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As a medieval rebel artist from Korea, watermelons and mice became famous

It was named in honor of the patron Saint of pregnant women and mothers, but the whole life of Sin Saimdang rebelled against the traditional female role. Excellent education, which was not due to Korean women in the middle ages, the unspoken role of the head of the family, spiritual practices, poems and paintings… in South Korea, she is considered a national heroine and is decorated with portraits of stamps and banknotes. And her drawings of… watermelons and mice became famous.

Sin Saimdang was born in the XVI century in the ancient and noble family of Penson Sin, which composed legends. The ancestor of this family was considered a sharpshooter, who pleased the first king of Korea with his hunting skills, and the descendants, miraculously – all Koreans named Shin. At birth, the Sin Saimdang called In a Dream.

There were no sons in the family, and the maternal grandmother, herself a highly educated and well-read woman, offered to teach her eldest daughter all the Sciences due to an heir. In noble circles, connections on the mother’s side were valued, and In Son’s father listened to his grandmother’s opinion… and gladly agreed. Being a man of outstanding mind, with a broad Outlook, a true intellectual of his time-apolitical and free-thinking-he was eager to pass on his vast knowledge to someone. It didn’t go well with the martial arts, but In Song studied literature, calligraphy, and painting along with “women’s arts”. Her grandmother actively encouraged all her interests. Most of all, the girl liked to draw, and her early talent is legendary – for example, birds tried to eat insects drawn by her. Saimdan – this is her second name, given in honor of the ancient ruler of China, who was famous for her wisdom and explored ways to manage pregnancy, and also, as they would now say, methods of prenatal intelligence development in children.
There was nothing revolutionary or scandalous in the subjects that In Song chose – insects, flowers and birds… But the technique was atypical for a woman. Embroidery was considered acceptable for women’s creativity, and painting was considered a man’s business.

When In Song was nineteen, she was married to a young military man from an equally illustrious family. Since that time, she begins to use mostly my middle name is Samdan. Changing the name was a normal practice for highly educated nobles of the time. The first years of their marriage were marred by quarrels between the newlyweds and problems in the family Samdan. Since her family saw her as the head of the family, after her father’s death, she had to do household chores, make decisions, and take care of her mother and sisters.

The young husband (the great age difference between the newlyweds was forbidden), who did not understand at all what kind of woman he got to marry, took a concubine – by law he had the right to do so, and most wives who did not please their husbands enough simply accepted the situation. But Sin Saimdang, offended by the betrayal, made another gesture, totally inappropriate for women medieval Crust. She… retired to a mountain retreat
Women were prohibited from such practices as traveling alone for considerable distances – for this they were subject to severe punishment, which often ended in the death of the condemned. But Sin Saimdang did not stop. Fortunately, the authorities did not find out about her act, and the husband was shocked by the strength of his wife’s will, and hastened to make peace with her. After some time, Saiman returned home, and later her marriage served as an example of faithfulness, trust and… upbringing of children.

Four sons Saiman and her three daughters were brought up by the canons of the Royal namesake. One of the daughters and a granddaughter of Sin also became famous artists, the sons became famous in the military, politics, and poetry. During the life of Shin Saimdang revered as the mother, who discovered the talents of their children. But, doing the training of heirs, Saiman not forget about creativity. A woman who was successful in a man’s business – it was strange, even indecent. But despite the fact that saimdan’s work was not appreciated by contemporaries at first, there was a lot of talk about It. Soon her fame reached the Royal court. And king Kore himself ordered a porcelain service with her drawings.
About a hundred of her works are known. Sin loved gardening, growing watermelons and eggplants – and, watching the work of their hands, sought to capture the transience of life. She painted garden birds with love, recreating in detail images of tiny insects, the curves of sprouts and shoots.

In European culture, women who had the honor of” treading a path ” into art for other women often left behind many self-portraits. It was not easy for women to find models and sitters, and self-reflection in painting was an accessible way to understand their feelings and aspirations. But self-portraits Sin Saimdang not preserved – and, most likely, they simply did not exist. The ban on portraiture of women (other than the wives of emperors) was so strong at that time that perhaps even lady Saimdan herself could not overcome it. All her portraits are later fiction.

 
Literature classes for Korean women in the middle ages were also considered obscene and were reserved only for courtesans-disenfranchised and not particularly respected. However, Saimdan, who was well versed in Confucian literature, found a way to Express her feelings in verse form. In her surviving poems-longing for dead parents, nostalgia for their native places.
Sin Saimdang died at the age of forty-eight years. Her eldest son had retired to the mountains, suffering the loss.

 
But the real glory came to her… five hundred years later. Her portrait was placed on stamps and banknotes in South Korea, a monument was erected to the artist in Seoul, a magnificent costume drama was dedicated to her life, where the stars of South Korean TV series starred, and Google dedicated an image to her on the start page in honor of her five hundred and tenth birthday. Sin Saimdang think the most famous woman in the history of Korea.

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