• Koguryo and Balhae
  • Tokhung-ri Tomb
Flame Pattern
TitleFlame Pattern
Flame pattern on the ceiling of the main chamber (southern wall)

This is a detailed view of the triangular flame pattern depicted on the parallel supporting stone in the main chamber (southern wall) of Tokhung-ri Tomb. The same flame pattern decoration can be seen on the parallel supporting stones above the eastern, western, and northern walls. Flames symbolize purification and rebirth in Buddhism. Thus, the flame patterns on the ceiling of the tomb can be interpreted as a reflection of the desire to fill the space with the energy of the flame to transform the tomb into a place of purification and rebirth.
The triangular flame patterns in the main chamber are depicted above the joist decoration on the first tier of parallel supporting stones. Depictions of trusses and connecting nodes can be seen between the large and medium-sized joists on the ceiling, and they represent the framework of the roof structure. The flame patterns depicted on the ceiling are interpreted to symbolize the noble couple burning away all earthly sins and desires to be reborn in the Buddhist Land of Bliss.
The triangular flame pattern first appeared as a decorative element in Koguryo tomb murals before Chinese tomb murals and is considered to be a possible indication of Koguryo's influence on Chinese art and culture.