Caja PDF

Comparta fácilmente sus documentos PDF con sus contactos, la web y las redes sociales.

Compartir un archivo PDF Gestor de archivos Caja de instrumento Buscar PDF Ayuda Contáctenos



The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding .pdf



Nombre del archivo original: The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding.pdf
Título: untitled

Este documento en formato PDF 1.4 fue generado por 3B2 Total Publishing System 8.07p/W Unicode / iText 4.2.0 by 1T3XT, y fue enviado en caja-pdf.es el 06/07/2018 a las 22:53, desde la dirección IP 189.146.x.x. La página de descarga de documentos ha sido vista 504 veces.
Tamaño del archivo: 1.1 MB (27 páginas).
Privacidad: archivo público




Descargar el documento PDF









Vista previa del documento


Journal of the Institute of Conservation

ISSN: 1945-5224 (Print) 1945-5232 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rcon20

The history and characteristics of traditional
Korean books and bookbinding
Minah Song
To cite this article: Minah Song (2009) The history and characteristics of traditional
Korean books and bookbinding, Journal of the Institute of Conservation, 32:1, 53-78, DOI:
10.1080/19455220802630743
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/19455220802630743

Published online: 30 Sep 2010.

Submit your article to this journal

Article views: 3757

View related articles

Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rcon20

Journal of the Institute of Conservation
Vol. 32, No. 1, March 2009, 53–78

Minah Song

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean
books and bookbinding
Keywords
Korean books; bookbinding; paper; woodblock; movable type

Until the middle of the twentieth century the history of Korea had
not been as well known in the West as that of China and Japan.
Sometimes, in museums and libraries outside Korea, Korean
artefacts have been mistakenly placed within Chinese or Japanese
collections. Such confusion has occurred because all three neighbouring countries share much common culture and religion.
Ancient Chinese has been used in Korea and Japan in all official,
educational and scholarly documents for a long time even after the
invention of native characters. It had been used as a written
language in Korea until the introduction of idu (吏 ) script in the
sixth century.1 All East Asian books share a similar cultural heritage,
not only regarding the style of the book but also the contents,
making it more difficult to distinguish the true origins of Korean
books and art works. Nonetheless, there are several factors that
differentiate Korean, Chinese and Japanese books and make each of
them unique to their own culture. They may be subtle but should
not be ignored. This research aims to present some specific nuances
that may be helpful when working with Korean artefacts.
This study discusses the development of Korean bookbinding in
relation to the evolution of bookbinding in China, where most
innovation originated. The main part of this article presents several
factors that distinguish Korean books from those of its neighbours; it
also sheds some contextual light on their emergence. It looks at the
bindings, covers, paper and printing techniques of Korean books
and sets them in a historical context.
Chinese precursors of Korean bookbinding
Several writing materials such as wooden tablets, smooth slips of
bamboo and silk were in common use in East Asia before paper
became the main medium for books. The Chinese, as well as
Koreans and Japanese, have no record of using animal skins as a
support for writing.2 Cai Lun (蔡倫, ?–121?) is commonly believed to
have invented paper around 105, but it has been recently established
that paper made of hemp (Cannabis sativa) fibre was used as early as
the first century BC. Cai Lun could be credited with the manufacture
of high-quality paper made from paper mulberry (Broussonetia
papyrifera) fibre.3
It can be said that East Asian bookbinding has been continually
evolving. However, a chapter in bookbinding history does not mean
that a selected style started, flourished and vanished over a certain
period of time to be replaced by different styles. What can be
observed is a dominance of chosen formats, usually because of their
(Received 15 January 2008; Accepted 6 May 2008)
ISSN 1945-5224 print/ISSN 1945-5232 online
# 2009 Icon, The Institute of Conservation
DOI: 10.1080/19455220802630743
http://www.informaworld.com

1 The term ‘idu’ in this article refers to a
group of various archaic writing systems representing Korean phonology
through Chinese characters.

2 E. Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding: A Study of its Evolution
and Techniques’, Asian Library Studies
19 (1983): 10.
3 The remnants of paper were found in
Shenxi in 1957 and have been dated no
later than the period of Wu Di (
ruled 140–87 BC). T. Tsien, ‘Raw
Materials for Old Papermaking in
China’, Journal of the American Oriental
Society 93 (1973): 511, 513. See also X.
Zhentang and Y. Ding, A Manual of
Traditional Restoration Techniques, trans.
David Helliwell, ‘The Repair and
Binding of Old Chinese Books’, The
East Asian Library Journal, VIII (1998):
33.

54

4 Martinique, ‘Chinese
Bookbinding’, 3.

Song

Traditional

5 They include the earliest attested
manuscripts of existing texts such as
the I Ching (Yijing 易經), Tao Te Ching
(Daodejing 道德經), Strategies of the
Warring States and works of Gan De (甘
德, active 4th century BC) and Shi Shen
(石申, active 4th century BC). The revised
edition of Mawangdui texts was published in full-form characters with photographs of the manuscripts in Guojia
Wenwuju Gu Wenxioan Yanjiushi (国家
文物局古文献研究室, Chinese Ministry
of Education Research Group on
Ancient Literary Sources), Mawangdui
Hanmu boshu (马王堆汉墓帛书, Silk
manuscripts from the Han tombs at
Mawangdui) Vol. 1 (Beijing: Wenwu
Chubanshe, 1980–1984), 4.
6 Hunansheng Museum, ‘Changsha
Mawangdui er sanhao hanmu fajue
jianbao’ (长沙马王堆二三号汉墓发掘简
报, Tombs two and three of Han
dynasty at Mawangdui, Changsha:
Report on excavation) Wenwu 7
(Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe, 1974),
39–48; M. Loewe, Ways to Paradise: The
Chinese Quest for Immortality (London:
Unwin Hyman, 1979), 29–46.
7 C. Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, http://
idp.bl.uk/education/bookbinding/
bookbinding.a4d (accessed 7 February
2007).
8 Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding’,
5–6;
Tsien,
‘Raw
Materials’, 331.
9 F. Starr, Korean Buddhism: History,
Condition, Art: Three Lectures (Boston:
Marshall Jones Company, 1918), 66–96;
J. Portal, Korea: Art and Archaeology
(London: British Museum Press, 2000).
10 The process started with Damjing (曇
徵, 579–631), a Korean Buddhist monk
who introduced papermaking to Japan
in 610; Tsien, ‘Raw Materials’, 331.
Forced relocation of Korean artisans
took place ‘during the Japanese invasion of 1592–8, many technicians and
their fonts were taken back to Japan
which was starting its own movabletype printing’ (Tsien, 327). On the other
hand, western paper equipment was
brought to Korea from Japan by a
Korean government official in 1884; S.
Lee, Urihanji [Korean Paper] (Seoul:
Hyeonamsa, 2002), 82.

convenience and durability, in relation to the general development
of bookbinding. In historical references, the techniques and
materials used for binding were rarely mentioned, being considered
too common to note, as opposed to those related to mounting
paintings or similar ‘higher’ genres.4
Before paper was widely used, manuscripts were written on a
wide range of materials, ceramics, shoulder blades of oxen or
buffaloes, turtle shells, various wooden materials and silk. The
earliest important group of Chinese texts on silk are those from the
Mawangdui excavation (馬王堆) found at the site where, at the two
saddle-shaped hills, tombs from the Western Han dynasty (206 BC–
5
AD 24) were located. The Mawangdui Silk Texts (Mawangdui Boshu
馬王堆帛書) dated around 183 BC, are Chinese philosophical and
medical works written on separate silk leaves.6
The earliest bound manuscripts in China were written on wooden
or bamboo slips bound together with strings called jiance (簡策). The
slips were laid down flat, each of them parallel to each other so that
the manuscript could be properly read when unrolled. For storage
and handling the bound slips would be rolled up.7 The wooden slips
were used for writing during the Shang-Yin dynasty (1766–1123 BC).
By the time of the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) wooden slips ceased
to be the predominant writing material, although they were still in
use until the Northern and Southern dynasties (420–588). Wooden
slips were gradually replaced by silk and paper over the Han
dynasty as the main writing materials. Both were more convenient
to carry and store than wood even though silk was more expensive.8
Evolution of Korean bookbinding
China’s influence on Korea and Japan greatly predates and continues
through their emergence as independent, fully functional countries.
Numerous researchers from Frederick Starr to Jane Portal have
attempted to define Korean art and to explain how its artefacts differ
from those of China and Japan.9 It is possible to see differences in
specific cases, although often the differences are very small, and it is not
an easy task for an audience unfamiliar with Korean artefacts to grasp
their unique qualities. The many significant similarities in both culture
and structure of these three countries have been intertwined thanks to
their geography, and the importance of Buddhism and Confucianism.
Korea was sometimes inside, sometimes outside the Chinese tributary
system; it was occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and despite the
complicated political relationship between Korea and Japan there was
a regular flow of Korean artisans to the Japanese islands.10
The development of Korean books demonstrates how new crafts
and technologies evolved using locally available materials, responding to specific social and religious demands. For this reason, even
though Korean bookbinding followed the evolution of its Chinese
predecessors, details of Korean book formats, book paper and
printing techniques have a distinctive style (Table 1).
Scroll (Korean: gweonjabon 卷子本 or gweonchukjang 卷軸裝;
Chinese: juanzhouzhuang 卷軸裝)
Silk scrolls in China before the Han dynasty were mostly made in
standard segments, with each piece of silk a similar size of two feet

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

55

Table 1. Key dates in the evolution of Korean bookbinding.
Main periods

Event

Main works

Three Kingdoms 57 BC–668 AD

Papermaking began (around third century)

A piece of paper found in an ancient tomb,
Chehyupchong (108 BC–313 AD)

North and South States 668–892
(Unified Silla 668–935 Balhae 698–926)
Goryeo 918–1392

Scroll format began
Woodblock printing
Concertina binding began (mid-Goryeo)
Whirlwind binding began
Butterfly binding began
Wrapped-back binding began
Side-stitched binding began
Movable type invented

Joseon 1392–1910

Side-stitched binding predominant

Japanese occupation 1910–1945

Western binding began

The oldest extant printed manuscript, ‘Dharani
Sutra’ (751)
‘Lotus Sutra’ (1388)
‘Shurangama Sutra’(1370)

