|Title||Great Tomb of Gangseo|
Goguryeo(Koguryo) is a kingdom that dominated the expansive territory of Manchuria and the northern regions of the Korean peninsula for 700 years.
Goguryeo(Koguryo), comprising many tribes, gave rise to a magnificent and sophisticated culture.
Of Goguryeo(Koguryo)’s many artifacts, the murals found in 100 or so tombs are particularly important historical remains that exemplify the lifestyle and mindset of the Goguryeo(Koguryo) people.
They are also internationally recognized as a valuable cultural heritage that offers us a glimpse into the history and spirit of Goguryeo(Koguryo)
The 7th-century murals of the Gangseo Daemyo (one of the most famous tombs), located in Sammyo-li, Gangseo-gun, South Pyeongan-do, are regarded as products of Goguryeo(Koguryo)’s artistic mastery at its height.
The tomb is dome-shaped and measures 51 meters wide and 9 meters high.
The interior consists of a pathway to the burial chamber and the burial chamber itself, whose sides are over 3 meters each.
The four walls and ceiling of the burial chamber are made of high-quality, refined granite flagstones and are adorned with decorative patterns and the paintings of the four tomb guardians.
Featuring lively brushstrokes and brilliant colors, the murals of the Gangseo Daemyo are considered masterpieces of Goguryeo(Koguryo) painting.
Their value has been recognized internationally, receiving the UNESCO world heritage designation.
Preservation efforts have been lacking, however, and the mausoleum is in a condition unbefitting its stature.
Its dazzling murals are fading in color and rapidly deteriorating.
Fearing that the murals—in their original condition—will become forever irretrievable if further damage is sustained, the Northeast Asian History Foundation decided to digitally restore the Gangseo Daemyo.
Through structural restoration and digital coloring, the murals have regained their original splendor and grandeur.
The murals of the Gangseo Daemyo have been revived, and with them, so has the spirit of the people of Goguryeo(Koguryo).
Sashindo: Guarding the Burial Chamber’s Four Walls Cheongryong (Blue Dragon), Baekho (White Tiger), Jujak (Red Phoenix), and Hyeonmoo (Black Tortoise with Serpent body) protect the east, west, south, and north of the burial chamber, respectively.
The painting demonstrates the imagination of the Goguryeo(Koguryo) people and their belief in immortality.
Hyeonmoodo: Exuding Vitality The 3-D-rendering of the unique composition—a serpent coiled around a tortoise—is so realistic that the two animals appear alive and in movement.
Cheongryongdo: Overpowering Vigor With powerful brushstrokes and a diagonal composition that conveys speed, it is a tour de force among Cheongryong murals.
Jujakdo: Power that Mesmerizes With its widespread wings and long, coiled tail, the figure looks so realistic that it appears poised to take flight at any moment.
Baekhodo: Displaying the Spirit of Goguryeo(Koguryo) The flowing curves that seem to ripple with life and the realistic rendering of the roaring tiger vividly portray the ferocity of the beast.
While the paintings of the four tomb guardians exude dynamism and vitality, the ceiling murals offer something else completely.
The enchanted land of enlightened beings is spread across the ceiling.
The first platform is adorned with honeysuckle motifs.
On the second platform, we find mountains, virtuous beings, and flying fairies.
On the third platform, the goimseok (water-receiving stone) is decorated with lotus motifs, and there lies a coiled hwangryong (yellow dragon) at the center of the cover stone.
The paintings of the heavenly beings and the mountains exemplify the Goguryeo(Koguryo) people’s understanding of enlightened beings as well as advances in landscape painting.
Passing 1,500 years of time and space, the murals of the Gangseo Daemyo have now recaptured their majesty.
The Gangseo Daemyo boasts the pinnacle of Goguryeo(Koguryo)-era murals with the four tomb guardians.
The murals embody the vigor and strength of Goguryeo(Koguryo).
The spirit, passion, and artistry that created the Gangseo Daemyo still inspire and move.