Koguryo Kingdom

Koguryo (고구려 高句麗) was an ancient kingdom governing a vast territory in North-East Asia from the first centuries bce until 668 ce, when it was overthrown and perished. The name of Koryo (고려 高麗) was used more commonly than that of Koguryo after the 5th centuryce, period during which the kingdom boasted the largest territory in its history, reaching the Liao River in the west, the Songhua River and the Mudan River in the north, the Primorskii area in the east, and the middle-south part of the Korean Peninsula in the south.

According to The Annals of the Three Kingdoms (Samguk sagi), Koguryo existed for a period of 705 years, from 37 bce to 668 ce, under the rule of 28 successive kings. Its early genealogy is nonetheless doubtful and cannot be fully trusted: the Annals might have been modified in later periods or simply be erroneous. For this reason, some scholars claim that Koguryo’s activities as a political state date back to the 3rd century bce. Leaving aside this debate, the history of Koguryo can be divided into three main periods, based on the successive locations of its capital city.
(Reference: UNESCO Document: Preservation of the Koguryo Kingdom Tombs, pp 7-8)

Note: The legendary King Tongmyong/Dongmyeong/Ju Mong 朱蒙/Chu Mong 추몽 鄒蒙/Chumo (58–19 BE, r. 37–19 BC), who built the first capital, Wunu Mountain City, in Huanren in 37 BC, is regarded by Korean people as the the founder of Goguryeo Kingdom. Goguryeo moved its capital to Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City in Ji’an in 3 AD' and moved to the third capital in Pyongyang in 427 AD.

Wunu Mountain City, the early Goguryo's capital, was built in 37 BC. It was used for nearly 30 years. After the capital was moved to Guonei City in 3 AD, Koguryo people continued to live in Wunu Mountain City. Later, it was one of the places where the Manchu's ancestors started their activities and developed. Since Qing Dynasty, Wunu Mountain City gradually was deserted.

In the third year of Yuanshi (3 AD) in Western Han Dynasty when the capital was moved, Guonei City had already had the earth walls left over from the Warring States and early Western Han Dynasty. The original earth walls were used to build the Guonei City. To strengthen defense, the Weinayan City (Wandu Mountain City) was built in the north.

After the capital was moved to Pyongyang in 427 AD in Northern Wei Dynasty, Guonei City was regarded as "supporting capital", one of the three capital cities of Koguryo, still maintaining its important position.
(Reference: UNESCO Document: Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, pp24-25)

Following the ruin of Kojoson, the ancient, slave-owner state, feudal kingdoms such as Koguryo, Paekje, Silla and Kaya were established in the northeast China and the Korean peninsula. This period is called the Three Kingdoms Period. The Koguryo kingdom was one of the first feudal states to appear in the history of Korea, and existed for nearly 1,000 years (277 BC–668 AD) from her establishment in Huanren (Liaoning Province, China) in 277 BC. The founder of the dynasty was Ko Ju Mong. Koguryo relocated her capital from Jolbon to Kuknae Castle (Ji’an, Jilin Province, China) in 3 AD and to the Mt. Taesong area in Pyongyang in 427 AD and eventually, to the Jangan Castle (the central part of present-day Pyongyang City).

Koguryo, through her flexible diplomatic policies with neighboring dynasties such as Paekje, Silla, and the Northern and Southern dynasties (AD 317 ~ 589) (in particular, Northern Wei, AD 386 ~ 534), expanded her territory to become one of the strong powers in the East, which territory, at its peak, covered northeast China and half of the Korean peninsula.

Among the cultural heritage left by the Koguryo kingdom, most typical are the stone-piled tombs and stone-chambered, earthen mound tombs.
The stone-piled tombs had existed from the earlier period of the Koguryo dynasty until the c. 5th century AD.
The stone-chambered tombs covered by earthen mounds appeared at around the 1st century and gradually replaced the stone-piled tombs, until the last period of Koguryo.
The stone-chambered, earthen mound tombs have been found in Ji’an area, the second capital of Koguryo (3 AD ~ 427 AD), but most of them are concentrated in Pyongyang, her last capital from 427 AD, and other central and western parts of Korea such as South Phyongan Province, Nampho, South Hwanghae Province, etc.
(Reference: UNESCO Document: Complex of Koguryo Tombs, Section 2a)  


28 Monarchs of Goguryeo Kingdom

  (1) King Chumo 37-19 BCE   (2) King Yuri 19 BCE-18 CE   (3) King Daemusin 18-44   (4) King Minjung 44-48   (5) King Mobon 48-53   (6) King Taejodae 53-146   (7) King Chadae 146-165   (8) King Sindae 165-179   (9) King Gogukcheon 179-197   (10) King Sansang 197-227   (11) King Dongcheon 227-248   (12) King Jungcheon 248-270   (13) King Seocheon 270-292   (14) King Bongsang 292-300   (15) King Micheon 300-331   (16) King Gogug-won 331-371   (17) King Sosurim 371-384   (18) King Gogug-yang 384-391   (19) King Gwanggaeto 391-413   (20) King Jangsu 413-490   (21) King Munja 491-519   (22) King Anjang 519-531   (23) King An-won 531-545   (24) King Yang-won 545-559   (25) King Pyeong-won 559-590   (26) King Yeong-yang 590-618   (27) King Yeong-nyu 618-642   (28) King Bojang 642-668   (Wikipedia: Dongmyeong of Goguryeo)

Koguryo Kingdom Tombs: background document

The Excavation of Koguryo Sites

The Koguryo Dynasty reigned over a powerful kingdom which existed and prospered for nearly 1 000 years, from 277 BCE to 668 CE, in a vast area covering mainly the Korean peninsula and northeast China. A clear understanding of the role of this kingdom is important not only in the history and culture of Korea but also of East Asia. However, many challenges arise in identifying and excavating Koguryo sites, as many of them were thoroughly destroyed and plundered when the kingdom collapsed, and few traces of its culture remain. In spite of these difficulties, many achievements have been made in the excavation and archaeological studies of Koguryo sites such as tombs, fortresses, palaces, and temples.

Among the heritage left by the Koguryo kingdom, the wall-painting tombs are of special importance. Tens of thousands of Koguryo stone-pile tombs and earthen-mound tombs are located around Pyongyang and in the northwest part of the Korean Peninsula as well as in northeast China, including in the Ji’an area. However, among the tombs discovered up to now, not one is intact; all have been looted. Thus far, approximately 100 tombs have been discovered. Seventy-three are located in the northwest of the Korean Peninsula and 23 in northeast China (as of late 2004). From the geographical point of view, the areas with mural tombs can be divided as follows: Pyongyang area (26 tombs), South Phyongan Province (33 tombs), Anak area in South Hwanghae Province (11 tombs), and North Hwanghae Province (3 tombs). The mural-painting tombs were built between the 3rd and 7th century CE for kings and other high-ranking nobles of Koguryo.

The Koguryo mural-painting tombs bear testimony to the religious ideas of the time, as well as to the architecture and painting skills of the Koguryo people. The mural paintings are also rich in representations of many different aspects of life: politics, economy, military affairs, religion, traditions, astronomy, art, etc. Therefore they are of immense value in the study of Koguryo.

From an architectural point of view, the mural-painting tombs are divided into single, double- and multi-chamber tombs. If one divides them according to the subject of their paintings, they fall into four categories: (1) portrait and genre-painting tombs; (2) tombs combining portrait and genre-painting with four sacred animal paintings; (3) four sacred animal painting tombs; and (4) decorative-pattern painting tombs. Among the Koguryo mural painting tombs discovered thus far, 33 tombs fall into the first category (26 of which are in the Korean Peninsula), 24 tombs into the second category (21 in the Korean Peninsula), 12 tombs into the third category (9 in the Korean Peninsula) and 8 tombs into the fourth category (1 in the Korean Peninsula). The remaining 19 tombs are too severely damaged to distinguish their paintings. In each tomb, the main theme of the mural painting and the architecture of the tomb are closely linked; their evolution documents the changes in the religious representations of the Koguryo people. Although mural- painting tombs exist in other parts of the world, not many can rival with those of the Koguryo Kingdom. For this reason, these sites are invaluable treasures of mankind as a whole.

Among the Koguryo sites, fortresses are no less valuable than mural-painting tombs. In medieval warfare, in which short-distance firing weapons were mainly used, fortresses were considered as one of the most important defense facilities. Every country built fortresses, but Koguryo was famous for its technique of building durable stone walls. So far, hundreds of fortresses have been identified as belonging to Koguryo, most of which are mountain fortresses. They were usually built on a terrain with rich water resources, surrounded by several valleys and mountain ridges, which made it possible to house a great number of people and endure long wars. Koguryo-style wall construction is characterized by the size of its stones, which were well cut and interlocked in the way that bricks are laid, thus greatly improving defense capabilities. This kind of fortification would be built at strategically important points from the front to the more remote rear areas. The Koguryo fortresses were crucial in allowing Koguryo to become one of the most powerful feudal kingdoms in the East for approximately 1 000 years.

Royal palaces and temples have also been identified among the Koguryo relics excavated so far. Koguryo moved its capital three times and the site of its third capital (427-586 CE), the Anhak Palace of Pyongyang, was excavated and documented between 1958 and 1969. This site consists of 53 buildings surrounded by a square wall, each side of which measured 622 meters. In addition, the Onyo mountain fortress and Gungnae fortress, the sites of the first and second capitals of Koguryo Kingdom, were excavated and also bear testimony to the earlier tradition of palace architecture in Koguryo. After the introduction of Buddhism into Koguryo in 372 CE, many Buddhist monasteries were also built. Among these, the Jongrung Temple site underwent the most complete excavation in 1974. All Koguryo temples were in the “one-tower-threesanctuary” style: an octogonal tower in the middle surrounded by Buddhist sanctuaries on three sides, which is unique to Koguryo. The Koguryo Buddhist monastery sites such as Jongrung Temple, Kumgang Temple, Thosong-ri Temple in Pongsan, as well as Sango-ri Temple, are the most outstanding examples.