The earliest extant book printed with metal type,
‘Selected Teachings of Buddhist Sages and Zen
Masters’ (Jikji) (1377)
‘Instruction of Hangul’ (1446)
‘Korean Encyclopedia’ (1798)

two inches high and about 40 Chinese feet long.11 When there was
not enough text to fill the whole length, the roll was cut where the
text finished. If more space was required to complete the book,
additional silk was sewn to the scroll. At the end of a scroll, a
wooden dowel or bamboo slip was attached, possibly a remnant of
the earlier bound wooden or bamboo slips.12 A simpler explanation
suggests that a dowel made it easier to roll and unroll the scroll.
Paper became the predominant writing material during the third
century. The scroll remained a major style of manuscripts through
the Tang dynasty (618–917).13 Extant scrolls made in this early
period are very rare. The Diamond Sutra (858) in the British Library
collection presents a particularly good example of scroll format,
being also the earliest dated book woodblock printed in China.14 The
Diamond Sutra scroll consists of seven sections; each section was
printed from a single block, together they form a 5m-long scroll.
Scrolls in Korean are known as gweojabon or durumari (hangul:
). As in China, the scroll was the earliest book format in
Korean traditional bookbinding used widely until the Goryeo dynasty.
The remark by Uicheon (義天, 1055–1101) in A Collection of Writings by
Buddhist Teacher Daegak (Korean: Daegakguksa moonjip 大覺國師文集)
that, ‘Our ancestors produced 5000 scrolls and secretly stored them’
implies that scrolls had existed as written documents for a long time.15
Originally, a Korean paper scroll would have been made by
adhering a number of paper sheets to form one long sheet without a
backing (Fig. 1). Some of the early scrolls were later lined with a
paper backing as a repair. A dowel was attached to the end of the
scroll and a narrow bamboo slip to the right edge. A cord in the form
of woven ribbon was inserted next to the bamboo slip, at the centre
of the paper, to be tied around the rolled scroll. Numbers were
written, or inscriptions were stamped or signed where the sheets of
paper were adhered for correct collation when the scroll was
assembled and to avoid confusion in case the sheets became
detached. Attached to the right edge of the verso of the scroll, there
was an additional rectangular paper cover called checkgawe (hangul:
) or pyo (Chinese: biao 標) to protect the scroll. At the end, a
cord was fastened to tie the scroll. The checkgawe was an undyed

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

11 Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding’, 11. In Chinese historical
literature the Han foot (Chinese: chi 尺),
is given as equalling 0.231 metres (or
9.095 inches); see Yu Huan (魚豢),
Weilue (魏略, Brief Account of the Wei
Dynasty) composed between 239 and
265; A.F.P. Hulsewe´, ‘Han measures’,
T’oung pao, XLIX, Livre 3 (Leiden: Brill,
1961), 206–7. A draft of a new translation by J.E. Hill is available at http://
depts.washington.edu/silkroad/texts/
weilue/weilue.html (accessed 20 May
2008).
12 W. Li, ‘Chung-kuo Shu-chi chuangting, chih pien-chien’ [A Sketch of the
Evolution of Chinese Bookbinding],
T’u-shu-kuan-hsueh chi-k’an [Library
Science Quarterly] 3 (1929): 543, after
Martinique,
‘Chinese
Traditional
Bookbinding’, 11.
13 Helliwell, ‘Repair and Binding’, 34;
Martinique,
‘Chinese
Traditional
Bookbinding’, 14.
14 All the sections of Diamond Sutra
can be viewed online, http://www.bl.
uk/onlinegallery/ttp/sutra/accessible/
introduction.html (accessed 4 January
2008).
15 Uicheon
, Daegakguksa moonjip
, chapter 4, after H.
Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak [Korean
Bibliographical
Studies]
(Seoul:
Mineumsa, 2006), 101.

56

Song

Fig. 1 Avatamsaka Sutra (Korean: Chojobon daebanggwangbul hwaeomgyong jubon 初雕本大方廣
佛華嚴經周本), 11–12th century, ink on paper, 28.5cm646.3 (624 sheets), Samseong Museum
of Publishing. # Cultural Heritage Administration.

16 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 101–3.

17 Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding’, 12–13.

18 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 103.

19 Portal, Korea, 68–9.

paper or silk for scrolls of general purpose, but for Buddhist scrolls it
was made of dark blue or brown coloured paper. In the Chinese
tradition, it was made of purple gauze lined with paper or thin
brocade. The cord tied to the bamboo slip (Korean: pyodae 標帶), was
generally made of either undyed or dyed monochromatic silk or
hemp, but for more valuable scrolls, three-colour silk was used. The
sheets of paper were coloured yellow using extract from the outer
bark of the Amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense, Korean:
hwangbyeok 黃蘗); this acted both as an insect repellent and as
decoration.16
As in China, the label was attached to the end of the dowel, the
colour of which was part of a classification system used in Chinese
imperial libraries, as were the colours of cords and specific ends
attached to wooden dowels.17 For example, the classics of
Confucianism were tied with yellow cord and had white ivory
dowels and red ivory labels, while documents on history had jadecoloured cord, blue ivory dowels and green ivory labels. The same
system was used in Joseon dynasty Korea.18
The existing examples of early Korean scrolls were made in the
Unified Shilla period and are exclusively Buddhist texts. Shilla
established peaceful relations with the Tang dynasty. Between the
eighth and ninth century many books, works of art and luxury
goods were imported from China. Korean monks and students
travelled to China to study Buddhism and Confucianism. Shilla, as
well as Balhae (698–926, a kingdom in southern Manchuria founded
by former Goguryo and Tungusic people) maintained active contact
with Japan.19
Buddhism was the dominant religion at this time extending from
the Court to the general populace. During this time Woncheuk (圓
測, 613–696) travelled to Tang China and translated sutras while
Hyecho (慧超, 704–787) went to India and wrote Record of a Journey to

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

57

the Five Kingdoms of India (Korean: Wang ocheonchukguk jeon 往五天竺
國傳).
The earliest known extant woodblock printed Buddhist text on a
paper scroll, Dharani Sutra (Korean: Mugujeonggwang daedaranigyeong, 無垢淨光大陀羅尼經), found during the excavation of the
Sokka pagoda (釋迦塔, Sakyamuni pagoda) at Bulguk temple (佛國
寺) in Gyeonju in 1966, has been dated to before the construction of
the temple in 751. Other important examples include Shilla
Avatamsaka Sutra (Korean: Shilla baekjimookseo daebanggwangbul
hwaeomgyeong, 新羅白紙墨書大方廣佛華嚴經, 755), and Shilla
Diamond Sutra (Korean: Shilla hwangjimookseo gumgangmyeonggyeong, 新羅黃紙墨書 剛明經, 858).
As with Chinese scrolls and bookbindings, Korean scrolls became
reserved for paintings or calligraphy rather than for manuscripts
with the emergence of later bookbinding styles. Occasionally, the
scroll format was still represented in court documents in the early
Joseon dynasty, an example of which can be seen in the handwritten
scroll on paper, Aristocratic Titles Awarded by King (Korean:
Jinchungguiganguk won jong gongshinlok gwon, 陳忠貴開國原從功臣錄
券, 1395).
Chinese pothi binding (Punjabi: pothi; Chinese: fanjia zhuang 梵
夾裝)
The Indian pothi consisted of several sheets of dried talipot palm leaf
cut into narrow rectangular shapes and stacked on top of each
other.20 The leaves were bound with a single string or with a couple
of strings that passed through holes either through the middle or
near both ends of the manuscript. The wooden boards were placed
on both sides of the book to protect the manuscript from physical
damage. Even though there are no records of pothi binding being
used in Korea, the potential impact this style had on the
development of bookbinding in East Asia makes it necessary to
analyse its structure briefly to better understand Korean bindings.21
The talipot palm leaf was not readily available in China, where it
became naturally replaced by wood and bamboo, materials already
used for writing in the traditional format of bound slips. Since
wooden and bamboo slips are not nearly as thin and flat as the
talipot leaf, it was not convenient to stack them.
When the first Buddhist pothi books were introduced to China in
the third and fourth centuries, paper had already been used for two
to three hundred years. It still took almost three hundred years for
Chinese artisans to make their own pothi. The reason might have
been the different qualities of paper which were neither suitable nor
durable enough for pothi binding. It has been suggested that a
binding technique similar to pothi, a stack of loose leaves without
thread, had existed in China, but it seems it had never become a
common format.22
There are many Chinese examples of paper books in pothi format
in the Dunhuang collections at the British Library. Chinese pothi are
wider than the Indian version, have one hole for the string and lack
the protective boards.23 It is hard to say exactly how much impact
the pothi had on the development of Chinese bookbinding, but it

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

20 Pothi, the Punjabi form of the
Sanskrit pustaka (‘book’) in this article
is used according to Chinnery (see note
7), and describes a bound palm-leaf
book.

21 The pothi palm-leaf manuscripts had
been popular in India, Ceylon, Nepal,
Burma, Thailand, Java and Bali;
Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional Bookbinding’, 16–17. For an example of a
Tibetan loose-leaf pothi, found in
Dunhuang Library cave bound in bundles along with manuscripts in other
languages, see IDP Newsletter 17 (Winter
2000/1),
http://idp.bl.uk/archives/
news17/idpnews_17.a4d
and
IDP
Newsletter 29 (Spring 2007) http://idp.
bl.uk/archives/news29/idpnews_29.a4d
(accessed 21 May 2008).

22 Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, 11; see also
http://wwworg.ncl.edu.tw/rarebook/
name.htm (accessed 21 May 2008).

23 Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, 11–13.

58

Song

certainly played an important role as one of the formats sharing the
concept of separate leaves held loosely together.

24 Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding’,
20;
Chinnery,
‘Bookbinding’, 17; Helliwell, ‘Repair
and Binding’, 34.

25 B. Yoo, ‘Joogkook koseo jangjunggo—A Study on the Binding Style
of the Old Books in China’, Seojihak
Yeongu 19 (2000): 13–14.

26 Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, 17–18; Yoo,
‘Joogkook’, 13–16.

27 Yoo, ‘Joogkook’, 23–4.

28 Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding’, 21.

