Stories of Old Rulers, the Tailoring Tool
‘Bang Won Pyeong Jik: Tailoring the houses’ at the Hanyang University Museum
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'Bang Won Pyeong Jik,' which means Bang (方) for Square, Won (圓) for Circle, Pyeong (平) for Horizontal, and Jik (直) for Vertical, is a term describing a fundamental architectural principle -- that a building should be a proper harmony of a square, circle, horizontal, and vertical. The term is also the title of the collaborative exhibition by the Hanyang University Museum and Hanyang's Far East Architectural History Lab. The exhibition's full title, ‘Bang Won Pyeong Jik: Tailoring the houses’ is currently being held at the Hanyang University Museum from October 10th to the 31st. As its title indicates, the main theme of the exhibition is the tool which forms the basis of all architecting and tailoring, the ruler. The exhibition holds significance as it commemorates the 80th anniversary of Hanyang University as well as the Department of Architecture, the major that has been with the school from its establishment.
The exhibition presents a wide collection of rulers used by architectural artisans from ancient times to present, from Eastern to Western. Rulers of great cultural value can be seen at the exhibiton, including an old dangcheok (a ruler used in the Tang dynasity), rulers used in ancient Korea from the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties, as well as a nine-meter ruler of Shin Eung-su, the master carpenter of Korea, whose ruler was used for the repair of Seoul’s Gwanghwamun. The exhibition also tells many interesting facts about rulers, such as interpreting dreams about a ruler, how the standards of measuring have changed over time, how kings of the past tried to ‘rule’ through rulers, and even a picture of how tall Kwanwoo, a nine-cheok human from the Records of the Three Kindgoms, actually was. By showing the meaning and the value which rulers have held throughout history, the exhibition invites its visitors to realize the significance of a mundane tool -- the ruler.
Professor Han dong-soo (Department of Architecture), the head of the Far East Architectural History Lab, explained that the idea for the exhibition came from a simple proposition he once made to one of his students. “There was a student who did not have a hobby, so one day I recommended him to try and collect rulers. After two years, he had gathered about 200 rulers. It felt like a waste to not put them on display,” said Han. “The ruler is the first tool to be used for any work, whether it be for tailoring clothes or building a house. Thus, it holds something special for architects."
The exhibition, which is free of charge, will be held until October 31st, 2019. For its visitors, Han has encouraged us to think about the history and the wisdom behind the mundane tool called the ruler. “Throughout history, rulers have played an important role, far more than just measuring. They encapsulate the wisdom of the past architects, even as far as embodying the absolute power of a kingdom. It will be of much fun to consider these aspects with your visit," said Han.
Lim Ji-woo firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Ju-eun
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