National Intangible Cultural Property No.47 Gungsijang


Everlasting Legacies of Korea

National Intangible Cultural Property No.47 Gungsijang +

Classification Intangible Cultural Property / Traditional Technology / Craft
Designated date 1971.9.13
location Gita
Gungsijang refers to the skill of making bows and arrows, or to such an artisan. A bow-making artisan is called gungjang and an arrow-making artisan is sijang in Korean. It is said that Koreans have displayed particularly excellent skills in the production of bows and arrows. In ancient times, the Chinese called Koreans Dongi, meaning people in the east skillful in archery and the production of bows. The shape of bows used in Goguryeo (37 BC – 660 AD) can be seen in murals dating from the period. They look similar to those used nowadays and so it is thought that the traditional bows have been handed down with no noticeable changes. Even during the Goryeo (877 – 1394) and Joseon (1392 – 1910) Periods, archery was regarded as an important skill. In the early Joseon Period, archery was one of the subjects that applicants for a state-administered exam for recruitment of military officers had to pass. With the introduction of matchlock rifles during the Japanese Invasion of Korea (1592 – 1598), bows ceased to function as a weapon. Bamboo or mulberry wood, water buffalo horn and ox sinew were used in the production of bows. Korean bows were made with ox horn and sinews. They could send arrows a long distance. The body of the bow was mainly made of oak and mulberry wood, and bamboo is also used to increase the tensile strength. To make the bowstring and the parts for connecting it to the body, ox sinew, ox horn and yellow croaker glue were used. Bows were not made in summer, as the stickiness of yellow croaker glue is reduced in hot and humid weather. Tools used to make the bows were saw, plane, wood hammer, file, knife, awl, wood pincer, wood comb, and metal comb. Types of arrows included mokjeon (wood arrows), cheoljeon (metal arrows), yejeon (long arrows used in special events), sejeon (thin arrows), and yuyeopjeon (willow leave-shaped arrows). Bush clover wood, bamboo, metal pieces, bird feathers, pear skin and glue were used in the production of arrows, which were made throughout the year.


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