Concertina binding (Korean: jeolcheopjang 折帖裝; Chinese: zhezi
zhuang 摺子裝, jingzhe zhuang 經摺裝)
It is believed that the concertina binding or folded sutra binding
appeared or even had already been widely used in late Tang
dynasty China.24 The origin of the style is not known, but it
extensively influenced the production of Buddhists texts in
Southeast and East Asia.
There are different opinions regarding the origins of the folded
binding. Most modern researchers seem to believe the fold binding
had derived from the scroll; others have assumed that it originated
from Chinese pothi.25 The scroll as a writing support had obvious
inconveniences. It was a cumbersome, time-consuming task to
unfurl it for reading and then roll it back for storage and
transportation. The notion of the concertina binding being derived
from the scroll format of Buddhist texts gave the binding its other
name, ‘the folded sutra binding’. The theory that sees the pothi style
behind the invention points to the characteristic of attaching and
folding separate leaves in order to avoid losing parts of the fragile
structure. As a result, Chinese pothi books would have determined
the physical appearance of a concertina binding.
There are certain difficulties regarding the pothi theory. First, the
pothi books in China were never very popular even though Buddhist
scholars sometimes used both the Chinese pothi format and the
concertina format.26 Second, the nature of the concertina binding
seems to have already been in existence in Chinese paper scrolls
where several leaves were glued to each other, eventually forming a
long structure recreated later in folded sutra binding. The notion of
pothi as a possible source of the folding process does not cover the
main controversy—the leaves of a pothi book were stacked one on
top of another instead of facing each other as in a folded sutra
binding, i.e. in the pothi stack recto faces verso while in concertina
binding recto faces recto and verso faces verso. Yet we should notice
a strong possibility that the ‘mobility’ of the pothi book might have
inspired the search for a similar solution within the scroll format.
It seems most likely that the concertina binding evolved directly
from the scroll. The simple process of folding the scroll back and
forth forms separate pages, enabling readers to flick easily through
the text without laborious unrolling and rolling. It does not seem
possible at present to reconstruct clearly the transformation from
scroll to concertina binding, but it is worth pointing out the existence
of concertina books where the writers and printers show no concern
for leaving spaces (margins) for folds as if the text was written on a
scroll.27 There are also well-known concertina recreations of former
scrolls done in a similar manner; two examples of which are the set
of seven chapters of the Lotus Sutra found in Shanghai, and the
collection of fragments of a commentary on the Lankavatara Sutra
found in Dunhuang, now in the British Library.28
Korean concertina binding style was originally used in the middle
of the Goryeo Period and preserved through the Joseon dynasty. A
representative concertina binding is the hand-copied sutra (Korean:

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

sagyong, 寫經). This genre of illuminated, handwritten copies of
Buddhist sutras executed during the Goryeo period was highly
appreciated for its supreme technique and artistry. Hand-copied
sutras were usually produced with high-quality paper, dyed an
indigo blue and written or illuminated with gold or silver. In some
specific cases white or yellow paper was used in both scroll and
concertina formats.
Goryeo illuminated manuscripts were held in great esteem in
China and Japan. In Muromachi Japan (1336–1573), Korean sutras
were highly sought-after treasures. They were also demanded as a
tribute by Yuan China (1271–1368). Specific accounts in the ‘The
History of Goryeo’ (Korean: Goryeosa, 高麗史, 1396) describe Korean
sutras of the Goryeo period being sent to China.29 Most of the extant
examples are now stored in Japanese Buddhist temples and are
rarely seen.30
From the Joseon period, Buddhist sutras continued to be the major
subject for concertina bindings. Gradually, when Confucianism
became predominant in official philosophy and education,
Buddhism lost some of its influence and the large production of
sutras dramatically decreased.
The concertina binding was also often used for rubbings and
albums of calligraphy and paintings called seohwacheop (書畵帖).
Examples
include,
‘Collection
of
Joseon
Rubbings’
(Haedongmyeongjeok, 海東名蹟, sixteenth century) and ‘Calligraphy
Collection by Kim Jeong-hui’ (Kim Jeong-hui pilseocheop, 金正喜筆書
帖, mid-nineteenth century), a study of Han dynasty characters from
bronze mirrors.31
Whirlwind binding (Korean: seonpoongyeop 旋風葉; Chinese
xuanfeng zhuang 旋風裝, longlin zhuang 龍鱗裝)
The whirlwind binding may be the most confusing bookbinding
style, not only because the name does not clearly indicate the style
but also because there are several different opinions about what this
binding format actually means. Because there are not enough
practical examples, researchers can only guess at its form using
descriptions in historical sources. Since books in this binding style
were generally very rare, it is likely that it was a transitory style
applied only for a short period, possibly around the Tang dynasty.32
A large percentage of books in the whirlwind binding might have
been rebound later during the Song dynasty (960–1279) when many
other binding styles had developed.
It is worth noting that the scarce historical sources that mention
whirlwind binding are rather obscure in their descriptions, to the
point where occasionally the same text can lead to different
interpretations and simple misunderstandings. There is general
agreement that the name of the binding has something to do with
wind and some researchers have interpreted the wind element as
occurring within the book.33 It is also believed that the name may
have been based on quick movement. The name can be misleading
since there is a style of calligraphy called ‘whirlwind’ style, where
whirlwind simply describes the very fast writing speed.34
Some scholars believe that whirlwind binding refers to a modified
concertina binding where either one sheet of cover paper was

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

59

29 ‘In March of the 16th year of King
Chungnyol
(1290),
the
Chinese
Emperor ordered the writing of gold
and silver sutras and selected the best
monk scribes, therefore 35 Korean
monks were dispatched to the Yuan
court […]. In April of the same year, 65
Koryo monks, sutra-writers, were dispatched
to
Yuan…’,
Y.
Pak,
‘Illuminated Buddhist Manuscripts in
Korea’, Oriental Art 33 (1987/88): 33–4.
30 Portal, Korea, 88.

31 G. Lee, ‘Bookpaper and Bookbinding
of Old Korean Books’, GutenbergJahrbuch 79 (2004): 52.

32 Yoo, ‘Joogkook’, 27.

33 ‘Because a slight wind occurred
when one turned the pages quickly,
the term whirlwind was most appropriate for this type of book’; P. Liu, Chungkuo chuang-ting chien shih [A Brief
History of Chinese Bookbinding]
(Taipei: Han Hua, 1969), 20, after
Martinique,
‘Chinese
Traditional
Bookbinding’, 22.
34 Yoo, ‘Joogkook’, 34.

60

35 K. Ikegami, Japanese Bookbinding, trans.
D. Kinzer (New York: Weatherhill, 1986),
59–61. In Japanese senpuyo is written with
the same three Chinese characters, 旋風
葉, meaning respectively ‘whirlwind’
(first two characters) and ‘leaf’, but its
name has been traditionally interpreted in western literature as ‘flutter
bookbinding’.
36 Chinnery refers to the whirlwind
binding as ‘Xuanfeng zhuang’, but in
Chinese literature the name longlin
zhuang seems to be generally accepted;
Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, 14–15. Martinique related whirlwind binding to concertina binding; Martinique, ‘Chinese
Traditional Bookbinding’, 22. The
National Central Library of Taiwan rare
book website seems to agree with
Martinique and consequently uses the
name longlin zhuang; http://wwworg.ncl.
edu.tw/rarebook/name.htm (accessed
10 December 2007). See also A. BurkusChasson, ‘Visual Hermeneutics and the
Act of Turning the Leaf: A Genealogy of
Liu Yuan’s Lingyan ge’, in Printing and
Book Culture in Late Imperial China, ed. C.J.
Brokaw and K. Chow (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2005), 372.
37 Yoo, ‘Joogkook’, 15–16.
38 Yoo, ‘Joogkook’, 27–33.
39 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 107.

Song

attached to both sides, or two sheets of cover paper were connected
with a separate piece to the spine. A practical explanation has been
presented by Japanese master bookbinder Kojiro Ikegami, who
interprets the whirlwind bookbinding (Japanese: senpuyo) as a kind
of very light accordion binding wrapped in a single-sheet cover but
with pages unattached to the spine so that a gust of wind could blow
the pages out of the book.35
Other theories state that whirlwind binding is actually the binding
called ‘dragon scale’ (Chinese: longlin zhuang 龍鱗裝) or ‘fish scale’
(Chinese: Yuling zhuang魚鱗裝) binding (Fig. 2).36 The structure of this
binding is made with sheets of paper of different widths stacked on
top of each other. The shortest paper is at the top, the longest at the
bottom. The leaves are aligned and pasted along the left or right edge.
Such a layout makes it much easier to consult a long text and for this
reason, dragon scale format was often used for reference books.37 Ma
feng (馬衡, 1881–1955) started to used the name dragon scale based on
Wang Yun’s (王惲, 1227–1304) description of the manuscript,
‘Corrected and Supplemented Chinese Rhyme Dictionary’ (Chinese:
Kanmiu buque qieyun 刊謬補缺切韻, 706) by Wang Renxu (王仁煦) in
the Palace Museum in Beijing with a colophon indicating that it was
copied and bound in 749.38 Books in this style were rolled and stored
like scrolls, a fact that suggests the influence of the scroll format. At
the same time the concept of stacking sheets may have been related to
pothi bindings. The exact period when this binding style was in use
remains unknown, but examples suggest that it was probably the late
Tang dynasty. No books bound this way have ever been found in
Korea, but the term ‘whirlwind binding’ is known in Korea and this
fact puts a question mark over possible associations between
whirlwind and dragon scale binding.39
It cannot be said conclusively, although it is possible, that the
whirlwind binding in Korea was equivalent to the concertina
binding but with connected covers. An example of the whirlwind
binding style can be seen in some of the maps from the late Joseon
dynasty. ‘Map of the World’ (Yeojido, 輿地圖, nineteenth century)
used relatively thick paper pasted onto half of the next leaf instead

Fig. 2 Diagrams of whirlwind bindings (top) ‘concertina’ xuanfeng zhuang (旋風裝) and
(bottom) ‘dragon scale’ longlin zhuang (龍鱗裝).

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

61

Fig. 3 Map of the World, detail, ink and watercolour on paper, 28cm621.6cm, Library of
Congress Geography and Map Division. # Library of Congress.

of using hinges on the back, forming a variation of concertina
binding (Fig. 3).40 The book covers were separately attached to both
ends and the spine was covered with silk.
Butterfly binding (Korean: hojeobjang; Chinese: hudie zhuang 蝴蝶
裝)
Butterfly binding is the first binding or block book in East Asian
bookbinding history that announced the folded single-leaf book in
contrast to the folded continuous leaf of the concertina binding. It is
known that it had been developed during Song dynasty China, and
believed to be in use until the beginning of the Yuan dynasty.41 The
book was given the name because of the way it opens, which
resembles the wings of a butterfly. Each sheet of paper was folded in
half with printed or written pages facing each other; the sheets were
then pasted together so that the folded edges formed the spine.
The emergence of the butterfly binding should be seen in relation
to the simultaneous development of woodblock printing. Even
though the earliest text printed with a woodblock in China is in the
scroll binding format, the use of individual leaves in the butterfly
binding was naturally more suitable for printing blocks. Somewhere
between the scroll and the butterfly book a characteristic of early
East Asian binding appeared, namely the well-known preference for
one-sided printing, natural for a scroll. It was preserved in butterfly
binding where, since the block was printed onto a whole sheet and
then folded in half, only one side of each sheet was printed.42
Butterfly books were easy to make and to carry around and, more
significantly, easy to open to the desired page. They did have certain
disadvantages, however; since the leaves were pasted to the spine,
the adhesive was in the middle of a printed sheet, and pasted leaves
tended to break away from the spine through use.43
In Korea the butterfly binding was also a transitory binding
format. There is no extant copy from the Goryeo dynasty and only a
few examples exist from the Joseon period. It is known that some
butterfly-bound books might have been later rebound with a side-

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

40 From the collection of Library of
Congress Geography and Map Division,
Washington DC.

41 Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding’, 22, 35; Helliwell, ‘Repair
and
Binding’,
36;
Chinnery,
‘Bookbinding’, 5.