Furthermore, red-colored roof-tiles have been unearthed in Koguryo building sites (except in the palaces, which used grey-colored tiles), which differ from those in neighboring countries. The epigraphs of the Koguryo period, especially the stele of the Great King Kwanggaeto (currently located in Ji’an, China), as well as the stele of Chungwon Koguryo (located in the South of the Korean peninsula), also offer valuable information on the Kingdom.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the excavation of the Koguryo sites. Firstly, Koguryo was a far more powerful state than has been assumed. Recently, it was reported that a Koguryo mountain fortress and mural painting tombs were discovered in Inner Mongolia. This indicates that the northern border of Koguryo once reached there. In addition, Koguryo sites are still being discovered as far as South and North Chungchong and North Kyongsang Provinces, displacing its southern border to the south. Exchanges with other countries were very developed as well; a typical example is the scene of a Koguryo envoy depicted on the wall of a palace in Samarkand in Central Asia. Koguryo was not simply the “tributary of a great power”. On the contrary it was one of the dominating states which put many neighboring kingdoms under its sway. During the Three Kingdoms Period, Koguryo actually protected Paekche and Silla. Both kingdoms were able to prosper thanks to Koguryo, which guarded their northern borders.

Secondly, it is coming to light that Koguryo developed its own culture, which reached a very high level at the time. Some scholars argue that Koguryo’s civilization was influenced and imitated from other countries, but Koguryo culture is clearly distinct. Its tomb-building technique, the contents of its mural paintings and their painting tradition, the layout of buildings in Buddhist monasteries, the wall-building technique of fortresses – all differed from those of the contemporary neighboring kingdoms. It is true that Buddhism and Confucianism have been world-wide movements in religion and philosophy and that there were cultural exchanges between neighboring kingdoms at the time: Koguryo also absorbed foreign inputs to develop its own unique culture. As the studies on Koguryo are advancing, the influence of Koguryo culture on the neighboring countries is being actively studied in more detail. The excavations and studies on Koguryo will certainly continue in various ways to corroborate theses conclusions.

Royal palaces and temples have also been identified among the Koguryo relics excavated so far. Koguryo moved its capital three times and the site of its third capital (427-586 CE), the Anhak Palace of Pyongyang, was excavated and documented between 1958 and 1969. This site consists of 53 buildings surrounded by a square wall, each side of which measured 622 meters. In addition, the Onyo mountain fortress and Gungnae fortress, the sites of the first and second capitals of Koguryo Kingdom, were excavated and also bear testimony to the earlier tradition of palace architecture in Koguryo. After the introduction of Buddhism into Koguryo in 372 CE, many Buddhist monasteries were also built. Among these, the Jongrung Temple site underwent the most complete excavation in 1974. All Koguryo temples were in the “one-tower-threesanctuary” style: an octogonal tower in the middle surrounded by Buddhist sanctuaries on three sides, which is unique to Koguryo. The Koguryo Buddhist monastery sites such as Jongrung Temple, Kumgang Temple, Thosong-ri Temple in Pongsan, as well as Sango-ri Temple, are the most outstanding examples.

Furthermore, red-colored roof-tiles have been unearthed in Koguryo building sites (except in the palaces, which used grey-colored tiles), which differ from those in neighboring countries. The epigraphs of the Koguryo period, especially the stele of the Great King Kwanggaeto (currently located in Ji’an, China), as well as the stele of Chungwon Koguryo (located in the South of the Korean peninsula), also offer valuable information on the Kingdom.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the excavation of the Koguryo sites. Firstly, Koguryo was a far more powerful state than has been assumed. Recently, it was reported that a Koguryo mountain fortress and mural painting tombs were discovered in Inner Mongolia. This indicates that the northern border of Koguryo once reached there. In addition, Koguryo sites are still being discovered as far as South and North Chungchong and North Kyongsang Provinces, displacing its southern border to the south. Exchanges with other countries were very developed as well; a typical example is the scene of a Koguryo envoy depicted on the wall of a palace in Samarkand in Central Asia. Koguryo was not simply the “tributary of a great power”. On the contrary it was one of the dominating states which put many neighboring kingdoms under its sway. During the Three Kingdoms Period, Koguryo actually protected Paekche and Silla. Both kingdoms were able to prosper thanks to Koguryo, which guarded their northern borders.

Secondly, it is coming to light that Koguryo developed its own culture, which reached a very high level at the time. Some scholars argue that Koguryo’s civilization was influenced and imitated from other countries, but Koguryo culture is clearly distinct. Its tomb-building technique, the contents of its mural paintings and their painting tradition, the layout of buildings in Buddhist monasteries, the wall-building technique of fortresses – all differed from those of the contemporary neighboring kingdoms. It is true that Buddhism and Confucianism have been world-wide movements in religion and philosophy and that there were cultural exchanges between neighboring kingdoms at the time: Koguryo also absorbed foreign inputs to develop its own unique culture. As the studies on Koguryo are advancing, the influence of Koguryo culture on the neighboring countries is being actively studied in more detail. The excavations and studies on Koguryo will certainly continue in various ways to corroborate theses conclusions.

 


Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom in Northeast China

The site includes archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City, 14 tombs are imperial, 26 of nobles.
All belong to the Koguryo culture, named after the dynasty that ruled over parts of northern China and the northern half of the Korean Peninsula from 37 BC to 668 AD.
Wunu Mountain City is only partly excavated.
Guonei City, within the modern city of Ji’an, played the role of a supporting capital after the main Koguryo capital moved to Pyongyang.
Wandu Mountain City, one of the capitals of the Koguryo Kingdom, contains many vestiges including a large palace and 37 tombs. Some of the tombs have elaborate ceilings, designed to roof wide spaces without columns and carry the heavy load of a stone or earth tumulus (mound) which was placed above them. (UNESCO World Heritage Centre)

Location in China: Huanren County, Liaoning Province and Ji’an, Jilin Province.

The sites in Huanren County, Liaoning include Wunu Mountain City,

The sites in Ji’an, Jilin Province include Guonei City, Wandu Mountain City and Tombs (Imperial and Nobles's Tombs) of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom.
(UNESCO Document: Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, Page 1)

Wunu Mountain City in Huanren County, Liaoning Province

Wunu Mountain City located on top of a Wunu mountain, in Huanren County (桓仁縣), Liaoning Province (遼寧)
The city was of a considerable size, measuring 1,500 meters in length and 300 to 500 meters in width. It is only partly excavated.
The upper part of the city includes watch terrace, base of a palace, site of military camp and a city gate.
The lower part of the city was surrounded by defence wall, partly built and partly natural, using the cliff. The wall measures about 1,600 meters in length in is built of stone tablets at the outside and irregular stones on the inside. It measures 2.5 – 3.5 meters at the top and about 5 meters at the bottom.
The city has 3 gates. In its central part there is a large pool (the dossier does not explain its function).
There are foundations of a palace, 20 sites of army camp with semi-pit houses, a watch tower measuring 15 by 17 meters (only foundations) and remains of warehouses.

Wu Nu Mountain (Chinese: 五女山) means the mountain of Five Women.

Wunu Mountain City in Huanren County, Liaoning Province   Wunu Mountain and Wunu Mountain City

Left: Wunu Mountain City (五女山山城) in Huanren County (桓仁縣), Liaoning Province (遼寧省) on the summit of Wunu Mountain (Five Women Mountain 五女山).
Right: Wunu Mountain and Wunu Mountain City

Wunu Mountain City in Huanren County, Liaoning Province   Wunu Mountain and Wunu Mountain City   Distant view of watch tower

Wunu Mountain City   Wunu Mountain and Wunu Mountain City   Distant view of watch tower

Present-day pillar at the entrance to the Wunü Mountain complex  Wunü Mountain entrance through the narrow Tian-Chang Gate  Shrine to the five women after whom Wunü Mountain is named

Left: Present-day pillar at the entrance to the Wunü Mountain complex with the three-legged bird finial.
Middle: Wunü Mountain entrance through the narrow Tian-Chang Gate
Right: Shrine to the five women after whom Wunü Mountain is named

Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City in Ji’an, Jilin Province

Guonei City (Gungnae-seong) is located on the right bank of the Yalu river. It is within the modern city of Ji’an (集安) and is of approximately square shape, measuring around 550 by 700 meters. It is surrounded by well built stone walls.

Wandu Mountain City (Hwando) was one of the capitals of the Koguryo. It is surrounded by stone walls, following topography lines and has seven gates.
There are two springs in the city, flowing towards the southern gate and into the Tonggou river.
Three large architectural elements are known in the city – remains of a large palace built on three step terrace with several buildings as part of it, a watch platform, site of military camp and a water pool.
Inside the city there are also 37 tombs from the period after the city was deserted.

