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Korean Temple Painting

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Asian: Korean: Pre 1900: item # 140810

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Silk Road Gallery
PO Box 2175
Branford, Connecticut 06405, USA
(203) 208-0771

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Korean Temple Painting
Seven Buddhas, each representing a star in the Big Dipper, appear in this very large painting from a Korean Buddhist temple wall, along with a another central Buddha, a god of the sun, god of the moon and eleven Shamanist and Taoist gods. Both the painting itself and the major Buddha figure are called "Chilsong," the Korean name for the Big Dipper. Reverence for celestial bodies was rooted in Taoism and Shamanism, then incorporated into Korean Buddhism. The Big Dipper was regarded as especially important since it is visible year round. It was believed to control both good and bad fortune. In this 19th century stone color on canvas painting, the central Buddha--Chilsong--holds the Buddhist wheel of law, and is accompanied by the sun god on his left and the moon god on his right. Big Dipper paintings were hung in many Korean temples, and always were impressive and colorful with many figures. In this one, the Buddha star deities have green halos and appear at the top of the painting, three on the left, four on the right. All figures on the left side of the painting are in perfect condition; the figures on the right are faded, probably from moisture damage. Also, the paint has flaked on the bottom of the Chilsong Buddha's throne and at the top of the painting just to the right of center. The condition of the painting is shown in detail on the photo enlargements. Dimensions: height 50" (127 cm), width 78" (198 cm).


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