[Living Tradition] Returned to rightful owner
A total of 18 cheonghwa baekja (cobalt blue and white porcelain) epitaph tablets that were once buried in the tomb of a late Joseon (1392-1910) military official named Yi Gi-ha (1646-1718) managed to come back to Korea on Feb. 8 from the United States after being housed at the Cleveland Museum of Art for nearly 24 years. According to the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, the museum decided to return them to Korea now that it knows the rightful owner.
According to the foundation, during the relocation of the tomb in 1994 to be designated as local folkloric heritage, the epitaph plaques got lost and somehow ended up at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which received them as donation in 1998.
The plaques will be donated by the Yi clan to the North Chungcheong Province’s History Museum.
Epitaph tablets are stone or ceramic plaques that list the achievements of a deceased person. Such tablets were used to identify the owner of the tomb and express a clan’s collective homage to the deceased. Placing a set of epitaph tablets with the coffin inside the tomb was an important part of funerary practices during the Joseon Dynasty.
[OVERSEASES CULTURAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION]