Korean Art and Korean Antiques
Set of Four Korean Wooden Chicken Guardian Figures

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Korean: Sculpture: Pre 1910: item # 803338

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Set of Four Korean Wooden Chicken Guardian Figures

Because it was believed that the rooster's morning cry drove away the night's evil spirits, an important talisman to ward off evil spirits was wood-carved roosters and chickens. They are a very important icon in traditional Korean folk art and in Korean tradition in general. The rooster’s comb symbolizes intelligence; traditional officials’ hats are based on the comb. The claws mean strength. The hen and rooster together mean fertility. The rooster was called the 'clock bird' and was sacred to Koreans. This polychromed wood set of four, two roosters and two hens, are really a rare and beautiful example of Korean Folk Art at its very best. They were used as funerary figures (kokdu) on a funeral bier. Traditionally, these figures would be burned after their use, but thankfully this set survived the pyre and what was intended to be an ephemeral existence. They were removed to the home and used as good luck and guardian figures to bless and protect the home. The Seoul Museum of Chicken Art, by the way, is a must-see for anyone traveling to Korea. Roosters: 17.5 x 9.5 inches, 44.5 x 24 cm; Hens: 14 x 7 inches, 35.5 x 18 cm.

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