The Encyclopedia of Daily Life: A Woman's Guide to Living in Late-Chosŏn Korea
- About the Book
This volume is a fully annotated translation of an early nineteenth-century encyclopedia, the Kyuhap ch’ongsŏ (The Encyclopedia of Daily Life). Written by Lady Yi (1759–1824) as a household management aid for her daughters and daughters-in-law, the work is a treasure trove of information on how women of higher status in the late Chosŏn (1392–1910) ran their households and conducted their daily lives. The encyclopedia opens with lengthy sections on making beverages and brewing a wide array of liquors (as well as remedies for the overconsumption of alcohol) and contains dozens of recipes for dishes ranging from numerous types of kimch’i to confections and rice cakes. The second part of the translation concerns prenatal care, childbirth, childrearing, and first aid for a large number of afflictions and medical conditions.
An extensive introduction will help readers understand the times in which Lady Yi wrote her encyclopedia and the influences that fostered her love of scholarship. The work demonstrates the full sweep of her authority in the domestic sphere and the many aspects of day-to-day life that women needed to prepare for and manage. Her mastery of East Asian cosmology comes across clearly in her use of this knowledge to account for the workings of the world, the processes required to take care of one’s body, and interactions between humans and the natural world.
The Encyclopedia of Daily Life will be an important reference for those studying medicine, botany, and the preparation of foodstuffs in premodern East Asian societies. It will also be a valuable linguistic reference to the Korean language during the late Chosŏn.
- About the Author(s)