Wandu Mountain City (丸都山城) in Ji’an, Jilin Province

Entrance plaque at Hwando Mountain Fortress  Hwando Mountain Fortress' watchtower

Entrance plaque at Hwando Mountain Fortress   Hwando Mountain Fortress' watchtower
Alternate watchtower image

Wall snaking up incline at Hwando Mountain Fortress  View of Shanchengxia Nobles's Tomb Area from Hwando Mountain Fortress

Wall snaking up incline at Hwando Mountain Fortress   View of Shanchengxia Nobles's Tomb Area from Hwando Mountain Fortress

Guonei City (Gungnae City 國內城) in Ji’an, Jilin Province

Stretch of the city wall of Gungnae  Mound at the corner of Gungnae Fortress (GuoNei Fortress)  Statues and Gungnae City

Left: Stretch of the city wall of Gungnae
Middle: Mound at the corner of Gungnae Fortress (GuoNei Fortress)
Right: Statues and Gungnae City

 

Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom (高句麗古墳群) in Northeast China

All of the Imperial Tombs and Nobles’ Tombs of Koguryo are located in the Donggou Ancient Tombs. Of the Imperial Tombs, 14 have been verified, and two are doubtful. There are 12 tombs of royal nobles, and 15 tombs of nobles. The Donggou Ancient Tombs, including 7000 tombs of the Koguryo time, spread over the hills and sloping fields in the Tonggou Plain. According to the landform and density of location, these tombs may be divided into seven sections: Maxian, Qixingshan, Wanbaoting, Shanchengxia, Yushan, Xiajiefang and Changchuan over an area of 25 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide in front of the mountain.
(UNESCO Document: Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom. Last Part p2)


1) Maxian tomb area is located 4 kilometers to the west of the city. There are more than 3000 ancient tombs, including the well-known Qianqiu Tomb, Xida Tomb and Maxian Tomb No.1. The area covers about 950 hectares.
2) Qixingshan tomb area is located at the southern slope of Qixingshan, 1 kilometer to the west of the city. There are more than 1000 ancient tombs. The area covers about 330 hectares.
3) Wanbaoting tomb area is located at the foot of Qixingshan, 1 kilometer to the northwest of the city. There are more than 3000 ancient tombs. The area covers about 300 hectares.
4) Shanchengxia tomb area is located 1 kilometer to the north of the city, at the foot of Yushan Mountain, reaching Tonggou River valley below the Wandu Mountain City. There are more than 1000 ancient tombs, including the well-known Zhetianjing Tomb, Tomb of Elder Brother, Tomb of Younger Brother, Tortoise Shell Tomb and Lotus Tomb No 1. The area covers about 460 hectares.
5) Yushan tomb area is located east of the city, reaching Yushan Mountain in the north at the foot of Yushan Mountain, Tonggou River in the west, Yalu River in the south. There are more than 3000 ancient tombs, including Haotaiwang Tomb, Tomb of General, Dancing Figure Tomb, Tomb of the Wrestlers, Three-Chamber Tomb, Horse Manger Tomb, Wukui Tombs No.4 and No.5 . This is the largest tomb area in Donggou, covers about 1160 hectares.
6) Xiajiefang tomb area is located 10 kilometers to the east of the city, facing North Korea opposite the Yalu River. There are more than 50 ancient tombs, including Tomb of Ranmou, Ring Pattern Tomb and Wall Painting Tomb No.31. The area covers about 60 hectares.
7) Changchuan tomb area is located 25 kilometers to the northeast of the city, to the north of Changchuan Village. There are more than 100 ancient tombs, including the well-known Changchuan Tombs No.1 and No.2. The area covers about 160 hectares.
(UNESCO Document: Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom. Page 107)

Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom (高句麗古墳群)

The tombs of kings and nobles (Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom)   Many imperial tombs take a stepped pyramid form constructed of stone

Left: The tombs of kings and nobles in Shanchengxia area by the Tonggou River.
Right: Many imperial tombs take a stepped pyramid form constructed of stone   Another view

Located in northeast China, the Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom dating from the 1st century BCE to the 7th century CE comprise archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City in Huanren Manchu Autonomous County, Liaoning Province; Guonei City, Wandu Mountain City, and the 40 tombs in Ji’an municipality, Jilin Province.

The Koguryo kingdom was a regional power and ethnic group from the year 37BCE until the kingdom moved its capital to Pyonyang in 427CE.Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City served as capitals of Koguryo during the early and middle period of the Kingdom. Wunu Mountain City was built in 37BCE as the first capital of the Koguryo regime. Surrounded by a defensive wall with three gates which was partly built in stone and in other places exploited the cliff face, the city included a palace, military camp, watch tower, houses and warehouses. Guonei City, now surrounded by the city of Ji’an, was built on the plain with a stone-built defensive wall and had separate palace and residential zones. Wandu Mountain City, the only Koguryo mountain city capital whose general layout was planned with the large palace as its core, created a mountain city that perfectly combined the Koguryo culture with the natural environment. Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City were the economic, political and cultural centers of the Koguryo for hundreds of years. Guonei City was destroyed in the year 197 CE when the Koguryo were defeated by another power. Wandu Mountain City was built in 209 CE. Both cities were damaged in wars and rebuilt several times, serving alternately as the capital. Guonei City played the role of a supporting capital after the main Koguryo capital moved to Pyongyang; it is one of the few plains city sites with stone city walls still standing.

The tombs of kings and nobles of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom are distributed in the Donggou Ancient Tombs Area of Wandu Mountain City. The 12 imperial tombs take a stepped pyramid form constructed of stone. The burial chambers within were roofed with clay tiles. The tombs of the nobles have stone chambers covered with earth mounds and are decorated with wall paintings, depicting scenes of daily life, sports, hunting, nature, gods, fairies, and dragons. The stele of King Haotaiwang dating from 414CE, tells the story of the founding of the Koguryo kingdom.

The capital cities and tombs are exceptional testimony to the vanished Koguryo civilisation. The layout and construction of the capital cities influenced the city planning and building of later cultures. The tomb paintings represent a rare artistic expression in medieval North-east Asia and together with the stele and inscriptions show the impact of Chinese culture on the Koguryo.

Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom (高句麗古墳群)

Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, China   Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, China   Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom below Wandu Mountain
Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom below Wandu Mountain

Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom on the Tonggou Plain.

Imperial Tombs – 14 in total, each represents the burial system of Koguryo royal families. Most of the tombs are built of stones, creating kind of stepped pyramid or a pile of stones. They vary in size between 7x40 to 9x55 or 35x35 meters and other dimensions. Inside there are stone chambers and many of the tombs were covered with clay tiles.
A stone stele, from the year 414 AD, with 1590 characters, telling the story of the founding of the Koguryo state, is part of the Imperial Tombs complex. It is 6.4 meters high and has a square section of 1 to 2 meters width.

Nobles’ tombs – 27 tombs of which 26 have an earth mound on top. They have a stone chamber and are decorated with wall paintings, describing daily life scenes, parties, sports, hunting, nature, gods, fairies, dragons and others.

History

The Koguryo kingdom starts as a regional power and ethnic group in the year 37BC, when its first capital city, Wunu Mountain City was built. 30 years later the capital moved to Guonei city. The capital moved again in 427 AD to Pyonyang, nowadays the capital of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City were the economic, political and cultural centers of the Koguryo for hundreds of years. Guonei City was destroyed in the year 197 AD when Koguryo were defeated by another power. Wandu Mountain City was built in 209 AD. Both cities were damaged in wars and rebuilt several times.

After moving the capital to Pyongyang, Guonei city was considered as a “supporting capital”. It was then deserted for long period and repaired again after the founding of modern Ji’an in 1902.The remains of Wunu city were repaired in the years 1999 and 2002.

The sites of the historic towns were declared as protected monuments since the second half of the 20th century and in 1983 all the residents of newly built Wandu city moved out.

Thousands of Koguryo tombs are known. Their first excavations date to the period of the Japanese occupation, during World War II. The People’s Republic of China attached great importance to their protection, study and conservation.

 

Imperial Tombs

The tombs located at the foot of the mountain and slopes in Tonggou Plains. Among them, 14 tombs have been identified and 2 tombs are still shadowed with doubt.
The listed tombs include 14 Tombs in totality, they are: Maxian Tomb No.0626, Qianqiu Tomb, Xida Tomb, Maxia Tomb No.2100, Maxian Tomb No.2378, Qixingshan Tomb No.0211, Qixingshan Tomb No.087 1, Imperial Tomb of Taiwang and Haotaiwang Stele, Linjiang Tomb, Yushan Tomb No.2110, Yushan Tomb No.0992, Tome of General and Subordinate Tomb No.1.
These are highest-level stone tombs with the richest characteristics in the period of Koguryo. High location, isolation and large mausoleum area are the characteristics of the imperial tombs of Koguryo. There have been archaeological discovery to support them.
Each imperial tomb is the comprehensive embodiment of the burial system of Koguryo royal families. At a time when there is an extremely lack of historical materials to study Koguryo's imperial tombs, these property sites are playing a unique and irreplaceable role with its rich archaeological information.

