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1. The Seven Star Spirits (Chil Sung Tae Hwa)

19th century, Korea

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Ink and Mineral Color on Silk
64 x 74 in.

The Seven Star Spirits (Chil Sung)
Associated with the Big Dipper, the Seven Star Spirits (Chil Sung), were deified by Chinese Taoists and believed to control one’s destiny. Women who had just given birth traditionally offered a skein of thread to the Chil Sung as a symbol of their hope for a long life for their baby, and Korean Buddhists paid their respects by making a monetary offering. Seven Star Spirit paintings were usually hung in the Seven Star Shrine within the compound of the Buddhist temple.

In this painting, Amitabha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, sits in the center. Standing on each side are Avalokitesvara and Ksitigarbha. Different representations of the Seven Star Spirits flank them. On the bottom, these same seven figures have been transformed into the seven Taoist Immortals, who are further defined by their ornate Taoist garments. They are flanked by attendants.

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