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Old 6th September 2022, 01:53 AM   #1
DaveA's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 413
Default Eunjangdo, from Korea

Hello All,

I acquired this eunjangdo knife recently. I welcome your comments on the item or the cultural role it played in Korea. There is not much info in the forum on eunjangdo, which was a surprise to me.

The blade in its sheath is small, easily fitting in the palm of the hand. with good weight. The steel blade is well-forged, showing folding, and is very sharp. The hilt and scabbard appear to be good quality solid silver, not sheet silver. I have not yet tested it. The pieces fit together precisely and firmly. The hilt and scabbard are decorated with engraved floral patterns. On each side of the sheath a small chrysanthemum emblem is found. I have not yet translated the engraving on the blade.

Jangdo is the general term in Korean for an ornamental knive with sheath carried in clothing. The eunjungdo, however, also had a strong symbolic and functional role. The knife was carried by women for self-defense and as a symbol of unwavering fidelity and fillial duty to husband, parents, in-laws and sons. For men, the eunjando is a symbol of loyalty.

The custom of carrying a eunjangdo is reported to have originated in Korea during the Joseon Dynasty (c. 1392-1897). Due to the importance of silver, common people were prohobited from being worn by the common people, but the prohibition had limited effect. The custom continued during the subsequent Korean Empire and effectively ended as common practice during the occupation of Korea by Japan. Nevertheless, it remains an important cultural asset. Eunjangdo are reportedly made only by a handful of master craftsmen today.

Attached to the scabbard is a Norigae (Korean: 노리개), a traditional decorative pendant or tassel and good luck charm. A norigae was an heirloom and passed down to descendants. The knots in this norigae are symbolic of Buddhism. This may indicate the norigae, and perhaps the eunjangdo as well, was made during the Korean Empire period or later. The Joseon Dynasty promoted Confucianism and discouraged Buddhism.

These are the seller's photos.
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eunjangdo, korea

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