|Folk-religion on the Eastern Side
of Moak-san [Mother-Peak Mtn.]
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|LEFT: the excellent antique San-shin of Jeong-gak-sa was painted in 1908, accoring to the rare record at its bottom. The tiger glares up at a bird in the tree, a favoite old Korean folk-painting motif. A gaudy statue distracts attention in front; the looped-top staff and one-leg-up posture are uncommon.
ABOVE: the Deok-seong [Lonely Saint, a magic-working disciple of Buddha] painting is younger, but also excellent. The boy offers a green-tea set while a blue-bird flies above (mate is on the rock).
|Mo-ak-san, whose ancient-style name implies that this peak is a Mother-Goddess, is one of the holiest mountains in Korea despite being only 794 meters high (west of the Sobaek range, that's pretty tall, and there are few other high peaks around, so it's prominent). Just south of Jeonju City in North Jeolla Province, it is now a Provincial Park, quite famous for hosting Keumsan-sa [Golden-Mountain Temple] and other sacred sites on its western slopes. There is nothing in particular on the southern side (very rare! don't know why; perhaps a lack of water), and the eastern side is less-visited. At the eastern entranceway, the Moak-san Mountain-climbing Club has erected a large sign reading "Love Dan-gun (Korea's founder-King, retired as a San-shin), Love the Nation" and a unique 3-sided bi-seok monument (three is the most sacred number to Koreans). A bit further on is Daewon-sa [Great-Origin Temple], seen here from up the trail.|
|The Mountain-spirit Shrine at the rear of Daewon-sa houses TWO fine San-shin paintings. In the one on left, a mother-tigress licks her cub, following the theme of the mountain. San-shin wears an official's hat decorated with the Sun & Moon (eum-yang or yin-yang symbols) and a white-crane court-rank patch on his chest (very rare). The boy behind him holds FIVE iconic items (staff, ginseng, bullocho, immortal peaches and flowers), which sets a record in my collection! The girl offers a cut watermelon, a fertility symbol. In the right painting san-shin symbols are also abundant; the pair of cranes are especially well-done.|
|ABOVE: Jeong-gak-sa is way uphill on Kyeong-gak-san [Luminous Shrine Mountain], which rises 660 meters just east of Moak-san itself. The back of its' Sam-seong-gak [Three Sages Shrine] features four paintings with San-shin and Shin-seon [Spirit-Immortal] themes.
LEFT: the signboard of Jeong-gak-sa's Sam-seong-gak has excellent calligraphy, signed by the artist (very rare).