[KS] Percival Lowell

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Thu Apr 16 11:20:47 EDT 2015

In the light of what Robert M. Oppenheim just wrote, how can it be that 
there is not a single academic study about hats then -- after that 
single attempt by Jenings in 1904 to summarize what those early 
travelers had observed? I have not seen any anthropologist, and 
certainly no art historian going beyond Lowell's Bostonian insights 
from the 1880s. Given the emphasis on hats in *many* of the early 
travelogues, and given the outstanding attention (!) and sophistication 
(!) Korean men put into their hats -- Jenings talks about 65 styles for 
men alone -- hat styles probably tell us more about cultural, social, 
and economic change than e.g. changes in what we consider fine arts. 
Yet, all discussion replies on that lead back to the pre-1900s. And 
"Korean studies"?


On Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:26:49 +0000, Robert M Oppenheim wrote:
> Dear Hyung, all,
> Hats were also an obsession of the first U.S. National Museum 
> (Smithsonian) exhibition of Korean items, which was up by 1889 and 
> possibly before based on Bernadou's, Jouy's, and possibly Allen's 
> materials.  Indeed Otis Mason, the main curator, quipped to a 
> reporter that "Korea is the land of hats."  Probably the ultimate 
> source of both the trope and the obsession - or at least this is my 
> guess - is in fact Lowell.  Lowell's book and Bernadou's collection 
> basically arrive at the USNM at the same moment and, on Mason's part, 
> there is this dynamic where Bernadou's materials both act as material 
> confirmation of what Lowell had said and overcome Lowell's purplish 
> prose and flights of fancy.  Still, the short answer is even the 
> "professionals" of the era had more time for Lowell than one might 
> expect, given their otherwise materialist/empiricist bent.
> And yes, then later there is Fo(r)ster Jenings.  Jenings got a lot of 
> help from So Kwangbom, who had remained a "friend of the museum" from 
> his first sojourn in DC in exile in the late 1880s (So, So Chaep'il, 
> and Pyon Su all assisted Mason and Walter Hough, and it seems clear 
> that So Kwangbom was the most closely associated) through his return 
> in 1896.  No idea if So had a hat thing too.
> Rob

Frank Hoffmann

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