A remarkable, unconventional form of traditional Korean art, minhwa illustrates the common people’s freedom of expression and reveals their innermost thoughts and dreams. The folk painting of Korea the art work of the common people from bird and flower paintings, to the tiger and the dragon and the ten longevity symbols. The most absurd tiger in the world – Korea was once the land of the tigers. Even though they’re nearly completely extinct today, Korea used to have so many tigers that they might be found on nearly each one of the country’s many mountains. The tiger, which frequently came down to human villages to eat cattle and even harm people, was considered to be more than just an animal by ancient Koreans.
However in minhwa, the fearsome and sacred tiger is depicted as an absurd creaturepainted in unhindered and humorous sections to the point of being shocking. This is definitely not because minhwa were poorly done. The uninhibited, revolutionary manner wherein minhwa depicted the tiger is made clear whenever we compare it with the more traditional approach employed by Kim Hong Do, one of the Joseon Dynasty’s greatest artists, in his Tiger Under the Pine Tree. The minhwa’s humorous depictions helped the people overcome their fear of the tiger by giving this sacred being a friendlier demeanor and appearance. Essentially, minhwa is a genre of art created for the common people. เสือมังกร
Encompassing a wide range of subjects and methods of expression, minhwa were created through a strong adherence to the symbols and events of the every day lives of Koreans. Consequently, they’re heavily invested with a uniquely Korean psyche with regards to both content and philosophy. Even though minhwa lack the elegance and refined beauty of traditional Korean paintings of the artistic establishment, their humorous and simple format as well as their unconventional layout and bold colours are, nonetheless, important characteristics of the Korean aesthetic. Though minhwa are roughly drawn, their strong lines, vivid colours, bold, unconventional layouts, wit, humour, and optimistic spirit, tales of love and exaggeration, and mocking of formality, and free technique expressed in the compositions of flowers, insects and animals combine to create the philosophy of art, and the life force itself, of Koreans.
Minhwa are alive – Minhwa, which once occupied a central position in the every day lives of the common people, can now only be seen in museums and in traditional handicrafts. Nobody hangs paintings of tigers or the ten longevity symbols in their homes anymore. Does this then mean that the minhwa has completely disappeared? Not at all. Minhwa are reborn in the modern era in images that decorate the sidewalk walls of old neighborhoods, car stickers, cell phone cases, and school supplies, and are available in spirit in t-shirts decorated with popular cartoon characters.