Press Gets Glimpse of Royal Texts Returned from France

      July 05, 2011 11:48

      Some books from an ancient royal archive retrieved from France earlier this year were unveiled to the press for the first time in 145 years on Monday. The National Museum of Korea showed five volumes out of the 297-volume "Oegyujanggak" archives detailing royal ceremonies and rites of the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910) and two of the original silk covers.

      The texts were returned to Korea in four shipments between April and May this year. They were looted by French troops during a botched invasion in 1866.

      The books unveiled Monday include the oldest one, titled "Pungjeongdogam Uigwe" (1630), illustrating royal festive occasions, as well as the finest examples of each category of royal ceremonial texts. Three of them are the only extant copies.

      A curator (left) shows returned Chosun royal texts at a storage room in the National Museum of Korea in Seoul on Monday.

      Some 286 out of the 297 returned texts were rebound by France's national library in the 1970s using western-style yellow-brown silk patterns. But it kept the original silk covers in dark greenish blue and has handed them over to the National Museum of Korea. "The silk covers are valuable records of the changes that occurred in the binding of Uigwe between the 17th to 19th centuries," said Yoo Sae-rom, a curator at the National Museum. "Further research will throw more light on the changes to the design and fabric."

      The texts will go on show at the National Museum from July 19 to Sept. 18. Museum Director Kim Young-na said a team of researchers specializing in history, fine arts and costume will conduct more detailed studies.

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