Reading Barbarians Hunting Screens:
How the Manchus Were Viewed and Visualized in Late Choson Korea
The second Manchu invasion of Korea in the winter of 1636-1637 left an enormous impact on late Choson society. After holding out against the Manchu army, King Injo (r. 1623-1649) eventually surrendered to Hong Taiji (r. 1626-1643). The king’s surrender was considered a tragic event of national humiliation and gave rise to an intense hostility toward the Manchus. Anti-Manchu sentiments remained strong until the late eighteenth-century when Koreans came to accept the reality of Manchu rule. It is exactly during this time that screens presenting barbarians hunting animals began to be painted and gained popularity. The “barbarians hunting” screens showed Koreans’ growing ethnographic interest in the Manchus. Fascination with the hunting activities of the Manchus was inseparable from Koreans’ changing attitudes toward Qing China from resentment to acknowledgement. This talk explores how the Manchus were recognized in late Choson Korea by examining the historical and cultural significance of the screens. This lecture was co-sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies.