these patchwork pieces.

Pojagi, traditional Korean patchwork and embroidery

The other form of Korean embroidery, Min-su was made for common people. Free from standardized rules, the works have a more whimsical naive quality and the bolder color schemes further add to its strength and charm. The introduction of woodblock printing for transferring designs allowed more rapid wide scale production of numerous small articles, even spools and thimbles were covered with small pieces of embroidered silk.

Shown below is a poster for a recent exhibition focused solely on traditional embroidered spools. Looking closely at the flat rectangular object in the lower left corner of the poster, you can see the coral silk thread wound between the yellow and crimson embroidered patches at either end of the spool. traditional Korean embroidery

In recent years, there has been greater interest in honoring Korea’s textile heritage. Several embroidery museums have been founded in Seoul. Indeed, Korean academics were the first to begin seriously investigating and documenting the histories of Asian embroideries. Dr. Yang Young Chung described the needle as a powerful tool that gave women the opportunity to improve their lives at a time when few opportunities existed for women. Using this tool, they enriched their lives. And as we encounter these remnants of their existence, our lives are also enriched.

Seoul’s delight (part 2)

On Sunday, the second day of our trip, we went to the studio of Brian Barry, a Buddhist Temple painter. I must admit that with all of the walking we had done the day before, my feet were still hurting all the way up to my bellybutton. So I was grateful that we hopped into a taxi for the journey across Seoul to Brian’s home and studio. It was a glorious fall day and the trees were flaunting their most perfect colors for us as we drove along the winding roads through some of the wealthiest and most scenic residential areas of northern Seoul.

It’s thought that Seoul’s earliest settlement may have been as long as 6,000 years ago and the geomancy of the mountains that ring the city were considered auspicious by the Chosun dynasty rulers, who chose the site as their capital. Modern Seoul has become home to over 10 million people, forcing an urban spread up the slopes of those surrounding mountains. Despite differences in the architecture and signs in a language I couldn’t read, the topography of our route reminded me of driving through parts of Marin county in California.

Brian Barry, Buddhist painterBrian’s studio is on the third floor of an apartment building nestled against a hillside that has been designated a national park. Thus on the one side he faces the immediate glories of the natural world and on the other the great urban sprawl, a perfect perch from which to reflect on cosmology in the modern world.

Brian Barry, Buddhist painterInitially, Brian came to Korea with the Peace Corps. In 1967, he was assigned to public health work, fighting TB in an underdeveloped country still reeling from the devastation of the Korean Civil war. As his love for the Korean people and culture grew, he stayed to study Buddhism, supporting himself as an interpreter. And decades later, one of those interpreting jobs for an American architect led him to focus on dancheong (colorful cosmic design patterns) painted on Korean temples.

Thereafter, Brian sought out Master Manbong (1910-2006), a dancheong specialist who had been designated transmitter of Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 48 of Korea, and then to this master artist, Brian expressed his ardent desire to learn Buddhist painting.

Although Master Manbong accepted this strange blue-eyed foreigner as one of his students, there was much doubt that a foreigner would ever be able to endure the hardships of the training regimen to learn the intricate skills of temple painting. Indeed, learning Buddhist painting proved to be extremely demanding, but Brian stuck it out for more than 20 years, continuing to learn from and serve Master Manbong until the Master’s death in 2006.

Over the years, Brian’s paintings have come to grace not only Korean temples, but also those in Thailand, Bangladesh, Russia and the U.S. His modern Buddhist paintings are also sold to private collectors. A fantastic story of an amazing life, you can read it in more detail by clicking on the link to his name above or by visiting Brian’s own site:

And to glimpse the world of dancheong that has so inspired Brian Barry for 20 years, I offer below a small collection of images from Buddhist temples in Korea.Korean painted temples Who could fail to be inspired by dancheong? I can foresee that even my humble sewing projects will have a future influence reflected in shades of teal and turquoise, richly punctuated by coral, gold and navy.

Seoul’s delight (part 1)

Last weekend I managed a brief getaway with three of my friends: Wendy Carroll from Australia, Kazuko Horiuchi from Chile and Judith Clancy, who was once upon a time from New Jersey. And our trip was indeed a delight. We flew off for a weekend in Seoul, South Korea.  Although I had been to the Korean port city of Pusan many many long years ago, I wasn’t really prepared for the melange of flavors and textures that greeted us on our arrival. We stayed at a traditional Korean inn called the Tea Guest House in the neighborhood of Insadong, which was a mix of traditional and modern buildings as shown by the images below. architecture in SeoulIt was only an hour and a half flight from Osaka to Seoul, but there was a two-hour trip from Kyoto to the airport early in the day and a two-hour bus-ride from the airport in Seoul to our guest house in Insadong. So we were a pretty weary group of travelers by the time we checked into our lodgings. But we quickly found our way down the street to celebrate our arrival with a feast of Korean sea food at a restaurant that had been recommended by one of Judith’s many friends.boy playing a street-side video game in Seoul

Seoul boasts of having the world’s best Wi-fi access and broadband connections with mind-boggling download speeds ranging up to 100Mbps, so it was amusing to see this young boy playing street-side video games in front of the local grocery store as we scouted out the city the next morning.riverside park in Seoul

In the center of Seoul, there’s a branch of the Han River that had been paved over during the rush to modernize. But with the 21st century preference for green cities, a major reclamation project was initiated to tear down the elevated freeway and restore river as a sunken riverside park for city residents to enjoy.

We spent most of Saturday walking around Dongdaemun Market, one of the major shopping areas in Seoul. When we set out in the morning, we blithely started off to the gold district to buy earrings…and arrived to find block after block after block lined with stores selling every manner of gold adornment. And though we could have easily spent the day there playing with gold till our heart’s content, we decided to press on deeper into the heart of Seoul’s shopping district. Or rather I should say, one of Seoul’s shopping districts. We never made it to Namdaemun Market, Seoul’s other older shopping district.

We walked for hours. There was a lamp district, where all the stores sold lighting, and a plastics section, where you could buy anything made of plastic. Sheet metal fabrication shops were clustered in another area we walked through. An area that seemed to sell only towels for blocks and blocks. And bedding covered another area.

For lunch, we finally stopped to eat at one of the food vending stalls that line the edges of the street. And again, the variety was enormous. The stall in the foreground offered chestnuts: roasted, candied and batter fried. Other stalls offered noodles, tempura or sausages. Still other stands sold bags of traditional sweets made from puffed grains and/or nuts sweetened by honey. These were so reminiscent of granola that we wondered if Korea had provided the original inspiration when that cereal was introduced to America in the 1960s. lunch-time food stalls in Seoulshopping in Seoul

Then finally we came to crafts and fabric. Was I in heaven?

When there was lace, there was lace galore. And ditto with yarns and buttons and ribbons and tassels. Each bit of craft had it’s own area with more choices than I could possible sort through or savor over if I’d had a month of Sundays. All in all, Dongdaemun Market is comprised of 20 shopping malls (with fashion segmented by floors), 30,000 stores, and around 50,000 wholesalers. If you want it, they’ve got it.

Sadly though, there was not enough time to drink it all in. We had barely found the embroidery section when it was time to go. The time allotted to our shopping spree was over. At least for the moment anyway. Having discovered that such delight is so close, I’m sure I’ll go back again.

And that was only Saturday, but it is enough to fill one blog-post for tonight. I’ll have to write about Sunday later.