Heavenly-Protection Mountain:
North Jeolla's Cheon-ho-san
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Cheon-ho-san lies on the remote eastern side of Iksan City, an
industrial center in the north-eastern corner of North Jeolla
Province.  There have been Buddhist temples here since the Baekje
Dynasty, tho every building now found there is post-Korean-War.  At
Munsu-sa [Boddhisattva of Wisdom Temple] I found a new
Sam-shin-gak with a very nice old San-shin painting framed behind a
cheap gaudy statue.  Those black flying things are butterflys!
At Baek-un-sa [White Clouds Temple] this top-quality antique San-shin and
Deok-seong matched-set were discovered in the unusual new two-storey
Sam-shin-gak (the lower floor seems used as residence for worshippers doing
multi-day Spirit-prayers).  The leapord-spots on this tiger are vivid, totally
replacing any stripes.  The fan held by Deok-seong is very refined, delicate,
feminine -- seems Chinese.  It's quite unusual for him to hold a fan at all.  
The two figures are in identical postures.
At Baek-ryeon-am [White Lotus
Hermitage], a sub-temple of
Baek-un-sa, San-shin wears a
Chinese-style red cap and a blue robe
(both quite unusual) and is reading a
book! (extremely rare outside of North
Kyeongsang Province).  I don't know if
this book is intended to be a Buddhist
Sutra or other sacred text; the elderly
nun there could not tell me.  The
dongja-boy holds a leaf-fan.  In the
Seven-stars-spirit painting (right), the
North-star Spirit boasts an
extrordinary elongated head, kind of
breast-like, while wearing a Taoist
cloud-shawl.
At the small
Beom-il-jeong-sa in the
western entranceway to
Cheon-ho-san, the rather
strange San-shin painting is
enshrined right next to
Mireuk-bosal [the one who
will come as a Buddha in
the future] -- again giving
San-shin equal status with
Buddhism's highest deities.  
Compare with the statue
near the bottom of
this page.
The small neo-shamanic Cheon-il-sa [Heaven-First Temple] is way up the
mountain on a really steep bad dirt road, very difficult to get to!  Inside
the shabby Main Hall, a good San-shin painting features one of the
boy-dongjas offering a unique golden rooster-head teapot.  In front to the
right is a bronze statue of Jijang-bosal, the Boddhisattva who rescues
suffering souls from Hell.  On his right is the Chil-seong painting; you
can just barely see the North-Star Spirit next to Jijang's face.  Outside
(Left photo) we can see a group of Korean women gathered for San-shin
worship at the cliff-front shrine.
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