Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Friday, January 28, 2011

In the Land of Dragons: Painted Dragons

South Korea is dragon country.  Dragons in South Korean lore are not the flying, fire-breathing, princess-eating, gold-loving types.  In fact, the notion of dragons in South Korea is nearly opposite of the European idea of dragons.  South Korean dragons bring good luck.  Instead of lighting castles on fire, Korean dragons are meant to deter fire.  Most of the dragons in South Korea don't even have wings.  They are slithery serpeants with legs and feet.

This is Part One of In the Land of Dragons: Painted Dragons.  Dragons are painted as protective spirits on eaves, beams, and ceilings of important structures.  These photos were taken during my visits to various temples, shrines and palaces in South Korea.

Smoke breathing dragon face in the beams of Chungnyeolsa Shrine
Painted dragon incorporated into the royal furniture at Suwon Palace.

Suwon Palace

A ceiling at one of the gates at Suwon Fortress

Dragon-faced window panels at Suwon Fortress

Faded dragon-faced wall panels at Suwon Fortress

Eaves outside main entrance at Tangeumdae Buddhist Temple

Ceiling of small forest temple outside of Chungju

Outside of the main door of a Buddhist Temple near Chungnyeolsa Shrine.

The back of the same dragon at the main door of the Buddhist Temple near Chungnyeolsa Shrine

A beam inside the Buddhist Temple near Chungnyeolsa Shrine

Part Two of this article will feature Stone Dragons. 

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting story and nice pictures!
    I like Tangeumdae Buddhist Temple dragon head.
    Japanese thinking and South Korean thinking about dragon might be similar.