“Chonsuguksujang” is a handicraft legacy which demonstrates the high level of our national culture in the period of the Three Kingdoms.
“Chonsuguksujang”, which was produced by some craftsmen in Koguryo, Paekje and Silla in the early seventh century, is the oldest of all existing embroideries in the world. It is a long piece of cloth embroidered with a paradise. At first, it was about 4.8 meters long by 1.2~1.5 meters wide. Later, it was torn into pieces and now several pieces are found in Junggung Temple, Popryung Temple, Jongchang Temple and other places in Japan.
About 100 turtlebacks and an excellent composition of 4 letters on each one, that is, 400 letters in all, were embroidered, but now only a few turtlebacks and letters can be seen.
When Japanese Crown prince Song Tok, who was active in introducing Korean culture from the end of the sixth century to the beginning of the seventh century, died in 622, his wife had it produced wishing his happiness in the other world, stricken with grief over his death.
The original picture was painted by Ka So Il from Koguryo and its embroidery and supervisory were all done by Koreans. On the purple and yellow silk cloth of “Chonsuguksujang” are embroidered a paradise made up of characters, palaces, Buddhist images, flowers, rabbits, the moon, a phoenix, lotus flowers, liana patterns, etc. and turtles with letters on their backs in coloured thread such as white, red, green, blue, light green, etc. Several elements ― jogori and skirts worn by the characters, the moon portrayed as rabbits pounding in a mortar, the shape of lotus flowers, liana patterns, gabled belfry buildings, etc. ― are in good accordance with a number of Koguryo mural paintings.
In conclusion, “Chonsuguksujang” is a piece of handiwork that demonstrates the standard of cultural development of our country of that time.
Pak Sin Jong, researcher at the Academy of Social Sciences