42 The preference for one-sided printing in East Asia can be ascribed to the
translucence of the paper where characters printed on the verso would be
visible on the recto and vice versa. See
also Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, 6.

43 J. Munn, Library of Congress,
Washington DC, personal communication, 2008.

62

44 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 109.

45 Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, 19; Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional Bookbinding’, 37.

46 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 111.

47 Y. Li, ‘Chung kuo shu chuang kao’
[The Evolution of Bookbinding in
China], Tushu kuam hsueh chikan
[Library Science Quarterly] 4 (1930):
216,
after
Martinique,
‘Chinese
Traditional Bookbinding’, 38.

Song

stitched binding. The classic examples of Korean butterfly-bound
books are parts of Avatamsaka Sutra (Korean: Hwaeomgyeong 華嚴
經, Goryeo period) in the Sungamgoseo Museum and Shurangama
Sutra (Korean: Sooneongumkeong 首楞嚴經, 1370) in Kirim temple.44
Another example is Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment (Korean:
Daebanggwang wongak lyaksojugyong 大方廣圓覺略疏注經, Joseon
period) in the Horim Museum.
Wrapped-back binding (Korean: pobaejang; Chinese: baobei
zhuang 包背裝)
Wrapped-back bindings resolved the main structural problem of
butterfly binding by simply folding the pages the opposite way
round. The style was widely used in China during the Southern
Song dynasty (1127–1279) and by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) it
had prevailed over the butterfly format.45 Each sheet of paper was
printed on one side and folded so that the print would be on the
outside of the leaf. The folded edges were the fore-edge of the book
while the cut ends were the spine. The leaves were bound using
paper twists passing through near the spine. Twists were then
trimmed and pasted down close to the spine. A cover was attached
to the front page, the spine and the last page.
Wrapped-back binding was used from the late Goryeo period to
the early Joseon period, but the examples are as rare as those of
butterfly binding. One interesting example is The Proper
Pronunciation in Korean (Korean: Dongguk jeong un, 東國正韻) in
Konkuk University Museum, first published in 1447 and bound in
side-stitched binding but later rebound to wrapped-back binding.
Another example is Lotus Sutra (Korean: Myobeop yeonhwagyeong,
妙法 華經, 1470) in the Seongbo Museum, Tongdo temple (通度
寺).46
Later evolution of East Asian bookbinding demonstrated the
importance of the invention of the paper twists (Korean: jong-e- mot,
; Chinese: chinian, 紙捻) essential for this binding. They
fastened the leaves without using paste and added durability to the
whole structure. These twists were made from a rectangular piece of
paper twisted into a long thread or cord. Their use continued in
side-stitched binding, where they kept the bookblock together.
Side-stitched binding (Korean: seonjang; Chinese: xian zhuang 線裝)
The side-stitched binding represents the last stage in the history of
traditional East Asian bookbinding. This binding prevailed over
other formats in Ming dynasty China, around the late sixteenth and
early seventeenth century.47 The majority of Chinese books made
during this period were bound in this style while many books that
had been published earlier were rebound using side-stitched
binding. It was common practice to reuse the original woodblocks,
when possible, to reprint and then rebind books made in Song and
Yuan dynasties. As a result, the dates in the colophons can easily
confuse readers into believing that the side-stitched binding existed
in periods much earlier than the Ming dynasty.
The use of threads for binding can be traced back to the ninth-century
late Tang period in the Dunhuang collection, but the Dunhuang
stitched books do not seem to follow any particular tradition of

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

bookbinding style. There are groups of books bound into gatherings.
Some other books were stitched in the butterfly style, and stitches may
have been applied to reinforce the weakness of the binding. The scholar
Wang Zhu (王著) of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) wrote that
he had butterfly-bound books stitched to make them more durable.48
It seems only natural to assume that the side-stitched binding was
invented and developed by adding the outer sewing of cotton or silk
thread to the wrapped-back binding. In Chinese bookbinding,
generally four holes were stabbed along the side of the spine with
two inner holes closer to each other or all four equidistant. Larger
books might have five or six stitches, while some exceptionally large
books were reinforced with seven or even more depending on
circumstances.49 There are several variations of stitching and
knotting of threads. When the thread is broken, it is still easy to
replace it since paper twists hold the text block together. Most of the
covers are soft and pliable which makes them easy to turn, and the
whole structure gains significant durability. The only disadvantages
of the side-stitched binding can be seen in the possibility of the holes
getting too wide after restitching several times and in splitting of the
folded edges from frequent reading.50 The side-stitched binding
spread to Korea where it quickly became representative of a welldefined local style bearing its own characteristics.
It is not clear why the side-stitched binding in Korea prevailed
earlier than in China even though the style has Chinese origins.
Historically speaking, side-stitched binding in Korea was exclusively favoured while China still used other bindings. Side-stitched
binding had been the predominant binding style in Korea since the
thirteenth century, long before it became popular in China.51 It
represents the most popular style in traditional Korean bookbinding.
The binding technique is similar to Chinese side-stitched binding,
but there are differences regarding the average size, number of
stitches, colour of thread and book cover decorations. This most
popular format of Korean books preserved in both East Asian and
western collections provides the best opportunity for providing a
precise explanation of book structure, materials and technology.
Side-stitched binding, ingenious in its simplicity, proved to be the
most stable format developed during the long history of bookbinding in East Asia.
1 Structure of side-stitched bindings
Descriptions of Asian books mechanically following western
terminology can lead to certain misunderstandings. Despite similar
objectives, both binding cultures evolved from different origins,
concepts and ideas. The complexity of Asian book terminology is
often lost in translation. One similarity exists in the term ‘spine’ yet
this still refers to a slightly but significantly different linguistic
context. Chinese, Korean and Japanese people shared similar ancient
Chinese names for the parts of a book. Specific names were chosen
for function, location, shape or even symbolic importance. A large
part of bookbinding vocabulary in China and Korea utilises
anthropomorphic terms related to the human head. Others are
myth-related, and meaningful words such as ‘root’ or ‘heart’ also
stress the thinking-related and mythical aspects of objects as

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

63

48 Chinnery, ‘Bookbinding’, 8–10; see
illustrations.

49 Helliwell, ‘Repair and Binding’, 109.

50 Martinique, ‘Chinese Traditional
Bookbinding’, 39.

51 Lee, Urihanji, 53.

64

Song

Fig. 4 Parts of side-stitched bound book and printed sheet.

perceived by society. In this article, original terms in Korean will be
used to indicate each part of the book with an English translation
providing their meanings (Fig. 4).
The main parts of a side-stitched bound book can be recognised as
follows: spine of the book (Korean: seobe 書背) where the cut edges
of the text block are exposed along with the edges of the cover and
crossed with stitches of thread; the narrow margin between the
spine and the outer sewing holes (Korean: seoneo 書腦), literally ‘the
brain of the book’; the opening of the text block (Korean: seogoo 書
口), literally, ‘mouth of the book’; the top edges of the text block and
covers (Korean: seosoo, 書首), literally ‘head of the book’; and the
bottom edges of the text block and covers (Korean: seogun 書根),
literally, ‘root of the book’.
2 Printed sheets of side-stitched books
The square outlines of the printing block are called gwangguak (匡郭)
in Korean. There are several kinds of these lines depending on the
specific bookbinding chosen by the artisan. Butterfly, wrapped-back
and side-stitched bound books tend to have a single square line
around the sheet. Scroll and concertina-bound books usually have
single outlines at the top and bottom because the leaves are
connected to each other to form a continuous format. The corner of
the outline is often an important clue to distinguish between those
books printed with woodblocks and those printed with movable
type. While woodblock printed sheets have a continuous outline,
printed sheets with movable type often have tiny gaps in the corners
if the outline was assembled with separate pieces. Sometimes the

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

65

Fig. 6 Tang Poetry (Tangshi 唐詩),
detail, lining paper from old books,
ink on paper, 28.5cm619cm, private
collection.

Fig. 5 Statistical occurrence of selected fishtails according to Andong University Library.

movable type edition would be reprinted later with woodblocks cut
exactly after the original leaves. Discordance between the bookbinding style or technique and the outlines does not necessarily
mean that a book has been rebound but it can sometimes be an
important clue for more careful analysis.
The vertical lines separating parts of text are referred to as geseon
(界線). Since vertical lines started to be used in later periods, they
can help to distinguish Joseon period books from those published
during the Goryeo period.
The central column of each sheet of butterfly, wrapped-back and
side-stitched bound books are referred to as panshim (版心) which
can be directly translated as ‘heart of the printed sheet’.
In order to aid the binder fold precisely along the middle of a
sheet, ‘fishtail’ patterns, eomi (魚), so called because of their shape,
were placed within the central column area, usually at the upper
and lower areas. Although different styles of ‘fishtails’ could be used
during certain periods, they can help to determine the date of a book
since particular designs are known to have appeared at certain
times. For example, a petal motif appeared from the sixteenth
century (Fig. 5).52
3 Covers of side-stitched books
The book cover of side-stitched books is called check-ui (冊衣),
literally ‘the clothes’ of a book. The book cover was made either of
silk or of several layers of laminated Korean mulberry paper, hanji
(韓紙). A silk cover was mostly used for books of special value while
paper remained the main material for book covers. The paper used
for laminated covers was usually obtained from old books and
manuscripts or from discarded new ones. There are several cases
when after unbinding, important information such as the year of
publication or sheets from lost books have been found in parts of the
cover (Fig. 6).

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

52 Andong University Library, http://
www2.andong.ac.kr/,dwyun/yemi.
html (accessed 15 November 2007); see
also Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 579.

66

53 Y. Kim, ‘Joseonshidae nunghwapan
pyojibokwon jejak yeongu’ [The Research
on Cover Restoration Nunghwa Pattern
Used in the Joseon Dynasty] (master’s
thesis, Department of Cultural Relics
Conservation, Yongin University, 2006),
22–31; see also Lee, Urihanji, 54.
54 J. Hong, detailed explanation available, http://bookart.culturecontent.com/
mov/mov.html (accessed 2 January
2008); see also O. Jeong, Nae sonulo haneon
cheonyeon yeomsek [DIY: Using Natural
Dyes] (Paju: Deulnyeok, 2001), 71.

