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Portrait of Hermit (Doksung-do)

19th century, Korea

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ink and color on fabric, with silk brocade mounting and wood frame
painting alone: 33 x 22.25 in (83.8 x 56.5 cm)
mounted size: 43 x 30.5 in (109.2 x 77.5 cm)

Portrait of Hermit (Dok Song) in nature, sitting under a pine tree holding Puloccho with sun, clouds, and rocks.

Hermit painting is a genre of portrait painting unique to Korea. Tok Song, a Daoist saint that was absorbed into Korean Shamanism and Buddhism, isolates himself to seek self-cultivation and epitomized the Daoist ideal of attaining spiritual perfection, longevity, and immortality. Typically hung in the Tok Song Kak, the ‘side shrine’ dedicated to him in a Buddhist temple, he has been depicted as an old man featured in elaborate and elegant landscapes of their retreats since ancient times. In this painting, the monk is surrounded by an lavish rendition of his hermitage in nature. Filled with symbols of longevity and immortality in this fantastical landscape, he himself holds beads in one hand and a bulocho (an immortal mushroom). Several famous examples of these hermit paintings are in the collection of the Tongdosa Temple in Kyungsan Province, Korea.

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