Jiseung, or Korean paper basketry, is an indigenous art form practiced in Korea for centuries and is sometimes referred to as noyeokgae. It involves twisting and twining lengths of hanji (Korean paper) into objects needed in households. Beyond using long lengths of corded hanji for rope, which were turned into mesh bags and undergarments, hanji twists were woven into vessels, mats, tea tables, pillowcases, shoes, quivers, brush holders, baskets, wallets, backpacks, purses, lanterns, chamber pots, bowls, and teapots.


Institutional and human capacities Because the main material for jiseung is hanji, it is closely tied to craft and art where paper appears in Korea. Objects reside in museums and some personal collections (the largest owned by the late Kim Kyung), but many have been lost to nature, time, war, and modernization. Small groups of artists sometimes gather to work on and share jiseung work, as well as exhibit it together.
Transmission and education Jiseung is not formally incorporated in any Korean educational settings but rather taught in workshop settings to those who are interested, often at locations that also support hanji. In the past, jiseung was passed down in families, while later some individuals taught private lessons.
Inventorying and research There has been limited jiseung research, mostly due to the difficulty of accessing both objects and experts. While it is not listed as a national ICH in Korea, on the provincial level it is recognized. Choi Young-joon is the Chungcheongnam-do ICH for jiseung and practices in Hongseong County.
Awareness raising In the film Hanji by Im Kwon-taek, a woven hanji chamber pot made using jiseung techniques features as a prop in the plot. Aimee Lee has written about jiseung in her book, Hanji Unfurled, and also created a booklet to teach the basic weaving in the round techniques in Welcome to Jiseung.
Engagement of communities, groups and individuals as well as other stakeholders Master teachers and practitioners include Na Seo-hwan in Gangwon Province and Lee Hye-ran in North Chungcheong Province. A couple in Wonju, Kang Sung Hee & Lee Eun Young, practice both jiseung and lacquer crafts and offer to teach anyone who is willing to learn in Wonju. Na Seo-hwan also owns a collection of hanji artifacts that were collected by an American and brought to Texas. When he passed away, curator and scholar Richard Mellott saved the baskets, especially those made with paper, for safekeeping. He eventually sold the collection to Mr. Na, and besides standard vessels, it includes a rare document holder.
International engagement Aimee Lee, an American citizen, studied jiseung extensively with Na Seo-hwan and wrote about jiseung in the sixth chapter of her book about hanji, called Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking. She has taught jiseung to students in the US and internationally and represents the craft to English-speaking audiences. Her video about jiseung starring Mr. Na has garnered over 2.5 million viewers and countless people access her knowledge to learn further about the craft and culture. The Victoria & Albert Museum holds jiseung jars by artist Lee Young Soon. Jiseung artifacts exist in some museum collections, including a set of lacquered tea cups and saucers in the Peabody Essex museum, and a square footed tray in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
References Hanji Unfurled book: https://www.oakknoll.com/pages/books/138599/aimee-lee/hanji-unfurled-one-journey-into-korean-papermaking Hanji Unfurled information: https://aimeelee.net/hanjiunfurled/ Information about ICH bearer Choi Young-joon: https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/2972234#home Jiseung Jejo book (in Korean) featuring Choi Young-joon: https://minsokwon.com/booklist/book_specific.asp?bookno=1664 Jiseung video by Aimee Lee featuring Na Seo-hwan: https://youtu.be/HRV3v9eAWqs Images of visit to Lee Hye-ran: https://aimeelee.net/eumseong-jiseung-2014/ Images of visit to Kang Sung Hee & Lee Eun Young: https://aimeelee.net/wonju-trip-may-2009/ Images of 2014 jiseung study with Na Seo-hwan: https://aimeelee.net/jiseung-in-the-mts-2014/ Jiseung article in Kyoto Journal by Aimee Lee: https://www.kyotojournal.org/renewal/jiseung/ Welcome to Jiseung booklet: https://aimeelee.net/welcome-to-jiseung/
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