• Koguryo and Balhae
  • Tokhung-ri Tomb
Ox
TitleOx
Ox on the eastern wall of the middle passage
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This is a detailed view of the ox in the Depiction of the Noble Couple’s Outing on the eastern wall of the middle passage. This ox is pulling the carriage with the First Lady. Although the ox seems to have been hastily painted, its large eyes and sharp horns are well-represented. Interestingly, the legs and hooves appear as if the ox is wearing black boots, similar to the horses depicted in the same mural. Notably, this ox was colored in a khaki green rather than brown, and this is interpreted to be a portrayal of the ox safely guiding the First Lady to the afterlife. In other words, this significant duty assumed by the ox could not be expressed with ordinary colors, and thus the green color is considered to contain specific intent to represent the sacredness of the act.
Upon closer examination of the painting techniques, the mural was ostensibly completed by first creating rough sketches in red, then applying color, and finally drawing black ink outlines to finish the images. Curiously, the outline that starts from the neck of the ox runs down to its stomach and overlaps the adjacent valet's thighs. Judging by this oversight, one can imagine that the artist hastily finished this painting, likely due to a lack of time.
A similar ox also appears in The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd image on the southern ceiling of the antechamber. A unique glimpse into the humor and laid-back sensibilities of the Koguryo people can be seen through this image.