55 G. Nam, Joseonshide goseo pyojimoonyang byoncheone dehan yeongu [The
History of Book Covers in the Joseon
Period] (Cheongju: Cheongju Early
Printing Museum, 2004), 73–102.
56 Either right-sided or left-sided. The
predominance of left-sided swastika in
Buddhism started relatively late, after the
Second World War, to avoid confusion.
57 The appearance of this technique in
Japan can be related to Joseon
Tongshinsa, which were Korean diplomatic missions accompanied by cultural envoys visiting Japan after the
failed Hideyoshi’s invasion and during
the Tokugawa era (1603–1867); Nam,
Joseonshide, 85; see also K. Kim, ‘Route
of the Korean Envoys of Chosun
Dynasty and their Cultural Legacy in
Japan’, in Proceedings of the ICCOMS
15th General Assembly and Scientific
Symposium,
vol. 2
(Xian:
World
Publishing Corporation, 2005), 967–72.
58 H. Yi, National Library of Korea,
Seoul, personal communication, 2007.

Song

A sheet of paper was coloured yellow and lined with several
layers of paper with wheat starch paste. A yellow book cover is now
regarded as one of the distinguishing characteristics of a traditional
Korean book even though several examples of blue book covers are
known. Other colours used for Korean books are relatively rare. To
achieve the correct shade of yellow, the outer bark of the amur cork
tree (Korean: hwanbyeok, Phellodendron amurense Rupr), acorns
(Korean: dotori, Quercus) or fruits of the gardenia tree (Korean: chija,
Gardenia jasminoides), were usually used.53 According to traditional
scroll mounter and bookbinder Hong Jongjin, after application of the
yellow dye soybean extract would be brushed on which may have
strengthened the paper and reduced surface abrasion. Judging from
the Korean traditional practice of dying fabric it is also possible that
the soybean extract acted as mordant, utilising protein from the
soybean to help to set the colour.54
After the book covers had been dyed, further decoration steps
followed. First beeswax was applied onto the carved woodblock
called nunghwapan ( 花板) and the slightly dampened paper cover
was placed over it. The beeswax was applied on the surface of the
paper cover which was later rubbed with a smooth stone, pressing
and smoothing to impregnate the cover with beeswax which would
waterproof and protect it from insect damage. The patterns were
embossed by burnishing the surface of the cover paper with a stone
over the woodblock surface. Additionally, it gave the cover a glossy
and leathery finish.
The yellow covers were cut slightly larger than the text block and
the four edges were folded in. The excess paper in the corners was
cut out to even the surface. Most book covers in Korea were made
this way until the advancement of mass production and modern
designs in the twentieth century.
According to some studies the use of woodblock designs to
decorate book covers started in the Goryeo period, but so far no
factual evidence has been found to support this theory.55 Most
existing woodblock-designed covers date from the late Joseon
period onward. It would be fair to say that the design motifs were
originally related to Buddhism since early examples present
patterns based mostly on the lotus and the Buddhist swastika
( ).56 Gradually, with the popularisation of the technique, more
designs were added, including flowers, plants, animals and
various geometric motifs. In the Joseon period Buddhist themes
were used regardless of the subject of the book, often decorating
covers of Confucian classics. The changes in popular subjects for
designs seem to be related to similar currents in fabric designs of
the time. Corresponding techniques can also be found in Japanese
books of the Edo period (1603–1868) and some designs are similar
to those of Korea, for example the combination of the sign 回 and
lotus with other imagery, flowers giving the meaning of good luck
(Fig. 7).57
4 Size of side-stitched books
The popular size for Korean books was 250–300mm6150–200mm,
however the size could vary depending on the purpose of the
book.58 Manuscripts made for recording court ceremonies were

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

67

Fig. 7 Various patterns for book covers: (a) 15C lotus, (b) 15C flowers and geometrical
patterns, (c) 15C cranes and clouds, (d) 16C various objects, (e) 17C geometrical patterns, (f)
18C Buddhist swastika and squares. # Korea Culture & Contents Agency, Cheongju Cultural
Industry Promotion Foundation.

larger than other books (see the Royal Protocols of the Joseon
Dynasty, below). On the other hand, a scroll which was meant to be
a relic kept in a pagoda could have been fairly small. There are no
records explaining what dictated the sizes of Korean books.
Traditionally in Korea the size of the book was decided first and
book paper specially ordered and produced to size.59 Certainly it
was not the same as in Japan where the size of book was more
uniform and related to the size of the available paper.60
5 Process of side-stitched binding
Printed sheets of Korean side-stitched bindings were first folded in
half and stacked together with a certain number of sheets forming
the text block to be bound. Four holes were pierced near the spine to
bind the text block together with two paper twists similar to those
used in wrapped-back binding. They secured the book even if the
outer threads eventually broke. Each paper twist was tied, trimmed
and hammered. The edges of the text block tied with paper twists
were then precisely cut. In another variation, instead of using paper
twists; pieces of paper were inserted through holes, the paper cut
very close to the book block from both sides, pasted down and
hammered (Fig. 8).

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

59 C. Park, Youngin University, personal communication, 2008.
60 The general dimensions of Japanese
books made of hanshi, which literally
means ‘half paper’, are 235mm6165mm;
Ikegami, Japanese Bookbinding, 8.

68

Song

Fig. 8 (a) tying paper twists, (b) trimming book cover, (c) piercing holes, (d) waxing thread, (e)
binding, (f) hammering stitches.

61 Munn has noticed blue coloured
threads in some Korean books at the
Library of Congress. Park confirmed
that other colours were used to dye
threads; personal communication, 2008.
62 The whole process has been demonstrated in a detailed video available at
http://bookart.culturecontent.com/mov/
mov.html (accessed 2 January 2008). There
is another variation where thread enters the
book from outside the block into the second
hole and is looped around before continuing forward; P. Kim, Living National
Treasure, personal communication 2008.

The endsheets (Korean: myeonji, 面紙) were sewn to the text block
by the inner stitch with paper twists and attached to the inside of the
book covers. Endsheets carried important information, normally
written and/or stamped; the year of publication, name of the owner
and history of ownership. This information was sometimes removed
by a descendant of the owner if the book was to be sold, to cover the
shame of selling an ancestor’s books. On the front cover, title strips
were attached at the upper left or the title was simply written on the
cover without putting on extra paper. The cover was then placed on
both sides of the text block. Usually five holes were pierced through
the covers 12–15mm from the spine.
The bookbinding thread was waxed with beeswax before stitching.
The thread normally entered the book starting from the direction of
the opening inside the text block into the centre or bottom hole and
pulled out through the front cover (Fig. 9). The needle was then
inserted into the next hole on the right and the following stitches sewn
toward the top edge, proceeding to the bottom edge, and then back to
the starting hole. The needle was finally inserted under the former
stitching and, after checking that the thread was tightly bound, the
knot was tied as close as possible to the hole. The thread passed
through the hole, was tied with the other end of the thread, leaving a
piece a few centimetres long, and tucked between the sheets.
Sometimes the leftover thread can be found between the last sheet
and the back cover of an old book. Probably because of the larger size
of the book, the thread tended to be thicker than those used by
Chinese or Japanese bookbinders. The thread was generally made of
hemp, cotton or silk, dyed and then coated with beeswax. The thread
could be dyed in different colours, with red being the most
significant.61 The source of the dyes used for the thread has not yet
been conclusively established, but considering the traditional way of
colouring fabrics, it could have been plant-based. Because natural dye
fades easily some book threads can appear to have no colour even
though they originally would have been dyed.62
Other bindings
The side-stitched binding largely prevailed over other Korean
bookbinding styles. However, during the long history of Korean

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

69

Fig. 9 Diagram to show sewing of Korean side-stitched binding.

bookbinding, combinations of different binding styles and other
specific techniques were developed and are explained below.
1 Multiple fold binding
In the Joseon dynasty cartography flourished and the first accurate
world map in East Asia was produced in 1402. The World Map
(Korean: Honilgangli yeokdaegukdojido 混一疆理 代國都之圖), now in
the Ryukoku University Museum, Japan, was based on Yuan China
and Arab sources. Joseon dynasty maps were often made in portable
atlas form, uncommon both in China and in Japan.63 A typical Joseon
atlas consisted of several sections designated for a world map, map of
China, map of Korea, maps of each of the eight provinces of Korea, a
map of Japan and a map of the Ryukyu Islands. The multiple fold
binding format was made for the purpose of meeting the demands of
cartography—when a large sheet of paper was necessary for the
drawing—and a book small enough, a convenient ‘pocket’ size, to be
easily carried by travellers was desirable.
The maps, folded into multiple sections, were adhered to each
other by pasting a section of one map to a section of the next. A book
cover was usually wrapped around the folded map or two separate
covers were pasted to both ends and fabric or strips of paper were
attached to the spine. Parallel examples of Chinese bound maps
were made in a different way. Large sheets were folded multiple
times and sewn into a side-stitched binding.
2 Folded hinge binding
Folded hinge binding, a different technique used for binding maps,
is probably one of the most interesting bindings found in Korea.
Map of the Eastern World (Korean: Dongyeodo 東輿圖, 1896) was in
essence a concertina binding but each inner fold was attached with
paper tabs to both front and back covers. The tabs were attached

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

63 Portal, Korea, 115.

70

Song

progressively down the folds sequentially, resembling the hinges of
screens. The cover of this bound map was unfortunately later
replaced with a western case cover, but the tabs can still be seen
under the endsheets.
3 Pasted leaf binding
In a butterfly binding every other sheet is blank. The Cartographic
Survey (Yeoji yolam, 輿地要覽, eighteenth century) was bound in
butterfly binding; however, the blank leaves were not left free but
pasted to the next blank leaf. As a result of pasting two leaves
together, they could be turned without seeing blank areas and each
leaf was thicker. The folds were pasted into the spine, but as a
consequence of the heavier leaves, they were easily detached from
the spine with use.

Fig. 10 The Royal Office of Weddings
Protocols (Garyedogam uigwe 嘉禮都監
儀軌), 1727, ink on paper,
46.8cm632.7cm, Kyujanggak Institute
for Korean Studies. # Kyujanggak
Institute for Korean Studies.

64 J. Park, Wangshil jaryeo bojongwa
gwanli [The Care of Korean Court
Documents]
(Seongnam:
Hanguk
Gojeonjeok Bojon Hyeopuihoe, 2006),
116.

