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Buddhist Paintings of Gaesimsa Temple, Seosan (Five Emperors of the Five Cardinal Directions and Four Underworld Messengers)

서산 개심사 오방오제위도 및 사직사자도 ( 瑞山 開心寺 五方五帝位圖 및 四直使者圖 )

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Classification Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties Buddhist Paintings of Gaesimsa Temple, Seosan (Five Emperors of the Five Cardinal Directions and Four Underworld Messengers)
Quantity 9
Designated Date 2012.04.25
Age The 2nd year of the reign of King Sukjong of Joseon (1676)
Address 321-86, Gaesimsa-ro, Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do

Obangojewido (Five Emperors of the Five Cardinal Directions) and Sajiksajado (Four Underworld Messengers) of Gaesimsa Temple in Seosan are two paintings by the monk painter Ilho. These two paintings used to be displayed during a Buddhist rite. These paintings, among the oldest surviving Buddhist ritual paintings in Korea, are quite invaluable. There are only a handful of cases where an Obangojewido painting has survived together with a Sajiksajado painting as a set. Tongdosa in Yangsan, and Bongjeongsa and Bonghwangsa in Andong are three only temples where such sets are found. Of these, only the set housed in Tongdosa Temple is complete, with no missing panels. This set of Obangojewido and Sajiksajado, meanwhile, exceeds its counterpart in Tongdosa Temple in value, in that it is accompanied by a note providing its date and the names of its authors and other persons who participated in its creation in various capacities, including the patrons; which is not the case with the latter. The paintings are mounted into a scroll. Three of the five panels of Obangojewido are painted on silk and are lined with a hemp backing. The colors are light overall, and the line drawing is highly skilled, while the figures are well proportioned both in their facial and bodily features. The Sajiksajado of Gaesimsa Temple, meanwhile, is made up of four panels, each representing one of the four underworld messengers; namely, Yeonjiksaja, Woljiksaja, Iljiksaja and Sijiksaja. Also mounted into scrolls, this set of four paintings appears to have been displayed during a rite. Each panel is made with three interconnected hemp pieces. The figures in the Sajiksajado of Gaesimsa are depicted in a lively manner, in elegant and meticulous brushstrokes. The selection of colors is highly sophisticated as well. The figure, meanwhile, have a lithe allure, well matching their role as the messengers of the underworld. The Obangojewido and Sajiksajado of Gaesimsa Temple are paintings displayed during such Buddhist rites as Suryukjae and Yeongsanjae, popularly held in Joseon, in post-Imjin War years, and are of great significance for the understanding of large-size Buddhist paintings created for ritualistic purposes, during the Joseon period.