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Minhwa: Capturing Korean Beauty on Screen

Minhwa: Capturing Korean Beauty on Screen

Called Peony in English, I drew this beautiful pair of flowers and a butterfly in the style of minhwa, a Korean folk art.

What makes this minhwa of peony with butterflies (화접도: Hwajeobdo) so interesting is the story behind this art, which questions what is considered the truth and our perception of beauty.

When a minhwa of peony with neither butterflies nor bees drawn on (모란꽃: Moranggot) were gifted to the Queen Seondeok (the first reigning queen in the Korean history), she said, “This flower must not have any scent.”

When asked why, she explained how neither butterflies nor bees can be seen on this minhwa. According to the story, this flower really had no fragrance like she has said. It was one of the moments where her wisdom reflected through the history of paintings.

From what I heard, however, peony does have a particular soft, calming, and floral fragrance. I will have to go find one to confirm whether this story is true or not.

Another thing that makes this minhwa so interesting is the meaning behind the flowers and the butterfly.

Peony here holds the meaning of wealth and butterfly here means longevity up to 80 years old.

Based on these meanings, some artists are claiming that these peonies and butterflies shouldn’t be drawn together because it would then mean that great wealth can only be pursued until 80 years in age.

The true meaning and beauty in this case has gone misunderstood however. Living until the age of 80 years of age back then was rare. Thus, wealth until 80 years really means great wealth until the end of your life.

As the peony has a fragrance for sure, it will attract beautiful butterflies and bees. They do go along together as its beauty attract beautiful things.

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