1) Maxian Tomb No.0626 (麻线0626号墓), codenamed MM0626. It is a base-altar piled-stone tomb. The base altar is of the protective wall type, divided into six steps. The square tomb is now 7 meters and the side length is 40 meters. The tomb pit in the middle is well preserved. There still remain tile and brick pieces that indicate the existence of building dated very early.
2) Qianqiu Tomb (千秋墓), codenamed MM1000. It got the name for the inscription brick with characters "Qian Qiu" found on the tomb. This is the tomb with the largest volume in the property site. It is a step-altar stone chamber tomb. The square tomb's length of side is more than 60 meters and height about 9 meters. The step altar still has three steps. Huge rocks support the tomb. A sacrifice altar was found to the south of the tomb. Some believe it is the tomb of King Guguo Rangwang.
3) Xida Tomb (西大墓), codenamed MM500. It got the name for its location in the west part of the Maxian tombs area. The step-altar piled-stone tomb is square, 55 meters long and 9 meters high. It has nine steps. Grey tile eaves with the pattern of cloud has been found. A huge pit was dug when it was illegally excavated. It divides the tomb into two parts. According to historical literature, it should be the tomb of King Xichuanwang.
4) Maxian Tomb No.2100 (麻线2100号墓), codenamed MM2100. It is a square step-altar piled-stone tomb. Its side length is 39 meters, and current height 6 meters. Two steps of altar can be recognized. The eave tiles with the pattern of lotus and tile pieces unearthed show that there used to be a building on the top of the tomb.
5) Maxian Tomb No.2378 (麻线2378号墓), codenamed MM2378. It is a step-altar piled-stone tomb. It is nearly a rectangular with a long side of 50 meters, a short side of 22 meters, and a height of 4 meters. The base altar was built along the landform. There are six steps. Many brick and tile pieces remain.
6) Qixingshan Tomb No.0211 (七星山0211号墓),codenamed QM0211. It is a square step-altar piled-stone tomb with a side length of 60 meters and an existent height of 10 meters. There still remain two stone steps. The tomb is covered with tile pieces. A huge pit dug during the illegal excavation almost divides the tomb into two pans. According to historical records, this should be the tomb of King Meichuanwang.
7) Qixingshan Tomb No.0871 (七星山0871号墓), codenamed QM0871. It is a rectangular step-altar piled-stone tomb. The side lengths are 35 and 35 meters. The existent height is 5.5 meters. Lots of tiles have been found at the tomb. A huge pit was dug by the soldiers during the war.
8) Tomb of Haotaiwang (Taiwang) (太王陵 i.e., King Kwanggaeto), codenamed YM0541. As the brick bearing the inscription of "Wish Tomb of Haotaiwang as solid as mountain" was found many times, people got to know it was the tomb of Haotaiwang. Haotaiwang, the 19th king of Koguryo, was named Tan De (373-414 AD). His full title is "Haotaiwang, Peaceful King of Vast Land”. His tomb is a square step-altar pile-stone tomb. Its length is 66 meters, and the existent height is 14.8 meters. The tomb chamber faces westward. The stone coffin chamber is in the shape of a Chinese gabled roof house. Many tiles have been found, including those with the pattern of lotus. It is the only tomb in Koguryo with the exact date and owner.
8-1) Located at 200 meters to the northeast of Taiwang Tomb. This stele (The Stele of King Kwanggaeto 好太王碑) bears merit for Tan De. His son, Changshou (Changsu), 20th king of Koguryo, built the tomb. The stele was erected in the 10th year (414 AD) of Yixi’s reign in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. It was roughly made from breccia ash tuff. Almost a square column, the stele is 8.39 meters high and 1-2 meters wide. On the four sides of the stele was inscribed 1,775 Chinese characters. Now about 1,500 characters can be recognized. The inscription was about the legend of the founding of the Koguryo state, early imperial system, the deeds of Haotaiwang conquering the cities and occupying the land, and the mausoleum management system. It is the archaeological material about Koguryo with the longest history and the largest number of characters. The discovery of Haotaiwang Stele proved the location of the center of Koguryo civilization long-forgotten since the Middle Ages. The Stele there takes up an important position in the archaeological remains in Northeast Asia.
9) Linjiang Tomb (临江墓), codenamed YM0043. It is a step-altar pile-stone tomb in the shape of rectangular. Its side lengths are 83 and 56 meters. The existent height is 8.5 meters. Fourteen irregular steps can be seen in the north. Many remnant tiles are found. The tomb was built at an early date.
10) Yushan Tomb No. 2110 (禹山2110号墓), codenamed YM2110. It is a step-altar pile-stone tomb in the shape of rectangular. Its side length is 66 x 38 meters. The height remains 7 meters. A layer of base altar can be seen around the tomb. Many tile pieces with the pattern of ropes are found. Bronze carriage parts were once found on the tomb. The tomb was built at an early date.
11) Yushan Tomb No. 0992 (禹山0992号墓), codenamed YM0992. It is a step-altar pile-stone tomb, square, length side 58 meters and 6 meters high now. Four steps can be seen, Eave tiles with words and pattern of cloud and many tile pieces have been discovered.
12) Tomb of General (将军坟), codenamed YM001. It is best-preserved stone-structure tomb, which belongs to the King Changshouwang, the 20th king of Koguryo. As it is a pointless cone, the tomb is also called “Oriental Pyramid”. The tomb is a square step-altar tomb with stone chamber, square, side length 31.58 m and 12.4 meter high. There are seven altar steps and 22 layers of stone. a square chamber was opened in the middle of fifth step. Two stone coffin beds are in the chamber, covered by huge stone. Around the tomb are 12 10-ton huge stones to back it. On the northern side of it are several subordinate tombs. There is a ritual side about 200 meters to the southwest, covering five hectares. The tomb, designed perfectly and made exquisitely, is the top tomb building in Koguryo. Since then, stone tombs could never be seen in the imperial tombs of Koguryo.
12-1) Subordinate Tomb No.1 to the tomb of General (1号陪葬墓), codenamed YM0002. It is at the back of the Tomb of General, 50 meters from it. The square stone altar tomb has a side of 10 meters and a height of 3.5 meters. It has three steps, the first one is as high as 1.9 meters. The tomb chamber is built by four huge stone blocks, with another one put on the top of it. There are conclave slots on the inner surface of the top stone block to resist water with the shape similar to Liaodong Stone Shed. It could be an imperial tomb.

Nobles’ Tombs

The listed Nobles’ Tombs are 26 in totality.
These tombs include Ohoe Tomb #1 (五盔坟1号墓), Ohoe Tomb #2 (五盔坟2号墓), Ohoe Tomb #3 (五盔坟3号墓), Ohoe Tomb #4 (五盔坟4号墓), Ohoe Tomb #5 (五盔坟5号墓), Tomb of Dancing Figure (舞踊墓), Tomb of the Wrestling Figure (角抵墓), Manger Tomb (马槽墓), Changchuan Tomb #1 (长川1号墓), Changchuan Tomb #2 (长川2号墓), Changchuan Tomb #4 (长川4号墓), Wangzi Tomb (王字墓)、 Huanwen Tomb (环纹墓)、 Tomb of Ranmou (冉牟墓)、 Scattered Lotus Tomb (散莲花墓)、 Four Gods Tomb (四神墓), Yushan Tomb No. 2112 (禹山2112号墓), Yushan Tomb No. 3319 (禹山3319号墓), Sikui Tomb No.1 (四盔坟1号墓), Sikui Tomb No.2 (四盔坟2号墓), Sikui Tomb No.3 (四盔坟3号墓), Sikui Tomb No.4 (四盔坟4号墓), Elder Brother's Tomb (兄墓), Younger Brother's Tomb (弟墓), Zhetianjing Tomb (折天井墓), and Tortoise Shell Tomb (龟甲墓).

Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, China
Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom
Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

 

 

Haotaiwang/Kwanggaeto Tomb and Stele

Tomb of Taiwang (Haotaiwang/Kwanggaeto), codenamed YM0541. As the brick bearing the inscription of "Wish Tomb of Haotaiwang as solid as mountain" was found many times, people got to know it was the tomb of Haotaiwang. Haotaiwang (好太王), the 19th king of Koguryo, was named Tan De (고담덕 高談德 373-414 AD). His full title is "Haotaiwang, Peaceful King of Vast Land” (국강상광개토경평안호태왕 國岡上廣開土境平安好太王). His tomb is a square step-altar pile-stone tomb. Its length is 66 meters, and the existent height is 14.8 meters. The tomb chamber faces westward. The stone coffin chamber is in the shape of a Chinese gabled roof house. Many tiles have been found, including those with the pattern of lotus. It is the only tomb in Koguryo with the exact date and owner.

Located at 200 meters to the northeast of Taiwang Tomb. The stele (The Stele of King Kwanggaeto 好太王碑) bears merit for Tan De. His son, Changshou (Changsu), 20th king of Koguryo, built the tomb. The stele was erected in the 10th year (414 AD) of Yixi’s reign in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. It was roughly made from breccia ash tuff. Almost a square column, the stele is 8.39 meters high and 1-2 meters wide. On the four sides of the stele was inscribed 1,775 Chinese characters. Now about 1,500 characters can be recognized. The inscription was about the legend of the founding of the Koguryo state, early imperial system, the deeds of Haotaiwang conquering the cities and occupying the land, and the mausoleum management system. It is the archaeological material about Koguryo with the longest history and the largest number of characters. The discovery of Haotaiwang Stele proved the location of the center of Koguryo civilization long-forgotten since the Middle Ages. The Stele there takes up an important position in the archaeological remains in Northeast Asia.

Tomb of King Haotaiwang/Kwanggaeto (廣開土太王/광개토대왕)

Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo (374-413, r. 391-413) was the nineteenth monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. His full posthumous name roughly means "Very Greatest King, Broad Expander of Territory, bringer of Peace and Security, buried in Gukgangsang." Under Gwanggaeto, Goguryeo once again became a major power of Northeast Asia, as it had been earlier, during the second century CE. Many consider this loose unification under Goguryeo to have been the first and only true unification of the Three Kingdoms.

Today, King Gwanggaeto the Great is regarded by Koreans as one of their greatest historical heros, and is one of only is one of two rulers, along with King Sejong who were given the title Great after their name. His legacy of greatly expanding the territory of Korea during his reign gave his people great confidence, hope and strength.

Taiwang Tomb (好太王陵) in Ji'an, Jilin Province, China  Taiwang Tomb in Ji'an, Jilin Province, China.

Taiwang Tomb (好太王陵) in Ji'an, Jilin Province, China.   Taiwang Tomb in Ji'an, Jilin Province, China.