65 The date of transmission has been
mentioned in many sources. See, e.g.,
D. Hunter, Papermaking: The History and
Technique of an Ancient Craft (New York:
Courier Dover Publications, 1978), 56.

66 ‘Chronicle of Japan’ (Nihon Shoki,
, 721), chapter 22; see also R.
Paine, The Art and Architecture of Japan
(New Haven: Yale University Press,
1981), 35.

4 The Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty binding (Korean: Uigwe,
儀軌)
This bound manuscript (Fig. 10) records Joseon dynasty court
events, ceremonies and important funerals throughout the Joseon
period. In this binding, metal bars were used to bind the text blocks
and covers. Three or five rivets protruding from a metal bar were
pierced through the holes along the spine margin where originally
the thread had been sewn into the side-stitched binding and affixed
to a second metal bar on the other side of the cover. Three or five
holes were used to hold the block connected with the bar. The bars
were sometimes decorated with floral ornaments or had a ring
attached to the centre (the exact function of the ring is as yet
unknown).64
Book paper
No written record explains when papermaking skills spread from
China to Korea. It is believed that papermaking might have been
practised in Korea as early as the third century, based on the
discovery of a piece of paper in an ancient tomb, Chehyeopchong (彩
塚, 108 BC–AD 313). This early date closely follows the Chinese
invention and largely predates the much later transmission of
papermaking techniques from Korea to Japan in the seventh
century.65
Korean papermakers established their own methods of papermaking, probably some time between the third century and 751 when
the Dharani Sutra was printed on paper made of paper mulberry
(Japanese: ko¯zo). It is also the first artefact in which the paper was
treated by dochim (搗砧), a beating process which reduced the
bleeding of the ink. Pounding the paper to prepare the surface was
used throughout Korean papermaking history. From the third to the
seventh centuries the Korean papermakers adapted Chinese
methods and developed new methods to suit locally available
materials. In 610, Japan received instruction on papermaking from a
Korean Buddhist monk, Damjing (曇徵), together with ink sticks, a
millstone and colourants.66
The main materials in traditional Chinese papermaking included
bast fibres, hemp (ma 麻), paper mulberry (ku 穀 or chu 楮,
Broussonetia papyrifera), rattan (teng 籐, Calamus rotang), blue

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

sandalwood (Qing tan 靑檀, Pteroceltis Tatarinowii); grass fibres:
bamboo (Zhu 竹, Gramineae family), rice or wheat straw (cao 草,
Gramineae family), and mixtures of bast and grass fibres. With the
exception of hemp and rattan, all the other fibres are still used for
papermaking today.67 During preparation, fermentation of raw
materials may occur before processing or after initial cooking.68 The
favourite Chinese paper of the Joseon literati was xuan paper
(Chinese: xuazhi 宣紙), originally made in Anhui province with blue
sandalwood and straw and well known for its softness and good
reception of ink. The imitation of this paper, seonji (宣紙), was
produced in Korea and used mostly for calligraphy and paintings.
Throughout the history of Korean papermaking, paper mulberry
remains the major fibre. There are early examples of books using
hemp fibres dating from the time the paper was introduced to Korea
until Unified Shilla.69 The known examples on hemp fibre paper
include Goguryeo Lotus Sutra (Korean: Myobeop yeonhwagyeong, 妙
法 華經, pre-668) and Unified Shilla Diamond Sutra (Korean:
Geumgwang myeonggyeong,
剛明經, 858).70
As an exclusive source of paper fibre, paper mulberry was first
used in Shilla Dharani Sutra (751). Since the fibres are relatively
short, they must have been chopped as well as beaten.71 Shilla
Avatamsaka Sutra (755) describes how paper mulberry was used for
papermaking. The trees were grown with great care, sometimes
sprayed with scents. Shilla Diamond Sutra (855) is another example
where book paper was made of paper mulberry and it remained the
main material for book paper until the Joseon period. Chapter 29 of
Annals of King Taejong (Korean: Taejongshillok, 太宗實錄, 1400)
describes how the Joseon government ran its own plantations and
local governments had to pay the taxes in paper mulberry.72 As a
result of extensive paper production there was a shortage of paper
mulberry from the twelfth century.73 At that time other fibres were
used for book paper, either mixed with paper mulberry or used on
their own, such as flax (hemp, ramie), wild paper mulberry (Korean:
anpi, W. sikokiana), mulberry (Morus alba), willow, straw, bamboo,
cotton and recycled paper. On the other hand, fibre used to make
paper for unbound manuscripts in the Joseon period was mainly
paper mulberry.74
King Sejong (世宗, ruled 1419–1450) was interested in developing
papermaking and tried to use different fibres from China and Japan.
He sent papermakers to China to learn how to use other materials.
He also ordered waejeo (倭楮, ko¯zo) to be brought from the Japanese
Tsushima Island and grown in many regions in 1430.75 Paper made
of mulberry rarely appears in Korean historical records. China,
Korea and Japan must all have been aware how their neighbours
made paper and tried to learn each other’s techniques. Used paper
was utilised as book paper either by recycling, by printing the
unprinted side or as lining paper for book covers and endsheets.76
The surface of Korean handmade paper sheets was often prepared
by the beating process. After the paper sheets had been formed they
were stacked and left to dry overnight with a wooden board on the
top of the stack, weighed down with stones. The board was then
removed and the stack was beaten with a wooden stick or with a
wooden hammer powered by a watermill. In some cases diluted rice

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

71

67 T. Tsien, ‘Raw Materials for Old
Papermaking in China’, Journal of the
American Oriental Society 93 (1973): 510–
19.
68 F. Tsai and D. van der Reyden,
‘Analysis of Modern Chinese Paper and
Treatment of Chinese Woodblock
Print’, The Paper Conservator 21 (1997):
49. Fermentation of raw materials was
not part of traditional Korean papermaking.
69 S. Jung, ‘Jong eui jeolle shigiwa
godae jejikisul e gwanhan yeongu’
[Study on the Introduction of Paper
and Papermaking Technique in Ancient
Korea] (PhD thesis, Department of
Library of Information Science, Yonsei
University, Seoul, 1998), 85.
70 Lee, Urihanji, 50–2.
71 Jung, Jong, 34.

72 Lee, Urihanji, 51.
73 ‘History of the Goryeo Dynasty’
(Goyreosa,
, Chapter 79, Ji 33,
Sikhwa 2, Nongsang, 5th year of King
Injong (1127).

74 G. Son, ‘Joseon shidae moonseoji
yeongu’ [A Study on Papers used in
Historical Documents of Joseon Period]
(PhD thesis, Department of Language,
Literature and Arts, Graduate School of
Korean Studies, Gyeonggi-do, 2004),
102.
75 G. Son, ‘Joseon shide moonheone
natananeun jong eui jongryu mit jejo
gagongbeop’ [The Kinds and Process of
Paper Mentioned in References of the
Joseon Period], Gojeonjuk 2 (2006): 26–
33; see also Seong Hyeon (
),
Collections of Writing by Yongjae
(Yongjechonghwa,
), Chapter
10, after Lee, Urihanji, 51.

76 Lee Urihanji, 51.

72

77 G. Son, ‘Joseon’, 38, 42.

78 G. Cho, ‘Joseon wangshil bong an
seocheck eui janghwang gwa bojon
yeongu’ [A Study of the Mounting
and Preservation of Royal Books in the
Joseon
Dynasty]
(PhD
thesis,
Department of Language, Literature
and Arts, The Graduate School of
Korean Studies, Gyeonggi-do, 2006), 5.

79 The Chinese technology of making
and use of ink was transmitted to Korea
and Japan as well as to Tibet. Korean
and Japanese ink had been in solid
format (ink sticks) similar to Chinese
ink, while Tibetan ink was in liquid
form. Inks were traded to India, Turkey
and to Europe as early as the tenth
century; X. Zhan, ‘Study in the
Manufacture of Some Ancient Inks in
Relation to Ink Corrosion Found on
Sanskrit Fragments’ (master’s thesis,
Camberwell College of Arts, 2007), 11.

Song

starch paste was applied to the surface of each sheet of paper,
providing abrasion resistance for ease of writing or printing. This
practice was not adapted for all the paper produced in Korea, and
contemporary paper for paintings and calligraphy, made in the
traditional way, does not contain any starch. Through the beating
process, the paper texture became smoother and the fibres became
more compact. This practice was used for high-quality paper. Even
though there are examples where beating has been used, it should
not be automatically presumed that every sheet of Korean paper will
have been processed in this way.
Traditionally, creamy white paper was most common, but red,
yellow, dark blue and dark grey coloured papers were also made.
The paper was coloured after the sheet had been made rather than
during formation in the vat. When heavy-duty paper was required
for flooring or furniture, oil was applied to the surface to make it
waterproof. This kind of paper was also used for writing as well as
for making umbrellas and raincoats and sometimes as a wrapping
paper for ritual vessels. Sunflower root extract (Helianthus annuus)
gave the paper its glossy surface. These methods are no longer
used in papermaking.77 Another old method was the impregnation
with beeswax which supposedly prevented insect damage. This
process, however, contributed to the paper yellowing and
becoming brittle. Damage has been found in the very important
royal edition of the Annals of Joseon Dynasty (Korean: Joseon
wangjoshillok 朝鮮王朝實錄, 1392–1863).78 Currently conservation
issues regarding this problem are under examination and research
is being conducted by the National Research Institute of Cultural
Heritage in Korea.

Printing
1 Printing ink (Korean: meok/muk 墨)
Korean ink is a mixture of soot and animal glue. The chief
ingredients of high-quality ink, according to Chinese classics, are
lampblack made by burning vegetable oil or soot made by burning
wood (usually pinewood) and animal glue.79 Pinewood or vegetable
oil (soy, camellia, rapeseed) was burnt in a fireplace supplied with a
chimney where the soot was trapped. The higher the soot was
trapped in the chimney, the better quality ink sticks it produced. The
soot was strained through a very fine strainer and mixed with glue
made from horn or animal hides. The final quality of an ink
depended upon the quality of the glue, which provided a binder and
a dispersion system for the particles. The mixture was repeatedly
pounded and placed into a wooden mould to dry slowly under the
ashes. Ink obtained from pinewood is called songyeon muk (松煙墨),
while that made from vegetable oil is yuyeon muk (油煙墨). In
printing with woodblocks, pine soot ink was preferred because it
was distinguishably darker. It tended to congeal when applied to
metal type so lampblack was used for printing with metal type. The
density of the black was somewhat weaker but it adhered well to
metal type. Before application the ink was ground and mixed with
water, and alcohol was added for better dispersion, wetting and
quick drying.

