Carver: Paul Kim
History of a Korean Pou
The Korean pou which is called Jang Seung has over two thousand years of history. Originally jang seung meant 'long wooden pou' which was placed at the entry of a town or village as a boundary marker, a milestone to help people find their way. It was also a guardian of towns or villages to ward off bad spirits. It had an angry looking face to scare off those who came to attack the town and defended it against the enemy.
The jang seung was also called a 'heroic man', which people used to wish their hopes and future on - it was like a religion to some people.
Now days they are made out of stones. They used to be carved them from pine and chestnut trees.
Today in Korea people place a jang seung at the gates of large places to indicate entrances. People still believe the old sayings, that the jang seung will guard the place. Once the jang seung is in position a big celebration is held with a sacrifice to the gods to ensure good things to happen in the future.
This pou at the entry to the Whangārei Central Library shows a Korean man and woman dressed in a 'han-bok', traditional Korean clothes. There is a Korean flag on top of the man's head.
The design incorporates both New Zealand and Korean cultures with a cloud, representing New Zealand’s land of the long white cloud and a dragon which is a symbol of Korea, carved at the bottom of the pou.