Mount of the Taiwang Tomb in Ji'an, Jilin Province, China.   The entrance to the burial chamber of the tomb of Gwanggaeto  

Mount of the Taiwang Tomb in Ji'an, Jilin Province, China.   The entrance to Gwanggaeto tomb

Modern image of King Kwanggaeto   Korean TV Drama:  Gwanggaeto, The Great Conqueror  

Modern image of King Kwanggaeto   Korean TV Drama: Gwanggaeto, The Great Conqueror

Gwanggaeto Stele (好太王碑)

The stele of Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo was erected in 414 by Jangsu of Goguryeo as a memorial to his deceased father. It is one of the major primary sources extant for the history of Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and supplies invaluable historical detail on his reign as well as insights into Goguryeo mythology.

It stands near the tomb of Gwanggaeto in what is today the city of Ji'an along the Yalu River in present-day northeast China, which was the capital of Goguryeo at that time. It is carved out of a single mass of granite, stands nearly 7 meters tall and has a girth of almost 4 meters. The inscription is written exclusively in Classical Chinese and has 1,802 characters.

The stele has also become a focal point of varying national rivalries in East Asia manifested in the interpretations of the stele's inscription and the place of the Empire of Goguryeo in modern historical narratives. An exact replica of the Gwanggaeto Stele stands on the grounds of War Memorial of Seoul[1] and the rubbed copies made in 1881 and 1883 are in the custody of China and the National Museum of Japan, respectively, testament to the stele's centrality in the history of Korea and part of Manchuria.

Gwanggaeto Stele  Gwanggaeto Stele  Gwanggaeto Stele

Gwanggaeto Stele   Gwanggaeto Stele   Gwanggaeto Stele

Rubbed copy of Gwanggaeto Stele taken at Kyushu National Museum   A life-size replica of Gwanggaeto Stele at The War Memorial of Korea   Gwanggaeto Stele replica

Left: Rubbed copy of Gwanggaeto Stele (Kyushu National Museum)   Entire copy   Entire text.   Alternate Rubbed copy   Entire Rubbed copy
Middle: A life-size replica of Gwanggaeto Stele at The War Memorial of Korea
Right: Gwanggaeto Stele replica, Independence Hall of Korea.

The stele tells the origin of the kingdom, the long march to the south from the Amur River to the high valley of the Amnok River, before the region of Tonggu became the cradle of the new power.
Here is the territory where, in times past, the first king Chumu founded [his kingdom]. He came from Puyo in the north; [he was] the son of the Heavenly Emperor. His mother [was] the daughter of the river god. […] In the seventeenth age, this grandson, the great and good […] Kwanggaeto ascended the throne; […] the majestic sky reflected his benevolence; his strength as a warrior extended across the four seas.” [Maurice Courant, “Stèle chinoise du royaume de Ko Kou Rye”, Journal asiatique, Paris, 1897]
The stele further tells of the expeditions to the south of the Korean peninsula to hold off Japanese raids. Covering an immense territory, the Koguryo kingdom thus appears as a real power, the only one rivalling the neighboring principalities of northern China.

 

 

Tomb of the General (Pyramid of the East)

The Tomb of the General (Chinese: 將軍冢 Jiangjun-zhong, Korean: Janggun-chong, Hangul: 장군총), also known as the Pyramid of the East, is the burial tomb of King Changshou (Changsu, Jangsu), the 20th king of Koguryo.

Tomb of General, codenamed YM001. It is best-preserved stone-structure tomb, which belongs to the King Changshouwang, the 20th king of Koguryo. As it is a pointless cone, the tomb is also called “Oriental Pyramid”. The tomb is a square step-altar tomb with stone chamber, square, side length 31.58 m and 12.4 meter high. There are seven altar steps and 22 layers of stone. a square chamber was opened in the middle of fifth step. Two stone coffin beds are in the chamber, covered by huge stone. Around the tomb are 12 10-ton huge stones to back it. On the northern side of it are several subordinate tombs. There is a ritual side about 200 meters to the southwest, covering five hectares. The tomb, designed perfectly and made exquisitely, is the top tomb building in Koguryo. Since then, stone tombs could never be seen in the imperial tombs of Koguryo.

Subordinate Tomb No.1 to the tomb of General, codenamed YM0002. It is at the back of the Tomb of General, 50 meters from it. The square stone altar tomb has a side of 10 meters and a height of 3.5 meters. It has three steps, the first one is as high as 1.9 meters. The tomb chamber is built by four huge stone blocks, with another one put on the top of it. There are conclave slots on the inner surface of the top stone block to resist water with the shape similar to Liaodong Stone Shed. It could be an imperial tomb.

Tomb of the General (Pyramid of the East)

Tomb of the General   The Tomb of the General within Capital Cities of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

Tomb of the General   The Tomb of the General
Located within Capital Cities of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom in Northeast China.

The Tomb of the General is located in Ji'an, Jilin province China, a former capital of Goguryeo. The pyramid was "rediscovered" in 1905.

The base of the pyramid measures approximately 75 meters on each side, about half the size of the Egyptian pyramids and is eleven meters in height. The pyramid is composed of 1,100 dressed stone blocks. Large stones, each measure approximately 3 x 5 meters were placed around the base of the pyramid and can still be seen today. The monumental size of the tomb suggests that the Goguryeo elite were very powerful and the kingdom had the ability to mobilize large numbers of people for building projects.

The pyramid-style tomb was typical of Goguryeo culture and was transmitted to the kingdom of Baekje's burial practices.

The body of the dead elite was placed on a "stone base, surrounded by stones, and then surmounted by a rectangular platform or pyramid of dressed stones."

The design of the tombs incorporated entrances and passageways which facilitated grave robbery and so like most Goguryeo and Baekje tombs, the General's Tomb contains no archaeological artifacts.

Four dolmen tombs were also placed on each corner of the pyramid.

Kim Il-sung's reconstruction of the supposed tomb of Dangun is based on the Tomb of the General.

Tomb of the General  The Tomb of the General  1938

Tomb of the General   The Tomb of the General 1938

 

 

Ohoe Tombs #4 (Wukui Tombs #4, 五盔墳群4號墓)

One of the tombs of the nobles, 6th-7th century, Ji'an, Northeastern China.
It is a wall painting tomb with stone chamber and square corbel caisson, round-corner roof. The four walls in the tomb are painted green dragon, white tiger, rosefinch, and tortoise, lotus, fire and human figures. The beams are painted with dragons. On the caisson are fairies (celestial beings, immortals), clouds and stars, sun god (Fuxi 伏羲), moon god (Nuwa 女媧). On the ceiling are dragons and tigers. It is a typical tomb of late Koguryeo wall painting tomb.
The Ohoe site is called Wukui in China.

Main chamber and East ceiling mural. Ohoe Tomb #4

Mural Paintings in the tombs of the nobles  Mural Paintings in the tombs of the nobles  Mural Paintings in the tombs of the nobles

Ohoe Tomb #4 is decorated with wall paintings

Mural Paintings in the tombs of the nobles

Main chamber and East ceiling mural. Ohoe Tomb #4, Larger enhanced image

Some of the Mural Paintings are highlighted below: #1: a golden dragon occupies the top of the ceiling, #2: Three-legged sun crow is flanked by two celestials In the middle, #3: Sun-god and Moon-goddess on the left ceiling, and #4: Celestial musician and dancers on upper east ceiling.

The golden dragon image

The golden dragon image  The golden dragon image

#1: The golden dragon image on on the top of ceiling. Larger image

Three-legged Sun Crow with flying celestials

Three-legged Sun Crow with flying celestials

#2: Three-legged Sun Crow with flying celestials   Illustration
Goguryeo Tomb Murals - Sun Crow with flying celestials - East ceiling, Ohoe Tomb #4, 6th-7th century. Ji'an, China.
In this mural the sun, with its three-legged crow, is flanked by two celestials: one is riding a phoenix while playing a flute (right), and the other is riding a dragon (left).

Goguryeo Sun-god and Moon-goddess

Sun-god and Moon-goddess  

#3: Goguryeo Sun-god and Moon-goddess   Detailed image   Digital restored image
North side of the ceiling of the main chamber.
The deities of the sun and moon are male and female, respectively. The female deity holds a disc representing the moon above her head while the male deity holds a sun disc containing a crow above his head. Alternatively they are interpreted to be the Chinese deities Fuxi and Nüwa.

Sun-god and Moon-goddess
Goguryeo Moon-goddess  Goguryeo Sun-god

Goguryeo Moon-goddess (Modified image)   Goguryeo Sun-god (Enhanced image)

Left: Goguryeo-moon: Moon goddess from one of the chambers of the Goguryeo tombs, the Goguryeo-era Ohoe Tomb 4. The figure can also be said to be Nüwa 女娲, the first goddess in Chinese myth.
Right: Goguryeo-sun: Sun god from one of the chambers of the Goguryeo tombs, the Goguryeo-era Ohoe Tomb 4. The figure can also be said to be Fuxi 伏羲, the god and the husband of Nüwa in Chinese myth.

Celestial musician and dancers  

#4: Celestial musician and dancers   Digital enhanced image   Larger image   Detailed image   Modern Paintings
Upper East Ceiling Mural

Main chamber and West ceiling mural. Ohoe Tomb #4

Main chamber and West ceiling mural. Ohoe Tomb #4  

The stepped ceiling of Ohoe Tomb #4 begins with a lower band of sinuously intertwining snake or dragon forms. Above this is a band with deities of the forge (far left), a divine wheelwright (middle left), a dragon (middle), and a god of fire (right). The upper band displays a row of celestials flying or carried on birds. Its west beam (right) depicts the moon, while its south beam (left) includes the constellation sign of the South Dipper (not the Big Dipper, which is a northern constellation in Goguryeo tombs). Finally, the top of the ceiling hosts a directional symbol, the Yellow Dragon of the Center (closeup). Overall the decoration of this tomb is very similar to Ohoe #5.

