KPC3639-3642: Repatriated Cultural Heritage

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(News from 우정사업본부 / KoreaPost) On 22 February 2023 KoreaPost issued a stamp issue commemorating “Repatriated Cultural Heritage”. The stamps were also issued in a minisheet of 4 x 4 stamps of 430 won each. The stamps were printed by Royal Johan Enschedé for POSA.

KoreaPost released the following English language text for this issue:

Korea suffered great loss of its precious cultural heritage smuggled out of the country during its modern history tainted by the Japanese occupation, the Korean War, and other disturbances. Experts believe that a total of about 229,000 artifacts of Korean cultural heritage are scattered outside Korea as of 2023. Korea Post is issuing the commemorative stamps Repatriated Cultural Heritage in partnership with the Cultural Heritage Administration featuring four valuable items of Korea`s repatriated cultural heritage.

`Lacquered Box Inlaid with Mother-of-Pearl Chrysanthemum and Scroll Design` is one of the four cases that form a set of lacquered box inlaid with mother-of-pearl flower decoration. Measuring 9.7 cm in length and 3.5 cm in height, this exquisite floral box was repatriated in 2020 after it was purchased from a Japanese collector. It is known that there are only three of its kind remaining today that retain their original condition. This particular artifact, which dates back to the 12th century when Goryeo-era art of lacquerware with inlaid mother-of-pearl decoration reached the highest pinnacle of its fame, received great praise from connoisseurs for its aesthetic perfection, extreme precision, and exquisite value.

`Buddhist Bell from Naksujeong Pavilion` was repatriated in 1999, seventy years after it was smuggled out of Korea during the Japanese occupation (1910–1945), after it was donated by a Japanese collector who had inherited it from her father. Experts believe from the similarity of its form with the temple bells of Unified Silla that the bell was cast sometime between the mid-10th and early 11th century. The bell retains its original form almost intact except for the “dragon loop” which is slightly damaged, and is regarded as a valuable source for the study of the Korean Buddhist temple bells created between late Unified Silla and early Goryeo.

`Transcription of Saddharmapundarika Sutra (The Lotus Sutra) in Silver on Indigo Paper (Vol. 5),` the fifth of seven Mahayana sutras, is a Goryeo-era (918–1392) artifact was written by a scribe using silver ink. Purchased in 2019 from an American collector, it is highly regarded particularly due to the frontispiece being preserved almost intact, retaining the characteristic features of Goryeo-era Buddhist scriptural illustrations of the late 14th century.

`Gil Bronze Portable Shrine and Gilt Silver Seated Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva` was donated to the National Museum of Korea in 2018, celebrating the 1,100th anniversary of the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392), after it was purchased from a Japanese art collector by the Young Friends of the Museum (YFM). Of the two, the portable Buddhist shrine, typically made from wood, stone or metal for the enshrinement of a Buddhist statuette, is regarded as a valuable source for the study of Korean Buddhist art and metalcraft. This particular shrine is conjectured to be a work of the 14th century and used to enshrine the statuette of Avalokiteshvara that was repatriated along with the shrine.

The repatriation efforts of Korea`s cultural heritage overseas is often entangled with difficult problems due to the complex political, economic and cultural relationships between the nations concerned. We hope this commemorative stamps featuring four precious artifacts of repatriated cultural heritage serve as an opportunity to increase public interest in the repatriation of Korea`s cultural heritage scattered outside Korea.

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