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Cinerary chest

Cinerary chest

  • Place of origin:

    Korea (made)

  • Date:

    1150-1250 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved slate

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Aubrey Le Blond

  • Museum number:

    A.117-1918

  • Gallery location:

    Korea, room 47g, case 14

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This container for cremated remains is one of the few such examples outside Korea. Constructed of six pieces of a grey slate, it originally contained the ashes of a member of an aristocratic family. The outer vertical faces are incised with images of the Four Guardian Animals: the Dark Tortoise of the North, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Blue Dragon of the East and the White Tiger of the West. The inner walls are incised with lotus flowers. Apparently the chest was excavated in North Korea, near Kaesong, the capital of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392).

Physical description

This container for cremated remains is one of few examples outside Korea. It contained the ashes of a member of an aristocratic family, and was constructed of six pieces of a grey slate. The outer vertical faces are incised with images of the Four Guardian Animals: the Dark Tortoise of the North, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Blue Dragon of the Left, the White Tiger of the Right. The inner walls are incised with lotus and peony flowers. Apparently the chest was excavated in north Korea, near present-day Song-do, near Kaesông, the former capital of Koryô.

Colour: Grey

This small slate chest is decorated with elegant peony patterns on its inside and with the four guardian deities on its outside, which are the blue dragon, white tiger, red phoenix, and black tortoise. In particular, the blue dragon and white tiger are dynamically portrayed both running towards the black tortoise. After the military coup in 1170 during the Goryeo Dynasty, it was widely popular among Royals and aristocrats to cremate the body of the deceased in a temple and bury the ashes in a slate chest. With the lid now missing, this slate chest consists of five well-refined slate panels: the bottom slate and the four side-slates have grooves along their edges for slotting all the panels into a stable chest.

Place of Origin

Korea (made)

Date

1150-1250 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Carved slate

Dimensions

Height: 39 cm, Depth: 39 cm, Width: 74.5 cm, Thickness: 2-3 cm

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage. Daejeon: National Research Institue of Cultural Heritage, 2013, pp. 160-161.

Materials

Slate

Techniques

Carved

Subjects depicted

Bird; Lotus; Dragon; Tortoise; Tiger (animal)

Collection code

EAS

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Qr_O16602
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