We were walking home after a nice cuppa at Le Café du Sablon in Rue de la Régence. As a younger sibling of the uptown Café de la Presse at the far end of Avenue Louise, it shares the same ambiance, mishmash furniture, newspapers dropped casually-on-the-next-table, urbanites looking serious behind top brand laptops and a touch of industrial style, so trendy in Brussels these days.
Besides being a haven for tired legs, in need of a break from treasure hunting in the antique shops and art galleries of Sablon, the place is ideal for people-watching through its large, ceiling-high windows. There was a moment of fleeting excitement when I thought I saw Hozier, but a quick glance at his tour schedule that had him performing in West Palm Beach Florida that same evening, brought me back to my usual quite routine – oh well, I’m not very good with faces anyway.
As we were heading to the metro station something quite unusual caught the corner of my eye, a soft light coming out of a colourful, intricate figure. It was the entrance to the Korean Cultural Centre and, seeing it was still open, we went inside hoping to get a better view, only to discover to our utter delight, that it was actually part of an exhibition of traditional Korean lanterns, by artist Youngil Jeon – delicate, timeless, imbued in colour and thousands of years of history.
Lanterns are made with hanji, a traditional Korean paper. In ancient times, their frame was made with bamboo sticks or bush clovers. Today, they use wire which is easier to produce and handle, but the outer material still remains the same – hanji; for no other paper can diffuse the light and create the radiant, soft glow of a lotus lantern, quite like it.
Korean lotus lanterns were handmade during festive days, to celebrate Buddha’s birth. They brought people together in joy and, for that, they symbolise sharing. Taking this fascinating tradition to heart, I thought I’d share my joy with you:
Spiritual Lights Exhibition is on until 27th June 2015.
Korean Cultural Center
Rue de la Régence 4,
Shared credits for images (Lia & Konstantinos)
Brussels, 2nd May 2015