National Intangible Cultural Property No. 74 Daemokjang (a master carpenter building a traditional Korean wood building)

K-CULTURAL HERITAGE

Everlasting Legacies of Korea

National Intangible Cultural Property No. 74 Daemokjang (a master carpenter building a traditional Korean wood building) +

Classification Intangible Cultural Property / Traditional Technology / Architecture
Designated date 1982.6.1
location Others
Daemokjang refers to a master carpenter in charge of the complete process of building a traditional Korean wood building (such as a royal palace, temple or military facility), including the design, trimming of wood, and overall supervision. The name Daemokjang was coined to distinguish it from Somokjang (Wood Furniture Making).

Daemokjang controlled the roof tile maker, porters, masons, the plasterer, and the dancheong (ornamental painting) painter. Wood architecture developed early in the country. Olden-day royal palace and temple buildings were all built of wood.

Carpenters were hired as government officials. According to records, 70 officials of the Unified Silla Period (668 – 935) were carpenters, and the tradition continued during the Goryeo (877 – 1394) and Joseon (1392 – 1910) Periods. During the Joseon Period, 60 carpenters were officials belonging to Seongonggam (Office of Civil Engineering and Building Repair). Records of Renovation of Sungnyemun Gate (also called Namdaemun) written during the reign of King Sejong (r. 1418 – 1450) tell us that Daemokjang was a Grade-5 official. The tradition of hiring carpenters as government officials was stopped toward the late Joseon Period.

Today, the skills of Daemokjang are used only in limited areas, such as building a temple or private house.

The skills of Daemokjang are strictly handed down. Among carpenters, Daemokjang is regarded as the person with absolute authority, and is instrumental in the adoption of new skills.

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