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.

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