Korean culture has blossomed during her long history. Although influenced by other Asian cultures, there is still a strong semblance of the creative Korean. Other countries, especially Japan, have even adopted Korean ideas and customs. Korea has spawned some great inventors. Its first printing systems predated Gutenberg's. The famous 'Turtle Ship' was the first ironclad battleship and the Korean alphabet, Han-gul, which was devised by a group of scholars in the 15th Century, was so effective that it remains largely unchanged. The reasons behind Korea's rapid economic development can be found in the Korean people's innate creativity.
Religion & Philosophy
Above all things, Buddhism stresses on human virtue, thus aiming to gain spiritual enlightenment in Korea. Buddhism has also played a powerful role in Korean art. A large number of excellent examples of Korean artwork and architecture can be found in Buddhist temples and paintings. On the other hand, Confucianism requires one's life to be regulated by natural laws. It was the major thought and basic system in the Choson Dynasty. Confucianism became the leading inspiration for many past artisans. Both Buddhism and Confucianism have played major roles in developing Korean culture.
Salp'uri is derived from shamanic ceremonies, which is aimed at spiritual cleansing. The word salp'uri means "eliding a murderous evil spirit" and the dance was actually intended to appease evil. Today, however, salp'uri is almost always performed for artistic purposes and is considered one of Korea's most creative traditional dance forms. With a long white scarf, a white hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and a graceful turn of her white-clad ankle, the dancer bobs and turns, thus creating a thousand fluid lines. This dance expresses the beauty and sadness of human emotions in both relationships and separations. Numerous instruments including a kayagum, a long twelve-stringed zither, a bamboo oboe, a long bowed zither, and an hourglass drum act as accompaniments. The music starts off slow and plaintive. The pace gradually quickens, thus building emotions, only to come to a quiet and thoughtful end.
The Monk's dance
Although the monk's dance is not part of any Buddhist ritual, it is a good example of Buddhism's influence on Korean culture. The dancer is dressed in a long robe topped with a bright red changsam, a mantle worn by Buddhist monks in ceremonies. This solo dance combines a number of elements, such as reverence, longing, and great energy. It is performed to the beat of a single drum that begins slowly. The tension then builds up as the dancer portrays the path to enlightenment in seven scenes.
Shamanism came about because of an ancient reverence for nature. It has influenced art, literature, music, and dance throughout Korean history. Shamanic rites are a fascinating conglomerate of all these cultural elements. The dance itself is extremely artistic because it is derived from the desire to express human emotion. However, they are also practical and public oriented, serving the needs of the community. Dances in shamanic rites are generally performed when the shaman greets spirits. Good spirits are welcomed and escorted to the "other world", whereas bad spirits are greeted with combative gestures and driven away. Jumping and turning are characteristic movements.
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