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A Study on the 16th Century Food Culture of Chosun Dynasty Nobility in "Miam's Diary"

『미암일기(眉巖日記)』분석을 통한 16세기 사대부가(士大夫家) 음식문화 연구 - 정묘년(丁卯年)(1567년(年)) 10월(月)~무진년(戊辰年)(1568년(年)) 9월(月) -

  • Received : 2013.07.17
  • Accepted : 2013.08.26
  • Published : 2013.10.30

Abstract

The aim of this study was to establish the identity of Korean traditional food based on the recorded food preferences during the period of the Chosun Dynasty. Our primary source in this regard was the invaluable, historical document called the "Miam's diary." This important document reveals details of such food preferences from October 1567 to September 1568. By analyzing the income-expenditure trends of virtually every household, this diary was used to describe a vivid traditional food preference of the people during that period. A detailed analysis of the diary reveals the summary of families' characteristics in the 16th century. First, it records the fact that expenditure on food was mainly based on stipend and gifts received. The type of food preferred by the people was diverse in nature; for it included rice, bean, chicken, pheasant, and seafood. However, there were dried or pickled forms too so as to prevent them from undergoing decay. Second, it throws light on the fact that people expended food mainly as a salary for servants. People utilized the income from selling such food items to purchase goods and land. They also used the same either to donate for a funeral or wedding purpose. Third, it records the fact that day-to-day purchase of groceries was mostly based on gift(s) for someone close to them such as a neighbor, colleague, relative, or student. Further, such gifts included small groceries, food items, and clothes. Fourth, based on the data available in the diary, it seemed likely that the gentry families laid emphasis on the customary formalities of a family dating back to as early as the late 16th century. Finally, the document also records the fact that noblemen of the Chosun Dynasty had a notion that they had to extend warmth and affection by presenting generous gifts to their guests at home. Noblemen during that period were very particular in welcoming their guests as they believed that this approach alone would testify their status as noblemen.

Keywords

Miam's diary;food culture;Chosun dynasty;nobility;16th century

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