Research File: Paintings on Korean Architecture

When starting my initial drawings I noticed that I was particularly interested in the patterns on the palaces. I was told, when visiting, that the patterns were hand painted and held a lot of meaning. I wanted to find out more, upon researching I found a wealth of information. The art of painting the buildings is called Dancheong which literally means red and green. The painting is not only decorative but also helps prevent the wood from rotting. The bright colours were also believed to protect a building from evil spirits and to also emphasise  the authority of its residents. I found the palaces where highly decorated, covered in many colours and patterns.

The five basic colours are used to represent different things.

  • Blue: The East, Dragons, Spring, Wood.
  • Red: The South, Birds, Summer, Fire.
  • White: The West, Tigers, Autumn, Gold.
  • Black: The North, Hyeonmu, Winter, Water.
  • Yellow: The Center, Between Seasons, Earth.

The incorporation of the five elements epitomises the ancient Korean desire for stability and peace in the present life and a rewarding after life.


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