Jo Dec 8, 2023
Our country has a huge number of cultural relics and remains worth boasting to the world.
The 80 000 blocks of the Complete Collection of Buddhist Scriptures, which is on show in Pohyon Temple on Mt. Myohyang, is one of the precious national treasures demonstrating the advanced level of typography in our country.
The 80 000 blocks of the Complete Collection of Buddhist Scriptures are a systematic Buddhist library of Buddhist scriptures and the books concerned with Buddhism.
As it was compiled during the Koryo dynasty, it is also called the Koryo Tripitaka.
The very first complete collection of Buddhist scriptures had already been born in our country in the first half of the eleventh century but it was burnt away by foreign aggressors.
The present collection was completed in over 1 530 kinds and 6 793 volumes from 1236 to 1251.
It is permeated with the creative wisdom of people including lots of typographers. The excellent typography employed for it makes it one of the proud cultural legacies of our people and the world’s cultural assets.
In those days, the people and handicraftsmen managed to make more than 80 000 blocks of pakdal trees and birch trees.
Each block has 23 lines with 14 letters each. Wooden ties are attached at both ends of blocks to avoid twist and the surfaces are lacquered to keep worms away.
The wood blocks are elaborate enough to resemble a fine sculpture.
The collection, a precious cultural legacy of our nation, shows the level of development and promotion of woodblock printing. It serves as a material evidence demonstrating that firm technical foundations for invention and use of metal types for the first time in the world were laid in Koryo at that time.
The collection is now recognized as the most perfect standard collection of all the old collections of Buddhist scriptures existing in the world.
The complete collection is shining brilliantly as our priceless national treasure and as a world cultural legacy, proudly boasting of the wisdom and resourcefulness of our nation.
Jo Dec 6, 2023
Janggu dance, one of the typical folk dances of our country, is rich in national colour. Dancers do janggu dance with a janggu, a national instrument, on their shoulders.
Originated from the appearance and wide playing of janggu in our country, janggu dance has a long history.
The murals in Jiban Five Tombs of Koguryo show some dancers dancing and playing the janggu.
It indicates that janggu was already used in dancing as a prop and janggu dance was widely spread in the Koguryo age.
Later, janggu dance with such a long history became more fashionable with development of a peasant dance in the latter half of the feudal Joson dynasty, when playing skills and dancing skills were combined.
Janggu dance was found in several folk games and dances as well as in a peasant dance. In modern ages, it was made artistic by professional dancers and put on the stage, too.
Janggu dance that was loved by our people for a long period of time was reproduced in the form of a solo dance to be congenial to the aesthetic tastes of the era under the wise guidance of our Party.
As janggu serves as a main prop of janggu dance, skills in playing the janggu are given great importance in the dance composition.
With a variety of beating techniques and rich and sophisticated tones, janggu has a high possibility of expression. Therefore, janggu dance produces unique descriptive charm with the beating techniques of janggu and artistic rhythms of a dance combined harmoniously with each other.
Under the scrupulous guidance of our Party, janggu dance has been improved into a great diversity from a solo to an ensemble, a group dance, a large group dance, etc. and it has now become a dance of strong national coloring that preserves the flavor of folk dances.
Jo Dec 1, 2023
The winter solstice is the time of the year with the longest night and the shortest day.
It usually falls on the 21st or 22nd of December every year.
On the winter solstice the sun rises the latest and sets the earliest.
The true noon in Pyongyang is 12:35 and the sun’s altitude is 27.6°.
After the winter solstice, the night gets shorter gradually in all regions (the northern hemisphere) while the day becomes longer until the summer solstice.
From ancient times, our ancestors celebrated the winter solstice, regarding it as the small New Year’s Day (called Ase).
On the day people used to cook tongjijuk (special adzuki-bean gruel taken on the winter solstice) over which they looked back upon the year thinking of themselves growing a year older. They usually shared it with neighbours to promote harmonious relations.
Specially prepared for the gruel were glutinous rice balls which mean good luck in the coming year.
This reflects both the love of mothers who want to please their children and the sincerity of housewives wishing every family member good luck.
People have called it Aedongji if it falls in early November by the lunar calendar and Rodongji if it comes later.
It has been said that Aedongji brings a hard winter while Rodongji makes a mild one.
Jo Nov 15, 2023
Among the valuable cultural legacies created by our nation is Sungryong Hall in Central District, Pyongyang City.
Sungryong Hall is a shrine first built in the fifteenth century during the feudal Joson dynasty. It was originally used for a memorial service for King Tangun, the founder of Ancient Joson, which was the first ancient state in our country’s history. Later, memorial services for King Tongmyong were also held here. The present building was rebuilt in the eighteenth century.
The original hall was made up of a main hall, two-kan servant’s quarters to the east and west with two one-kan doors each and a three-kan gate. Most of them were destroyed by the Japanese imperialist aggressors, with only the main hall and the gate survived. During the Fatherland Liberation War, they were badly damaged by the US imperialists’ barbarous bombing raids. Sungryong Hall is now restored to its original state. It is a valuable architectural legacy reflecting the architecture of the days of feudal Joson dynasty.
Jo Nov 11, 2023
A changsaenap is a peculiar woodwind instrument based on a saenap (a Korean brass wind instrument). It was born in the course of development of national instruments under the wise leadership of our Party.
It satisfactorily preserves the features of a saenap in terms of shape and sound quality, supporting the characteristics peculiar to our national instruments.
On the pipe are some finger holes for whole tones and half tones, and some keys.
Compared to a saenap, a changsaenap makes a wider range of and softer sounds.
Such characteristics make execution of folk trills, staccatos, vibratos, etc. successful. It is widely used as a solo instrument.
In addition, it highlights national characteristics in orchestral music and ensembles, and it is effective in playing appealing pieces.
Jo Nov 9, 2023
“Taedongjiji”, also called “Taedongbangyogo”, is a geography book of our country. It was written in the middle of the nineteenth century by Kim Jong Ho, a geographer and cartographer of those days. It is in 32 volumes and 15 books.
It was written at the same time as his republication of “Taedongyo Map” in 1864 reflecting the demand of the times concerning the development of commerce and transportation in our country in the nineteenth century.
The book contains a detailed description of about 40 items by counties and districts such as the statistics of population, disposition and power of army, kind and number of ships, customs, taxes, etc., all of which were impossible to show on the map.
The first part of the book shows a table of contents and a list of 65 references. Volume 1 is about the capital. Volumes 2 to 24 deal with the geography of 8 provinces of the country. Volume 25 covers mountains and streams and Volume 26 is about national defence. Volumes 27 and 28 are on transportation and communication each. Volumes from 29 to 32 give the historical geography of territory changed over the period from the ancient times to the Koryo dynasty.
The book is organized in a new system on the basis of the new practical data the author obtained from his field surveys over a long period of time and a great number of references.
In terms of system and description, “Taedongjiji” could not pass the limit of feudal stereotype and facts enumeration but it still serves as one of our country’s geographical legacies with its own characteristics as a modern geography book.
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