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

2 Woodblock (Korean: mokpan 木版)
Around the seventh century, a large number of Buddhist texts were
published in Korea. The oldest extant Chinese dated woodblock
printed book is the Diamond Sutra (Chinese: Jingang banruo
boluomiduojing 金剛般若波羅蜜多經) from Tang China, 868. In
Japan, One Million Pagodas and Dharani Prayers (Hyakumanto
darani 百万塔陀羅尼) is the earliest woodblock printed manuscript,
dated 770. In Korea, the oldest extant printed manuscript, Dharani
Sutra, was made in the Unified Shilla dynasty, not later than 751.
The sutra was found during the Sokka pagoda (釋迦塔 Sakyamuni
pagoda) excavations in the Pulguk temple (佛國寺), erected in 751.
There is no colophon in the text, but from the typography it can be
assumed that the manuscript reflected a late seventh- and early
eighth-century style, following type founts made during the
Empress Wu Zetian period (武則天 ruled 625–705) and used for
only about a century.80
Buddhism influenced publication of a large number of books
throughout the Goryeo period. Unfortunately, because of wars with
Kitan, Jurchens and Mongols, many of the books made during the
Goryeo dynasty have been lost. However, there remain several
thousand copies of the Goryeo collection of the Buddhist tripitaka,
the first edition (Chojo daejanggyeong 初雕大藏經, 1101–1087). The
Goryeo collection of Buddhist tripitaka, the second edition (Jaejo
daejanggyeong 再雕大藏經, 1236), printed with 80,000 woodblocks,
still remains in the Haein temple (海印寺 UNESCO World Heritage)
in Hapcheon. The woodblocks for this book had been made on such
a large scale as a form of prayer for protecting the country from
Kitan and Mongols.
The woodblock printing process began with cutting the selected
wood boards into panels and polishing their surfaces. The trees
selected for woodblocks were jujube (Chinese date) (Zizyphus jujuba
var.inermis), Asian pear (Pyrus pyrifolia (Burm. f.) Nakai) or
Manchurian walnut (Juglans mandshurica), Schmidt birch (Betula
schmidtii), Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii Rehder), Korean white
birch (Betula platyphylla var. japonica (Miq.) Hara), and hubak
(Machilus thunbergii).81 The block was repeatedly soaked in salt
water (approx. 3.5%) and soft water; if salt water was not available,
hard water was used. The block was then steamed. This process
helped to disinfect the block and remove wood resin. Finally, the
block was dried in the shade to avoid distortion.
The square outlines and vertical text lines were carved first and
ink was applied onto the block. The paper was placed onto the block
and printed by rubbing the surface. After printing the square
outlines and text lines, the writer, selected from the best calligraphers, wrote between the lines, and then the paper was again placed
onto the block, face down. All parts of the text were carved,
including title, fascicle, content, date and sometimes the name of the
carver. Handles on the sides of the block prevented direct contact
between blocks when several were stored together. They also helped
ventilation, keeping the blocks from rotting and distorting from
damp (Fig. 11). The ink was applied with a brush onto the block and
the manuscript was printed by rubbing with a bundle of horse or
human hair (inche 印體) smoothed with a tiny amount of beeswax or

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

73

80 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 168.

81 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 161.

74

Song

Fig. 11 Woodblock with handles. # Cultural Heritage Administration.

oil. Should a mistake in the woodblock print have been found, the
wrong word had to be cut out and the new word inserted in an
editing process called sanggam (象嵌). In many cases, instead of
writing the main text by hand, old books printed with wooden or
metal type were used to carve new blocks. This can often lead to
confusion about the original date of publication.

82 Shen Kuo ( 括, 1031–1095) wrote
about Bi Sheng’s invention of baked
clay type in his book Dream Pool Essays
(Mongxi bitan, 夢溪筆談) in 1088; J.
Needham and T. Tsien, Science and
Civilisation in China, vol. 5, Chemistry
and Chemical Technology, part I
(Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1985), 201.

83 P. Sohn, ‘Printing since the 8th
Century in Korea’, Koreana 7 (1993):
4–9.

3 Movable type (Korean: hwalja 活字)
In the eleventh century, before metal type was used in East Asia, Bi
Sheng (畢昇, active 1041–1048) invented baked clay type in China
(Chinese: jiaoni huozi 膠泥活字). The mass production of baked clay
movable type was never developed, probably because clay type
pieces were too fragile and lacked good adhesion to the printing
ink.82
Metal typography was invented in Korea at the beginning of the
thirteenth century. There are several historical factors that might
have led to the invention of metal type (Korean: Gumsok hwalja,
屬活字). Printing with woodblocks was very expensive in terms of
labour and time. Large fires in Korea in 1126 and in 1170 destroyed
a great number of books and caused a significant shortage of wood.
There had been high-quality bronze casting since the Shilla period
and there had been considerable experience in minting bronze
coins during the Goryeo dynasty; so the technology for the
invention of movable metal type was already present.
There are several opinions regarding the time of the invention of
metal type in Korea. Priest Nammyong’s Interpretation of Zen Teachings
(Nammyeongcheon hwasang songjeongdoga, 南明泉和尙頌證道歌, early
thirteenth century), has been identified as a woodblock printed reedition of an earlier book printed with metal type. Another source can
be found in the introduction written by Yi Gyu-bo (李奎報, 1168–1241)
for Collected Writings (Donggook isang gookjip, 東國李相國集, 1241)
where he describes a book, namely Goryeo Readings for Buddhist
Ceremonies (Sangjeong gogeum yemoon, 詳定古今 文,1234), printed with
metal type. Unfortunately not a single copy of that book has survived.83
The earliest extant book printed with metal type was published at
the former Heungdeok Temple (興德寺) in Cheongju. The book,
Selected Teachings of Buddhist Sages and Zen Masters, popularly known
as ‘Jikji’ (Korean: Buljo jikji shimche yogeol 佛祖直指心體要節), printed
in 1377, predates European metal type by a century.
Bronze, lead and iron were used for metal type. The structure of
the type and the styles of founts changed in different periods from
the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The fount types were
named according to the Chinese sexagenary cycle, names of

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

publishers or calligraphers and styles of typography. Since the exact
years of making metal type have been recorded, it is often possible
to identify the year of printing by comparing printed characters to
the style and the shape of particular type pieces.
It is possible that Selected Teachings of Buddhist Sages and Zen
Masters had been printed using the early versions of movable type
using beeswax model type or wooden type.84 The style of characters
was selected either from the printer’s own writing, from a copy of a
famous calligrapher’s writing or from a previous printed text. The
paper with new text was attached face-down to sticks of beeswax
and the characters were engraved with a very sharp knife and
separated, either individually or in small groups. This process
produced model type pieces, known in Korean as abija or eomija
or
), which would later be lost in the process of
(
forming metal type. The model types were placed in a casting pot,
filled with a dough-like mix of kaolin, clay or desalinated sand and
water. The pot was heated to melt the model types and the molten
metal was poured into the casting pot, producing the type pieces.
After cooling, the type pieces were taken out and cut to the correct
size. Because the model types were melted during the process, the
shapes of characters could not always be uniform. Another casting
method was to make a mould by imprinting wooden type into a clay
matrix. Before the type was set in the printing plate (inpan, 印版),
usually made of copper, a mixture of beeswax and castor oil (or
sesame oil) in a proportion of 1:1 was poured into the plate to better
hold the type in place (Fig. 12).85 This printing plate was similar to
the chase in western printing, but it had fixed frame, outlines and
text lines. After completing the typesetting, the printing plate was
heated to spread the beeswax evenly. The type pieces were levelled
with a mallet or by pressing them firmly in place.
There were some changes in printing during the Joseon period. In
1403, the central government established an official foundry to
produce all the metal type for its own publications in order to
produce more uniform characters and to ensure durability. During
printing metal type was set in printing plates with fragments of
bamboo or scrap paper. It helped to speed the printing process since
the typesetter did not have to wait until the beeswax had hardened.
Once the type was set, ink was applied and dampened paper was
placed on the printing plate. Paper was rubbed with bundles of
horse or human hair treated with a little oil or beeswax. The first
draft was printed and corrected. For books published by the order of
the central government, severe punishments could have been
inflicted upon proof readers if they overlooked too many mistakes.86
The early beginnings of wooden type (Korean: mok hwalja 木活字)
have not been recorded; it was used as a model for metal type or to
substitute for metal type when necessary. There are only few extant
examples of texts printed with wooden type, including a scroll,
Aristocratic Titles Awarded by King (1395). The process of making
wooden type was documented in Encyclopedia of Husbandry and Crafts
(Imwongyeongjeji, 林園經濟志) by Seo Yoo-gu (徐有榘, 1764–1845) and
discussed by Ryu Tek-il.87 Both writers described the process where
first the type fount was selected and the calligrapher wrote characters
according to the required size. The preferred characteristics for the

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

75

84 M. Park, Geumsok hwaljajang
(Daejeon:
Cultural
Properties
Administration, 2001), 11–210.

85 The right proportions are essential
for this process. Too much wax makes
typesetting time too short, and too
much oil takes too long to harden; K.
Ra, ‘The development of early printing
technique in Korea’ (KFJS: Sharing
experience between Korea and France in
Analysis, Characteristics and Deterioration
of Ancient Papers, Korea-France Joint
Seminar, October 6–9 2004, Daejeon,
Korea), 114.

86 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 266–72.

87 T. Ryu, ‘Hangook mokhwalja insesool e daehayeo’ [Korean Wooden Type
Printing], Minjok munhwa nonui 4
(1983): 112–25; see also Cheon, Hanguk
Seojihak, 412.

76

Song

Fig. 12 Metal type printing. # Cultural Heritage Administration.

wood were that it be soft but strong and of good absorbing quality,
such as white birch, pear, jujube and walnut. Similar to woodblock
preparation, the trunk of a tree was soaked in salted water or hard
water to remove resin and to make it easier to carve, then left to dry in
the shade. If time was pressing, the wood could be steamed instead in
salt water and dried in sunlight. The text was attached face-down to
the stick matrix and the characters were carved as required for the text.
After carving the characters, each type piece was cut down to the right
size using a wire. Finally, all the edges were slightly sanded to make a
uniform height.

88 G. Cho, ‘Joseon hoogi wangshil ui
checkjanggwa jangcheck e gwanhan
yeongu’
[A
Study
of
Court
Bookbinders and Bookbinding in the
Late Joseon Period], Seojihakyeongu 31
(2005): 83–4.

