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Pair of Tomb Guardians

Joseon Dynasty

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Pair of Tomb Guardians

Granite tomb guardians traditionally lined both sides of the Spirit Way, the avenue leading to the tomb. Figures and animals stood facing its pair across the avenue. Originally used for the tombs of government officials, they were later utilized by commoners as well. Classical guardians were of Confucian court officials dressed with the traditional attire of the scholar's hat and robes. Most likely from the southern Cholla province, these particular examples represent a folk aesthetic. Though the figures have retained their official hat and robes, they have been reduced and simplified to abstract columns and lines. Feet and hands have been eliminated, while the face has been flattened to just the essential features. Similar examples of these guardians in the classical form are in The British Museum and the Brooklyn Museum of New York.

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