• Koguryo and Balhae
  • Anak Tomb No. 3
Eastern Wall of the Eastern Gallery - Procession - Swordsmen 1
TitleEastern Wall of the Eastern Gallery - Procession - Swordsmen 1
Eastern Wall of the Eastern Gallery - Procession

This is the grand procession depicted on the eastern wall of the gallery in Anak Tomb No. 3. This mural is universally considered to be the prime example of all Koguryo era tomb murals. Its massive scale and detailed depictions are unrivaled by any other murals from Northeast Asia in the same period. This impressive procession was depicted from a perspective that overlooks the entire scene, similar to an aerial view, for a clear line of sight to all the figures in the mural.
The mural can be divided into two halves, the front and rear of the procession. The front half of the procession features a three-line formation of Royal Attendants. All Royal Attendants are on horseback, and valets can be seen tending to the Royal Attendants in the center line. The nobleman's ox carriage can be seen in the back of the center line several rows behind the lead standard-bearer. A ceremonial band is marching in front of the ox carriage, and standard-bearers, maids, and equestrian civil servants can be seen trailing behind. Armored Koguryo infantry and cavalrymen are safely escorting the nobleman's carriage. Infantry include lancers, swordsmen, axmen, and archers. Heavily-armored lancers can be also seen on horseback throughout the procession. Shield-carrying spearmen, in groups of seven, can be seen near the center in the outermost lines of the formation. Four mounted Gaemamusas (iron-armored lancers) are following directly behind the spearmen. Gaemamusas were a core part of Koguryo military. They can be seen flanking the ox carriage in the outermost lines, shielding the nobleman in the procession. A pair of swordsmen followed by five axmen can be seen on either side of the ox carriage. Two groups of four archers are marching directly next to the nobleman's ox carriage. The Koguryo military was regarded as the most powerful in all of East Asia during the King Gwanggaeto period of the 5th century. Thankfully, this mural in Anak Tomb No. 3 is able to provide modern-day viewers with a glimpse of the Koguryo military.
The ceremonial band is another noteworthy aspect of the procession depicted in Anak Tomb No. 3. The band is divided into two groups, each in the front and back of the nobleman's carriage. The marching band in front is comprised of drummers and bell players. In the rear, a drummer, horn flutist, and pan flutist can be seen riding on horseback. This combination of musicians playing percussion and wind instruments is collectively referred to as a ceremonial band. Together with standard-bearers, the ceremonial band plays a key role in enhancing the majesty and splendor of the procession. Ceremonial bands still play equally important roles in modern-day street parades.
The aerial view utilized in this mural was the only possible way to provide such a clean view of each figure in such a massive procession. The artist demonstrated exceptional ability through the outstanding use of space and faithful representations of even the most minor of details despite the considerable number of figures appearing in this mural. This mural is an invaluable source of information regarding the scale of configuration of Koguryo-era processions.