4 Artisans
There are not many historical accounts explaining how artisans
made books. As mentioned earlier, temples played a great role in
bookmaking in Korea, but there are no detailed records regarding
the position of bookbinders within ancient Korean society. In the
process of making books, many different artisans worked together,
among them carvers cutting woodblocks for book covers, others
dying the cover paper and thread. The binder collated and aligned
the text, inserted paper twists into the book paper, cut the text block
to size, lined and cut the book cover and sewed the covers to the
book.88 In the printing process every step had its own specialists,
including assistants to bring the type from its boxes to the
typesetters. Endsheets of books published in temples often mention
he date of publication together with names of the sponsor,

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009

The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding

calligrapher, engraver and monks who made the woodblocks. These
monks also worked as contractors for the local government and
sometimes received commissions from private sponsors.89 Since
Joseon official philosophy was strongly dedicated to the royal
version of Confucianism, with an accent put on social hierarchy, the
artisan profession could not have been highly appreciated. Even
though the government sponsored book publishing, most artisans
making books could not expect good pay.
Modern binding in Korea
In the late nineteenth century, the ‘Hermit Kingdom’ faced the
growing pressure of western demands for trade relations. The
Joseon dynasty tried to censor western ideas and delay the spread of
Catholicism by closing the borders, learning from the example of
China about the danger of foreign invasion and unequal treaties.
Ironically, even though the enclosure originally postponed western
engagement in Korea, it left the country open to yet another threat,
this time from its own neighbour.
Meiji Japan, after rapid modernisation, returned to the 300-yearold plans of invasion and first managed the opening of Korea for
international, i.e. Japanese, trade, then used its territory as a
battleground and eventually, after wining Sino-Japanese and
Russo-Japanese wars, invaded and occupied Korea from 1910 to
1945, effectively terminating the Joseon dynasty and causing the
decline of traditional Korean bookbinding.
Korean books gradually became affected by western style during
the Japanese occupation years. In the late nineteenth century
traditional techniques of Korean bookbinding still existed.
Woodblocks and old type were still used for printing, the printed
sheets contained text lines and outlines and were bound with the fivehole side-stitched binding with an embossed pattern cover. Books
were not bound in a western style until 1910. In popular novels,
traditional designs using symbols, characters or animals appeared on
front covers. Modern iron type made using western technology
imported from Japan gradually replaced the traditional type. Outlines
and text lines slowly disappeared, and instead of paper twists, wire
wrapped with paper was used to bind text blocks.90
In the early twentieth century, a large number of printing and
publishing companies flourished utilising new printing techniques
such as two-colour printing, offset printing and the paper-folding
machine. In the 1930s, western binding became intensely popular
and many famous painters designed new book covers.91 Sadly, the
quality of book paper was far from Goryeo and Joseon period
excellence. Poor-quality newsprint became the major source of
paper, which now causes serious conservation problems.
Fortunately, a few artisans have preserved the old techniques,
carrying their skills into modern times, continuing the traditional
bookbinding methods, taking apprentices and educating the general
public. With the improvement of the economy in recent decades, their
efforts are supported by central and local governments rewarding the
most outstanding with the title of ‘Intangible National Heritage’.
Nonetheless, the process of strengthening and rebuilding the
tradition is a slow one and will certainly require more effort.

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32 No. 1

March 2009

77

89 Cheon, Hanguk Seojihak, 229.

90 S. Yoon, ‘Hanguk gundae doseo
jangjeong guseong e guanhan yeongu’
[A Study of Korean Modern Book
Cover Designs] (master’s thesis,
Department of Industrial Design,
Bugyong University, Busan, 2005), 22–
6.
91 D. Pak, Uri chek ui jangjeonggwa
jangjeonggadul [Korean book cover
designs
and
designers]
(Seoul:
Yeolhwadang, 1999), 15–19.

78

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank my colleagues in the Conservation Center for
Art and Historic Artifacts for their continued support and valuable
advice. Special thanks to Jesse Munn and Hioki Kazuko for their
encouragement and help, to Sonya Lee, Dr Mi Chu and Dr John R.
He´bert at the Library of Congress for their expertise, and to
Professor Park Chisun and Yi Hae-eun at the National Library of
Korea for sharing their knowledge of traditional Korean books.
Abstract
This research project presents the history and characteristics of
traditional Korean books and bookbinding. The article also
discusses some aspects of Chinese books and bookbinding that
bear a particularly important relation to Korean books and form
the origins and development of bookbinding in East Asia. The style
of Korean bookbinding had developed under the influence of
China, but its uniqueness can be recognised in paper, printing
techniques, bookbinding materials and decoration. The Korean
scroll constituted the majority of book formats until the twelfth
century. Concertina binding had been used extensively for
Buddhist texts since the middle of the Goryeo period. Side-stitched
binding became the predominant binding style in Korea from the
thirteenth century, long before it became popular in China. Paper
mulberry was the dominant material for book paper. From the
fourteenth century, the most distinctive feature of Korean publishing was the use of movable metal type, coexisting with the earlier
woodblock printing. Yellow dyed, embossed, decorative covers
and red thread add to the visual characteristics of Korean books.

Re´sume´
«Histoire et caracte´ristiques des livres et des reliures core´ens
traditionnels»
Ce projet de recherche a pour objet l’e´tude de l’histoire et des
caracte´ristiques des livres et des reliures core´ens traditionnels. On
y traite e´galement de quelques aspects des livres et reliures chinois
particulie`rement proches des livres core´ens et qui sont a` l’origine
du de´veloppement de la reliure en Asie de l’Est. La reliure
core´enne s’est de´veloppe´e sous influence chinoise mais pre´sente
des caracte´ristiques propres au niveau du papier, des techniques
d’impression, des mate´riaux de reliure et du de´cor. Le rouleau
core´en constitue le format des livres jusqu’au vingtie`me sie`cle. La
reliure «concertina» ou en accorde´on a e´te´ abondamment utilise´e
pour les textes bouddhiques depuis le milieu de la pe´riode Goryeo.
La reliure broche´e a` fil apparent est devenue le style de reliure
pre´ponde´rant en Core´e a` partir du treizie`me sie`cle, bien avant
qu’elle devienne populaire en Chine. Le papier a` base de muˆrier a`
papier e´tait le principal mate´riau pour le livre papier. A partir du
quatorzie`me sie`cle, la principale particularite´ de l’imprimerie
core´enne fut l’utilisation de caracte`res mobiles en me´tal en meˆme
temps que l’impression xylographique plus ancienne. Les couvertures en relief colore´es en jaune et l’utilisation de fil rouge sont des
caracte´ristiques supple´mentaires des livres core´ens.

Zusammenfassung
¨ cher
‘‘Geschichte und Charakteristika traditioneller koreanischer Bu
und Buchbinderei‘‘
Dieses Forschungsprojekt stellt den geschichtlichen Hintergrund
und die Charakteristika traditioneller koreanischer Buchbinderei

Song

und Bu¨cher dar. Im Artikel werden auch einige Aspekte chinesischer Bu¨cher diskutiert, die in einem besonders relevantem
Verha¨ ltnis zu koreanischen Bu¨ chern stehen, und die den
Herkunfts- und Entwicklungshintergrund der Buchbinderei in
Ostasien darstellen. Der Stil der koreanischen Buchbinderei
entwickelte sich unter dem Einfluß Chinas, aber ihre
Eigensta¨ ndigkeit kommt im verwendeten Papier, in den
Drucktechniken, Buchbindematerialien und Dekorationselementen
zum Ausdruck. Bis in das 12. Jahrhundert bildeten die koreanischen
Rollenformate den Hauptteil der Buchformate; wa¨hrend die
Leporellobindung seit der Mitte der Goryeoperiode fu¨r buddhistische Texte verwendet wurde. Die Seitstichheftung entwickelte sich
seit dem 13.Jahrhundert zum dominanten Bindungsstil in Korea,
lange bevor sie in China verbreitet war. Hauptmaterial fu¨r das
Papier von Bu¨chern waren Maulbeerfasern. Ab dem 14. Jahrhundert
war das Hauptmerkmal koreanischer Buchproduktion der
Gebrauch beweglicher Metalllettern, gleichzeitig mit dem
Gebrauch des Blockdruckverfahrens. Die gelb gefa¨rbten, gepra¨gten,
dekorativen Buchdeckel zusammen mit rotem Faden bestimmen
das Erscheinungsbild koreanischer Bu¨cher.

Resumen
‘‘Historia y caracterı´sticas de los libros y las encuadernaciones
tradicionales de Corea’’
Este proyecto de investigacio´ n presenta la historia y las
caracterı´sticas de los libros y encuadernaciones tradicionales de
Corea. En este documento se analizan algunos aspectos de los
libros y de la encuadernacio´n chinos que guardan una relacio´n
particularmente importante con los libros coreanos y son los que
conforman los orı´genes y el desarrollo de la encuadernacio´n en
Asia Oriental. El estilo de la encuadernacio´n coreana se desarrollo´
bajo la influencia de China, pero sus caracterı´sticas propias pueden
ser reconocidas en el papel, la te´cnica de impresio´n y los materiales
de encuadernacio´n y decoracio´n. Los rollos coreanos constituyeron
el formato de libro mayoritario hasta el siglo XX. La encuadernacio´n ‘en acordeo´n’ fue usada, de forma extensiva, en los textos
budistas desde la mitad del perı´odo Goryeo. Los cosidos laterales
llegaron a ser el estilo de encuadernacio´n predominante en Corea
desde el siglo XIII, mucho antes de que llegaran a ser populares en
China. El papel de la morera fue el material predominante en el
papel de libros. Desde el siglo XIV, la caracterı´stica ma´s distintiva
de las publicaciones coreanas fue el uso de tipos movibles en metal
que coexistı´an con las primeras impresiones en bloques de madera.
Las cubiertas decorativas, ten˜idas en amarillo, en relieve, y con las
hebras rojas, eran caracterı´sticas especı´ficas de los libros coreanos.

Biography
Minah Song received her BA in sociology from Ehwa Women’s
University and MA in East Asian Art History from the Academy of
Korean Studies in Korea. She holds an MA in Conservation from
Camberwell College of Arts, London, and has completed internships at the Hammersmith & Fulham Archives, London; Tate
Britain, London; Library of Congress, Washington DC; and a
fellowship at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. She
was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at Worcester Art Museum. She
is currently a paper conservator in the Conservation Center for Art
and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia, USA.

Contact address
CCAHA
264 South 23rd Street
Philadelphia
PA 19103
USA
Email: mina_song@hotmail.com

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

Vol. 32

No. 1

March 2009


Documentos relacionados


Documento PDF untitled pdf document
Documento PDF epson l210 resett printer pdf
Documento PDF 50 lighting setups for
Documento PDF committee 11 employment of armor in korea vol 2
Documento PDF stitched up
Documento PDF 2013 china report final


Palabras claves relacionadas