|19th-Century San-shin Mountain-Spirit Painting
Boryeong City Seongju-san Baegun-sa
The White Cloud Temple
original enshrinement and artist unknown
700 meters up a steep, narrow, twisting cemented road, this isolated modern Jogye-Order hermitage
contains an extraordinary treasure, normally hidden from public view. In the Residential Hall,
normally off-limits to outsiders, is this axillary shrine, featuring a wooden Amita-bul statue, a small
Dokseong statue, other icons and a magnificent 19th-Century Sanshin painting!
This mountain-king is rather sad-looking, for unknown reasons, but jaunty in a blue regal-Daoist cloud-cap.
He holds a sprig of coral from the ocean, a bit like an animal-horn, which is very rare but not unique. There is
a mantle of palowina leaves on his shoulders, and also around the waist of one of the dongja, signifying his
link to Korea's Founding-King Dan-gun. There are four dongja (3 boys & a girl), a high number for an antique
icon, offering herbs and fruits of fertility and immortality; note the charming lotus-leaf hat on one of the boys,
a folk-buddhist motif. The tiger is excellently crazy, absurdly fat and covered in leopard spots -- displaying all
the best aspects of Korean folk-tiger paintings that Zo Zayong loved so much. Altogether, one of the most
valuable antiques I've ever found in all these years of hunting...!