Ohoe Tomb #4 West ceiling mural  

Ohoe Tomb #4 West ceiling mural

Ohoe Tomb #4 West wall mural  

Ohoe Tomb #4 West wall mural
A picture of a white tiger seen in the west wall mural.

Close-up view of the West ceiling mural

Immortals riding a dragon and goose
Immortals riding a dragon and goose

Immortal riding a dragon   Immortal riding a goose
Immortal riding a dragon   Immortal riding a goose
Immortals riding a dragon and a goose, in these closeups from the ceiling of Ohoe tomb #4. Daoist figures are often painted in Goguryeo and Chinese tombs, since Daoist ideas about nature and immortality appealed to the hopes and wishes of the deceased.

One of the immortals

One of the immortals  One of the immortals

One of the immortals   One of the immortals

Wheel-Maker

Wheel-Maker 

Wheel-Maker

God of the Forge

God of the Forge   Modern version

God of the Forge (Metal Tool-Maker)

Left: God of the Forge, Ohoe Tomb #4, 6th-7th century Ji'an, China. View larger image
Since metallurgy was a keystone technology of ancient civilizations, it came to acquire religious connotations and esoteric significance in addition to its practical function. Gods of the forge, like the Greek god Hephaestus and the Vedic god Tvastar, were celebrated in mythology and invoked to assure the success of the work, while human blacksmiths, like the swordsmiths of Japan and Indonesia (example), sometimes acquired a semi-priestly status.
Right: Modern advertising image for metal tools

 

 

Ohoe Tomb #4 (Wukui Tomb #4)

Ohoe Tomb #4 (Wukui Tomb #4)  Ohoe Tomb #4 (Wukui Tomb #4)  Ohoe Tomb #4 (Entrance)

Ohoe Tomb #4 Marker   Ohoe Tomb #4   Ohoe Tomb #4 (Entrance)

Ohoe Tomb #5 (Wukui Tomb #5)

Ohoe Tomb #5 (Wukui Tomb #5)  Ohoe Tomb #5 (Wukui Tomb #5)  Ohoe Tomb #5 (Entrance)

Ohoe Tomb #5 Marker   Ohoe Tomb #5   Ohoe Tomb #5 (Entrance)

 

Ohoe Tombs #5 (Wukui Tomb #5, 五盔墳群5號墓)

One of the tombs of the nobles, 6th-7th century, Ji'an, Northeastern China.
It is a wall painting tomb with stone chamber and square corbel caisson, round-corner roof. The stone walls in the tomb are painted four gods, lotus, fire. The beams are painted with dragons. On the caisson are fairies (celestial beings, immortals), clouds, sun god (Fuxi 伏羲), moon god (Nuwa 女媧), a human figure holding a torch (Legendary first fire maker 燧人氏), ox-head human figure (Legendary creator of agriculture and medicine 神農氏), wheel-maker, dragons and tigers.

Mural Paings in the Main chamber, Ohoe Tomb #5

Mural Paings in the Main chamber, Ohoe Tomb #5

Mural Paings in the Main chamber, Ohoe Tomb #5
The decoration of Ohoe Tomb #5 follows Ohoe Tomb #4 so closely that the same individual must have designed both.

Sun and moon gods 

Sun and moon gods Northeast corner and Ohoe IV Tomb.

Rosefinch (Red Bird) on south wall in Wukui Tomb No. 5 

Rosefinch (Red Bird) on south wall in Wukui Tomb No. 5

Immortals riding on a dragon and on a Kirin

Immortals riding on a dragon and on a Kirin 

Immortals riding on a dragon and on a Kirin Northwest corner of the main chamber.

Two Immortals

Two Immortals 

Two Immortals

The First Fire Maker and The Creator of Agriculture and Medicine

According to Chinese Legends

The First Fire Maker and The Creator of Agriculture and Medicine   The First Fire Maker and The Creator of Agriculture and Medicine

A human figure holding a torch (Legendary first fire maker 燧人氏) and an ox-head human figure (Legendary creator of agriculture and medicine 神農氏),

Devine Farmer   Devine Farmer

Left: An ox-head human figure (Legendary creator of agriculture and medicine 神農氏)
Right: Modern Painting of The First Fire Maker and The Creator of Agriculture and Medicine

 

 

Muyongchong Tomb (Dancing Figure Tomb 舞踊墓) 5th century ce

The Dancing Figure Tomb (Chinese: Wuyong, Korean: Muyong) in the Yushan tomb area of Ji'an city, Jilin province, Northeast China.
The Dancing Figure Tomb is an earth tomb, similar to The Wrestling Figure Tomb with stone chamber and wall paintings. The main wall has the painting of a couple sitting toward each other accompanied by maids. On the eastern wall is the famous dancing wall painting, including chorus, group dancers, lead dancer and audience. On the western wall is the wall painting of hunting. The caisson is painted with lotus, flower buds, odd animals, fairy birds, fairy figures, stars, wrestlers, music players, three-feet crow and toad. It is a early wall painting tomb of Koguryeo.

Paintings on West Wall of Dancing Figure Tomb

Paintings on East Wall  Paintings on East Wall

Paintings on East Wall   Paintings on East Wall
View larger image   View digital improved image

Hunting scene

This hunting scene is regarded as a masterpiece. The mounted horsemen with bows and arrows pursue tigers and deer through a fantastical landscape with stylised mountains and trees that suggest representations of the tree of life. The mounted hunters wear the same headdress as the lead male dancer in the mural on the East wall. The details of the equipage show that the horses were fitted with elaborate reins and girdles, and the stirrup that was essential for the speed of the hunt. Every detail in this mural reinforces the dynamism of the composition, and the movement is highlighted by the contrast with the covered ox cart parked behind a tree to one side of the scene of the hunt, presumably waiting to transport the catch back home or possibly simply waiting to convey the master home in comfort. (Reference: The Australian National University - CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY: The Mural Tombs of Gaogouli-Koguryo)

Hunting scene

The animal hunt was another aristocratic pastime to be enjoyed in the afterlife..

Hunting scene  Hunting scene

Left; Hunting scene Muyongchong Tomb   View large image
Right; Hunting scene Detail showing a parked ox cart from the hunting scene.

Painting of Hunting scene  

Modern Painting of Hunting scene of Mural Painting in Muyongchong Tomb
Image on the Left   Image on the Right

Paintings on East Wall of Dancing Figure Tomb

Paintings on East Wall   Paintings on East Wall Ceiling  

Left: Paintings on East Wall   Close-up view of Paintings on East Wall
Right: Paintings on East Wall Ceiling include a three-star constellation (circles connected by lines) at upper right; a flying figure at left; a central lotus surrounded by a dragon, a phoenix, and a Chinese figure on a platform; and more lotuses at the bottom. View digital restoration image   View larger image

Dancing scene

In this section of the mural we see a row of five dancers performing a coordinated line dance behind a leading male wearing an elaborate headdress possibly containing feathers. The men wear loose trousers and long jackets, while the women wear long gowns tied at the waist over very full trousers. The long flowing sleeves of the dancers would have highlighted their arm movements. Ten musicians and singers provide accompaniment for the dancers. (Reference: The Australian National University - CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY: The Mural Tombs of Gaogouli-Koguryo)

Dancing scene  

Dancing scene in Muyongchong Tomb   View digital restored image

Dancing scene

Dancing scene   Altenate image with a dog
Close-up view of the dancers   Close-up view of the dancers

Paintings on the Ceiling of East Wall

Paintings on East Wall -A celestial musician  Paintings on East Wall Ceiling -Blue Dragon  

A celestial musician   Blue Dragon
View large image of celestial musician

 

The serving scene

The serving scene shows the master and mistress seated on backless raised chairs and the food is being set on the master's side table by a male servant. Incense burners or braziers can be seen on other small tables.
The wife appears to be speaking and making expansive gestures with her hands. Not shown here is the more general view of the kitchen, from which we know that the master and mistress were waited on by a retinue of about eight servants, many of them women.

The serving scene   The serving scene  

View of the seated tomb owner and his wife facing each other
Left image   Right image

The serving scene and the fighting scene

The fighting scene is seen on the ceiling on top of the serving scene.

The serving scene 

Digital restored image of serving scene and ceiling painting  

The fighting scene

The fighting scene on the ceiling of the serving scene.

Fighting scene on the ceiling paintings  Fighting scene on the ceiling paintings

Fighting scene on the ceiling paintings   Fighting scene on the ceiling paintings

Illustration of the fighting scene  Illustration of the fighting scene  

Illustration of the fighting scene   Illustration of the fighting scene

Paintings on South Wall Ceiling of Dancing Figure Tomb

Two red birds are seen.

Paintings on South Wall Ceiling of Dancing Figure Tomb 

Digital restored image of Paintings on South Wall Ceiling  

 

 

Gakjeochong Tomb (Tomb of the Wrestlers 角抵墓) 5th cent. A.D. Ji’an, Northeast China.

T Wrestling Figure Tomb is located in Yushan tomb area, 3 kilometers northeast of the city. It is an earth tomb with stone chamber and wall paintings. The tomb has left and right side chambers and a path to the main chamber with a square arch roof. The north wall is painted with banquet and drinking scenes. The best wall painting here is wrestling picture on the eastern wall. The caisson is painted with gods of sun and moon and the pattern of grasses. This is a tomb of early Koguryeo.

