Return of the Dragon:
the Northern End of
Peak-of-the-Dao Mountain
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LEFT: the San-shin painting in the Main Hall at Hoe-ryong-sa [Go Back Dragon Temple or Return-of-the-Dragon Temple].  A new Sam-shin-gak is under construction as of 9/02.  The Mountain-spirit sits on the back of his tiger, which is much more typical in Shamanic Korean icons, although it also echos the Chinese tradition of depicting Bodhisattvas mounted on characteristic animals.  CENTER: the North-star-spirit and twin-spirit appearing in the Chil-seong painting.  RIGHT: the Deok-seong, also in the Main Hall, is fairly typical except for the angelic dong-ja offering a holy peach, which would more often be seen in a San-shin icon.
Do-bong-san [Tao-Peak Mountain, or maybe "Mt. Peak-of-the Dao"] is a stunning holy mountain in the north of Seoul.  Other pictures from it are here and here.
ABOVE RIGHT: excellent Shin-jung-taeng-hwa (see pages 113-117 in my book) in the Main Hall of Hoe-ryong-sa, probably late 19th-century. 

ABOVE LEFT: the magnificent San-shin figure standing in the front row of it. 


BELOW RIGHT: the remarkable Yong-wang [Dragon-king of the Waters] from its upper right edge.  He holds a long bamboo spear.

BELOW LEFT:  Yong-wang and San-shin in another, more modern, Shin-jung in the Bodhisattva Hall of the same temple.
ABOVE: the quite typical San-shin of Cheon-gwang-sa [Heavenly Luminesence Temple], a medium-sized Shamanic place.

RIGHT:   the San-shin of Seok-gul-am [Stone Cave Hermitage], a lovely little female-monk refuge just above Hoe-ryong-sa on Do-bong-san.  Fairly typical, but note the classicly-styled tiger and the peaches growing on branches.
A view of Sa-pae-san (552 meters high), the northern-most peak of the Do-bong-san complex, looking north over Uijongbu City (see next page).
The name Hoe-ryong-sa can be translated as "Return-of-the-Dragon Temple", according to the story that it was so named because Joseon Dynasty Founder-King Tae-jo (r. 1392-1398) visited here twice.  Dragons symbolize the awesome power of Heaven and the divine authority of the king himself; powerful kings were often refered to obliquely as "the dragon" all over East Asia. 

Scholar Jeremey Seligson uncovered a more elaborate tale indicating that the translation should be "Go Back Dragon".   Retired King Tae-jo rode out of seclusion in a palanquin toward the capital Han-seong (Great Fortress) from his new home in northern Korea, to admonish his 5th son King Tae-jong (r. 1400-1418).  When the procession reached the ridge that is now the border between Seoul and Uijongbu Cities, a mysterious force suddenly prevented the palanquin from moving any further.  The great-geomancer monk Mu-hak was called down from this temple and prayed for spiritual assistance.  It turned out that the ˇ°mysterious force" was the Dobong-san San-shin telling him to go back home and avoid trouble.  Muhak broke that spell, the Tae-jo ignored the San-shin's advice, and indeed trouble ensued when Tae-jo encountered his son Tae-jong just south of here.  The San-shin's advice to return proved correct, and so Muhak re-named his monastery Go Back Dragon Temple.