Monday, August 13, 2007

Hyonmu (tortoise and snake)

Hyonmu (tortoise and snake), one of the four gods, in a Kangso Tumulus

Koguryo was the first feudal state in the history of Korea (100 B.C. - 668 A.D.), and its tomb murals are the oldest paintings still in existence on the Korean Peninsula and are one of the paragons of the Oriental paintings of the early middle ages in their technique and accuracy.

Four gods represent the four directions of north, south east and west. Koguryo people regarded them as guardian deities and symbols of the safety of tumuli. Chongryong (blue dragon) guards the east, while Paekho (white tiger) defends the west, Chujak (red sparrow), the south, and Hyonmu (tortoise only or tortoise and snake) the north.

Copyright © 1997 The People's Korea. All rights reserved.

Genbu, AKA Xuan Wu


Genbu: a black tortoise representing winter and the north

This is Genbu, one of four gods which came to Japan from China. They are scarcely remembered at all today except in various fantasy mangas...

Genbu is a black tortoise representing winter and the north. Genbu is said to have done battle with a serpent, and is frequently shown either entwined with the snake or - as here - with the snake on his back.

Po Kong Temple, Oakland, CA

Po Kong Temple on MacArthur in Laurel District, Oakland, CA

Black tortoise-snake in the north

Mirror with Geometric Patterns and the Four Spirits

(Kyoto National Museum)

This Mirror with Geometric Patterns and the Four Spirits is an example of a type of mirror that was made in great numbers in China from the end of the Early Han Dynasty to the Late Han Dynasty (from about the 1st Century B.C. to the 2nd Century A.D.), which corresponds to the Japanese Yayoi Period. Many of these mirrors were brought into Japan by way of Korea.

The blue dragon represents constellations in the east, the white tiger in the west, the red bird in the south and the black tortoise-snake in the north (at top of picture).

Copyright Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Paper house with Joss paper

The paper house, with joss paper thrown all over and personal belongings in boxes in the front.

"It was supposed to be the ceremony for my ancestors (specifically, my great grand parents, grand parents and an aunt). So if you have read my earlier blog complaining about a certain someone that was the 20th May.

The ceremony is called Gong Teck in Hokkien which roughly translates to 功德 in Chinese which means passing of merits to our deceased ancestors"