• Koguryo and Balhae
  • Great Tomb of Gangseo
Ceiling Mural No. 3
TitleCeiling Mural No. 3
Ceiling Mural No. 3

These long, rectangular murals are painted on the sides of the first-tier parallel supporting stones. Various subject matters such as immortals, celestial beings, auspicious animals, and floral patterns are depicted, and the murals are located on the eastern, western, southern, and northern walls, respectively, in order from the top. The first mural painted on the eastern wall depicts an immortal and a celestial being, and a Fenghuang can be seen trailing. A series of layered large mountain peaks can be seen in the center of the mural. These mountains represent the Three Sacred Mountains of the East from Daoist mythology. The western wall that directly faces the eastern wall differs in the number of decorative elements in comparison, but the composition is identical. The center features mountain-peak patterns flanked by two flying immortals in Winged Clothes (clothing worn by immortals with the ends of the hems split like bird wings) and one immortal riding on a Fenghuang. The composition emphasizes precisely-calculated symmetry. These mountains represent Daoism's celebrated mountains, the Kunlun Mountains. The green pine trees depicted on the Kunlun Mountains are of particular interest.
The mural on the side of the southern parallel supporting stone depicts four flying immortals in Winged Clothes without any reliance on modes of transportation. Auspicious clouds enhance the sense of motion. Finally, the mural on the northern wall features four celestial beings wearing only lower garments and flying under the power of Winged Clothes. One celestial being can be seen playing a musical instrument conveying a sense of heavenly music resonating from the mural. Once again, the precisely-calculated composition is apparent, and the contents of the northern and southern murals reflect each other as four immortals and four celestial beings in perfect symmetry.
The focal point of the murals on the first-tier parallel supporting stones is the dynamic sense of motion. These elements are all oriented in a counter-clockwise direction and reflect the composition depicted in the murals of third-tier triangular supporting stones. The highly-regarded ceiling murals of the Great Tomb of Gangseo depict an alternating motion-rest-motion rhythm to convey stability and a vivid sense of motion. The murals lead the viewers' eyes to convey the sensation of exploring a beautiful scroll painting.