The Heavenly Dragon General with Attendants (Shinjungdo)
late Joseon Period (1392-1910), Korea
ink and color on paper
Mounted: 511/2 x 40 1/4 in (130.8 x 102.2 cm)
painting alone: 45.75 x 34.75 in (116.2 x 88.3 cm
Heavenly Dragon General (standing in the center, in dragon robe):
The Heavenly Dragon General is one of the Four Great Heavenly Kings, each of whom lived on one side of Mount Sumeru, the tip of the mountain being Indra’s home. A protective deity thought to suppress demons and evil influences and preserve peace, the Heavenly Dragon General is a fixture in Korean Buddhist painting, appearing in many murals and paintings in temples.
Sinjung (small figures surrounding the Heavenly Dragon General):
The sinjung, or godlings of Buddhist lore are the lesser deities in the Buddhist pantheon. These godlings and spirits are protectors of Buddhist law and sanctuary, and were upheld as symbols of the triumph of Buddhism over other beliefs. The sinjung incorporated Indian godlings (devas, in Sanskrit) of Buddhist, Vedic and Dravidian origin, as well as Chinese and native Korean deities.
Tong Do Sa-Temple Museum Collection, South Korea
The National Museum of Korea Collection, in Seoul
Ho-Am Art Museum Collection in Yong In, Korea
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The above description is excerpted from The Story of a Painting: A Korean Buddhist Treasure from The Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation [exhibit catalog, page 31], by Hongnam Kim with contributions by Junghee Lee. This exhibition catalogue, published by The Asia Society Galleries in 1991, describes a later 19th century Indra and the Dragon-General of more modest quality, which was exhibited at the Asia Society Galleries in April 1991.