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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

The Distinctive Paintings of the Sun God and Moon Goddess in the Ancient Ohoebun Goguryeo Tombs

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2020, v.60 no.2, pp.219-241
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2020.60.2.219


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Abstract

The murals of Tomb No. 4 of the Ohoebun Goguryeo cemetery, in Ji’an City of presentday People’s Republic of China, display the sun god, Haesin, and the moon goddess, Dalsin. They play the role of mediators or intermediate beings, like shamans, connecting humans on earth and the gods in the sky. This study aims to trace the vitality of Haesin and Dalsin, whose faces are painted with extraordinary realism. The vitality of the paintings and their peculiar energy reflect the artist’s accomplishment. The murals show that the painter believed in animism and that all things were alive. As the Mongolian and Siberian tribes shared the common belief system of shamanism, the Goguryeo people believed in a mixture of Taoism, Buddhism, and shamanism. In particular, the vitality of the realistic faces combined with symbolism connecting the visible and invisible worlds, are characteristics of the Haesin and Dalsin images. This study suggests that the artist’s integrative perception of visual literacy (an ability to see and use images) was a key factor in making the murals look alive, which stemmed from the animistic, shamanistic, and monistic worldviews of the artist, who projected the belief system of the Goguryeo people on to the images.

keywords
Ohoebun Goguryeo tomb murals vitality of Haesin and Dalsin Korean art history animistic world view shamanism visual literacy

Korea Journal