Ssireum (Korean wrestling) scene

Ssireum depicted on Goguryeo mural  Detail of the wrestlers

Left: Ssireum (Korean wrestling) depicted on Goguryeo mural   Alternate image
The Gakjeochong (각저총) mural, one of the Goguryeo tombs shows ssireum competition between Gogoryeo man and Seoyeokin (서역인, an Arab).
In the painting, two wrestlers with Central Asian features exert themselves under the supervision of a Korean referee with grey beard and staff (right)
Gakjeochong (Kakchŏch'ong) is also called the "Tomb of the Wrestlers" after the cirŭm (ssireum) wrestling scene.
Right: Detail of the wrestlers

Dining Scene

Dining Scene  Dining Scene

Left: Dining Scene
The master, wearing armor, takes refreshment with two ladies. The diners relax beneath an elaborate canopy, accompanied by the usual retinue of servants and attendants.
Right: The tomb-owner drinking tea.
Kakjochong Tomb. East wall of the main chamber.

Astronomical Ceiling

Astronomical Ceiling  Sun crow

Left: Astronomical Ceiling
The construction of Gakjeochong's ceiling is the typical octagonal corbelled dome. Goguryeo astronomical ceilings are a mixture of mythological and symbolic motifs, constellations, stars, and planets. Although most of the Gakjeochong ceiling is taken up with scrolling cloud motifs, there are at least three constellations to be seen in the north, south, and southwest respectively. There is a heavily damaged sun crow in the east, and a moon toad (closeup) in the west.
Right: Sun crow Three-legged black bird inside a wheel.

 

 

Manger Tomb (Horse Trough 馬槽墓 Macao) in Yushan tomb area, Ji’an, Northeast China.

An earth tomb with double stone chambers and wall paintings. The wall painting about the killing of captives in north chamber is the only one of its kind. The right room of the south chamber has the wall painting of manger, from which the tomb got its name.

The tomb was named by a Japanese archaeologist in 1937 because the murals included a scene in a stable. However that mural was later destroyed by the action of opening the door of the tomb chamber. The tomb was again surveyed in 1962, and the door that had done the damage was repaired in 1977. This tomb has been dated to the 5th century.

Manger Tomb 馬槽墓

Manger Tomb 馬槽墓r

Manger Tomb 馬槽墓

The scene of a soldier decapitating a prisoner of war 武士斬俘圖

The scene of a soldier decapitating a prisoner of war

The scene of a soldier decapitating a prisoner of war   Alternate image
The depiction of warfare rarely appears in Koguryeo murals, but the Macao Tomb murals contain a scene interpreted to illustrate a soldier decapitating a prisoner of war. Scholars believe that the man delivering the fatal blow is intended to be a portrayal of the tomb occupant. The identity of the owner of the tomb is, however, not known.

 

 

Changchuan Tomb #1 (长川1號墓)

Earth tomb with stone chambers and wall paintings. It has front and rear chambers. The wall paintings in the front chamber display Buddhist worshipping by the leaders of Koguryeo. The northern wall has rich variety of wall paintings, including hunting, travelling, games, wrestling, carriage and dancing. They are masterpieces of wall paintings of folklore and figures in early Koguryeo. However, some parts of the wall paintings have been stolen recently. On the caisson are the wall paintings about Bodhisattva, flying fairies and lotus as well as religious scenes of the tomb owner worshipping Buddha and accompanied by servants. In the rear chamber are continuous wall paintings of lotuses. The caisson bears the pattern and Chinese characters of the Big Dipper. From the fact that the wall paintings are painted twice, it is likely that the tomb was used twice.

Paintings on East Wall of Front chamber, Changchuan Tomb #1

Paintings on East Wall of Front chamber, Changchuan Tomb #1  Illustration of Paintings on East Wall, Front chamber

Left: Paintings on East Wall of Front chamber, Changchuan Tomb #1
Right: Illustration of Paintings on East Wall of Front chamber  

Ceiling Paintings on East Wall of Front chamber, Changchuan Tomb #1

Detail of the Illustration  The Scene of Worshipping Buddha

Left: Illustration of Ceiling Paintings on East Wall of Front chamber
The door in East Wall of Front chamber is also the entrance to the rear chamber. The ceiling images of Buddha, Kirins (Central Deity) and Red Phoenixes (Southtern Deity) indicates this is the main wall and astrologically facing south.

Right: The Scene of Worshipping Buddha

 

Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

Illustration of Paintings on North Wall of Front chamber, Changchuan Tomb #1

Illustration of Paintings on North Wall of Front chamber, Changchuan Tomb #1  Illustration of Ceiling Painings on North Wall, Front chamber

Left: Illustration of Paintings on East Wall of Front chamber, Changchuan Tomb #1
Right: Illustration of Ceiling Painings on North Wall, Front chamber  

Right Upper Section of Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

Right upper section of Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

Right upper section of Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1
The presentation of 7 precious gems.

The Hunting Scene - Lower Part of Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

The Hunting Scene - Lower Part of Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

The Hunting Scene - Lower Part of Paintings on North Wall, Changchuan Tomb #1

 

 

 




Complex of Koguryo Tombs in North Korea

The site includes several groups and individual tombs - totalling about 30 individual graves - from the later period of the Koguryo Kingdom, one of the strongest kingdoms in northeast China and half of the Korean peninsula between the 3rd century BC and 7th century AD. The tombs, many with beautiful wall paintings, are almost the only remains of this culture. Only about 90 out of more than 10,000 Koguryo tombs discovered in China and Korea so far, have wall paintings. Almost half of these tombs are located on this site and they are thought to have been made for the burial of kings, members of the royal family and the aristocracy. These paintings offer a unique testimony to daily life of this period. (UNESCO Document: Complex of Koguryo Tombs, BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS)


Location in North Korea: Pyongyang (平壤), South Phyongan Province, Nampho (南浦), and South Hwanghae Province.

The sites in Pyongyang area include
(1) Koguryo tombs around the Tomb of King Tongmyong   (Jinpha-ri Group of Tombs No. 1 ~15 included),
(2) Koguryo tombs around the Honam-ri Sasin (Four Deities) Tomb.

The sites in South Phyongan Province (Taedong area) include
(3) Tokhwa-ri Tombs No. 1, 2, 3.

The sites in Nampho (Kangso & Ryonggang areas) include
(4) Kangso Three Tombs, (5) Tokhung-ri Tomb, (6) Yaksu-ri Tomb, (7) Susan-ri Tomb, (8) Ryonggang Great Tomb (9) Twin-Column Tomb.

The sites in South Hwanghae Province (Anak area) include
(10) Anak Tombs no. 1, 2, 3.
(UNESCO Document: Complex of Koguryo Tombs, Section 1c,d,e,f)


Complex of Koguryo Tombs in North Korea

As the last remnants of its past greatness, Koguryo’s tombs and their rich mural paintings are an exceptional testimony in North-East Asia to a pictorial tradition unique in its diversity and its abundance. The evolution of this tradition can be followed for almost four centuries—from the first tombs grouped around the second capital (today Ji’an, China) to those around Pyongyang, the last capital. The first tiered tombs on the Korean-Chinese border were in fact pyramids of stone with earth mounds covering the funerary chambers, built following an increasingly complex layout (pillared antechamber, central hall, and chamber of the deceased). The laternendecke ceiling recalls the Turkic world and, beyond Central Asia, the caves of Bamiyan and the Afghan regions at the foot of the Hindu Kush.

But their most spectacular legacy remains above all the paintings, which in the examples conserved around Pyongyang often appear astonishingly fresh. The oldest tomb of the complex, (Anak III), built in 357, shows the ambiguity of relations between rival kingdoms in the north-east of China. They are also a direct and often touching testimony to life and society, when the deceased showcases himself, receiving the homage of his subjects, in the company of his wife, and displaying his wealth and prosperity. The vitality of the compositions and their humour, their sense of realism and of living detail demonstrate a characteristic sensitivity and a true mastery of the art of painting.
The same is true of the later highly stylized and powerful compositions representing the Four Guardian Deities, the symbols of the four directions: the white tiger of the west, the phoenix of the south, the black tortoise of the north and the dragon of the east. Even though these are typical creatures of Chinese mythology, their representation and stylization here show a very high degree of plasticity, a sense of composition and concision—purified images, almost heraldic, of a marvelous, quite fantastic, world, standing out from the walls in an abstract space. In these paintings one can distinguish concepts and dreams, astronomical charts, the moon and sun, and the symbol of the Great Bear; one may also decipher mental or even philosophical conceptions, as in the first figural representations of Buddha, echoing the first gilded bronzes found in Chinese territory. But here the clothes are in Koguryo style; just as the tomb of Takamatsu zuka in Japan shows ample evidence of northern influence, underlining the undeniable role that the Koguryo kingdom played in the transmission of Buddhism to the Japanese Archipelago.

Complex of Koguryo Tombs in North Korea

The Complex of Koguryo Tombs is a serial property and includes several groups and individual tombs situated mainly at the foot of mountains and some in villages. Located in Pyongyang and surrounding provinces, the tombs are thought to have been made for the burial of kings, members of the royal family and the aristocracy.

There are several types of tombs included in the property, based on the number of burial chambers – single chamber, two chambers, and multi-chambers with side chambers. They represent the full range of the Koguryo tomb typology and showcase the best examples of this construction technology. The tombs are monumental, stone-chambered earthen mounds that were skillfully constructed with ingenious ceiling designs to support the heavy weight above. The technology employed represented a unique, creative and long-sought engineering solution to the technical problems posed by underground tomb construction.

The wall paintings constitute masterpieces of the art of wall painting. The subject matter of the wall paintings of the tombs offers unique evidence of the richness and complexity of the now-vanished Koguryo culture, portraying the costumes, food, residential life and burial customs, as well as religious practices and imagery associated with Buddhism, Taoism and the Four Deities.

The Complex of Koguryo Tombs represents an exceptional testimony to the Koguryo culture, its burial customs, daily life and beliefs. The special burial customs of this culture had an important influence on other cultures in the region, including those of Japan.


Among the cultural heritage left by the Koguryo kingdom, most typical are the stone-piled tombs and stone-chambered, earthen mound tombs.
The stone-piled tombs had existed from the earlier period of the Koguryo dynasty until the c. 5th century AD.
The stone-chambered tombs covered by earthen mounds appeared at around the 1st century and gradually replaced the stone-piled tombs, until the last period of Koguryo. (UNESCO document: Complex of Koguryo Tombs, Section 2a)

 

Tomb of King Tongmyong/Dongmyeong (동명왕릉 東明王陵)

The Tomb of King Tongmyŏng is a mausoleum located in Ryongsan-ri, near Pyongyang, North Korea. One of the tombs is the royal tomb of Tongmyŏng (58–19 BC), the founder of the ancient Goguryeo kingdom, northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. In total, there are 63 individual tombs of the period. The area around the Tongmyong contains at least fifteen known tombs believed to belong to various vassal lords. The tomb has achieved World Heritage status as part of the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs inscribed by UNESCO in 2004.

King Dongmyeong of Goguryeo (58 BCE – 19 BCE, r. 37 BCE – 19 BCE) or Dongmyeongseongwang (동명성왕 東明聖王), which literally means Holy King of the East, also known by his birth name Jumong (주몽; 朱蒙), was the founding monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. In the Gwanggaeto Stele, he is called Chumo-wang (King Chumo). In the Samguk Sagi and the Samgungnyusa, he is recorded as Jumong with the surname Go. The Samguk Sagi states that he was also known as Chumo or Sanghae (상해 象解). The name is also transcribed in other records as Chumong (추몽 鄒蒙), Jungmo (중모 中牟 or 仲牟), or Domo (도모 都牟).

King Tongmyong Tomb

King Tongmyong Tomb

King Tongmyong Tomb   View larger image

King Tongmyong Tomb

King Tongmyong Tomb   View larger image

Temple and Statue at the King Tongmyong Tomb

Temple at the King Tongmyong Tomb

Temple at the King Tongmyong Tomb

Statue of King Dongmyeong

Statue of King Dongmyeong at the Tomb of King Dongmyeong in Pyongyang.

 

 

Jinpha-ri Tomb in Pyongyang area

It was the Koguryo’s custom to plant pine trees in rows around the tombs.
Jinpha-ri Tombs No. 1 and 4 have the depiction of four deities.

Jinpha-ri tomb group

Jinpha-ri tomb group

Jinpha-ri tomb group

Entranceway (Jinpha-ri Tomb)

Entranceway (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)   Entranceway (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.14)

Entranceway (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)   Entranceway (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.14)

Painting of the ceiling in Jinpha-ri Tomb

Painted Samgak pyonghang koim ceiling   Painting of the ceiling in Jinpha-ri Tomb

Left: Painted Samgak pyonghang koim ceiling. Jinpari I Tomb (second half of the 6th c. ce)
Right: Painting of the ceiling in Jinpha-ri Tomb The northwest Corner of the ceiling (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.4)

 

Painting on the north wall of Jinpha-ri Tomb

Painting on the north wall of Jinpha-ri Tomb  Painting of Pine Tree in Jinpha-ri Tomb

Painting on the north wall Jinpha-ri Tomb No.1
Pine Tree North wall (easten section), Jinpha-ri Tomb No.1

Ceiling structure (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)

Ceiling structure (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)

Ceiling structure (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)

 

 

Anak Tomb No. 3 (안악3호분 / 安岳三號墳)

Anak Tomb No. 3, The oldest tomb of the complex, built in 357, is a chamber tomb of Goguryeo located in Anak, South Hwanghae, North Korea. It is known for mural paintings and an epitaph. It is part of the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs.
It was discovered in 1949 with valuable treasures having been stolen, but murals were kept in good condition.

Anak Tomb No. 3

Anak Tomb No. 3  Anak Tomb No. 3

Anak Tomb No. 3   Anak Tomb No. 3 (Height: 6 meters)

Entranceway (Anak Tomb No. 3)  Entranceway (Anak Tomb No. 3)

Entranceway (Anak Tomb No. 3)   Entranceway (Anak Tomb No. 3)

Perspective view of Anak Tomb No. 3  Painting on Entrance Wall

Perspective view of Anak Tomb No. 3   Painting on Entrance Wall

Painting on Entrance Wall  Painting on Entrance Wall (Sumo Match)

Painting on Entrance Wall   Painting on Entrance Wall (Sumo Match)

Portrait of the tomb owner and owmer's wife.

Portrait of the tomb owner.  Portrait of the tomb owner’s wife.

Left: Portrait of the tomb owner.  View larger image  View full mural image
Right: Portrait of the tomb owner’s wife.

Portrait of the tomb owner and owmer's wife.

Portrait of the tomb owner and owmer's wife (Digital enhanced image)

 

Military procession

Military procession.

Military procession
Wall mural of the tomb of Dong Shou. View larger image   View Digital restored image

Detail of a section of military procession  Detail of the tomb owner in the military procession

Detail of a section of military procession    Detail of the tomb owner in the military procession

Military procession sceneMilitary procession scene. Anak III Tomb. East side of the corridor of the main chamber.

Mural painting of Anak Tomb 3 Kitchen and carriage shed

Mural painting of Anak Tomb 3 Kitchen and carriage shed

Mural painting of Anak Tomb 3 Kitchen and carriage shed
View larger image

Anak Tomb 3 Kitchen SceneDepiction of a kitchen, meat store and carriage shed. Anak III Tomb. East Wall.
View digital enhanced image

 

 

Tokhung-ri Tomb (Deokheung-ri Tomb 德興里古墳)

Tokhung-ri tomb, located in Nampho, North Korea (南浦市江西区域徳興里), built in 408 ce, is one of the three tombs with an inscription of the name of the tomb-owner and the date of its construction. (UNESCO Document)

Perspective View of Tokhung-ri Tomb

Perspective View of Tokhung-ri Tomb

Perspective View of Tokhung-ri Tomb

Perspective View of Tokhung-ri Tomb

Perspective View of Tokhung-ri Tomb

Perspective View of Tokhung-ri Tomb

 

13 government officials congratulating the tomb-owner, Jin

13 government officials congratulating the tomb-owner, Jin  Portrait of the tomb owner, Jinr

13 government officials congratulating the tomb-owner, Jin   Portrait of the tomb owner, Jin

13 government officials congratulating the tomb-owner, Jin.  Portrait of the tomb owner, Jin.

Left; 13 government officials congratulating the tomb-owner, Jin, on his appointment to an important post.
khung-ri Tomb (408 ce), Nampo. West and north walls of the antechamber
Right; Portrait of the tomb owner, Jin

Military procession

Military procession   Military procession

Military procession   Military procession (Close-up)

Military procession.   Military procession.

Left; Military procession: Armored horses and riders Tokhung-ri Tomb. East wall of the antechamber.
Right; Military procession Tokhung-ri Tomb. East wall of the passage between the antechamber and the main chamber.

 

Antechamber

The ceiling of  Antechamber   Entrance wall of Main Chamber

The ceiling of Antechamber   Entrance wall of Main Chamber

Main Chamber

Main Chamber   Main Chamber

Main Chamber   Main Chamber

 

Paintings on East Wall of Main Chamber

Paintings on East Wall of Main Chamber   Painting of of one of the blossoming lotus flowers

Left: Paintings on East Wall of Main Chamber demonstrated strong influence of Buddhism, depicting a pond with 2 large lotus flowers blossoming (left) and 7 precious gems were presented (right).
Right: Painting of of one of the blossoming lotus flowers Pattern drowing on the right.

Painting of 7 precious gems were presented   Digital enhanced image of Painting of 7 precious gems were presented

Painting of 7 precious gems were presented   Digital enhanced image

 

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber depict the realm and the life after death.

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing east

Paintings of Hunting scenes on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing east

Paintings of Hunting scenes on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing east
Detailed image of Hunting scenes
Detailed image of the flying fish (UNESCO Document: Preservation of the Koguryo Kingdom Tombs, p27)

Illustration of Hunting scenes on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing east

Illustration of Hunting scenes on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing east   Alternate Illustration

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing west

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing west

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing west

Illustration of Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing west

Illustration of Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing west   Alternate Illustration

 

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing south

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing south

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing south

Illustration of Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing south

Illustration of Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing south

Local Details: The Cowherd and The Weaver Girl (牛郎織女)

The Cowherd and The Weaver Girl (牛郎織女)   Modern Painting of The Cowherd and The Weaver Girl (牛郎織女)

Left: Local Details: The Cowherd and The Weaver Girl (牛郎織女)
Right: Modern Painting of The Cowherd and The Weaver Girl (牛郎織女)  
The legend is a love story between Zhinü (織女; the weaver girl, symbolizing the star Vega) and Niulang (牛郎; the cowherd, symbolizing the star Altair).Their love was not allowed, thus they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (symbolizing the Milky Way Galaxy). Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day.

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing north

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing north

Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing north

Illustration of Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing north

Illustration of Paintings on the dome ceiling of the antechamber facing north

 

 

 

The Yaksu-ri Tomb

Early 5th Century
The discovery and excavation of the Yaksu-ri Tomb in 1958 was an important event in the history of the research carried out on the Koguryo tombs and mural paintings.

Although the Yaksu-ri Tomb is a two-chamber tomb, there are niches on both sides of the antechamber in which mural paintings appear. A mural painting depicting a kitchen, hunting scenes, a mill and horses is strongly reminiscent of similar paintings in the Anak III tomb. The painting on the southern wall of the chamber depicts a procession; the northern mural shows scenes from the life of the owner of the tomb. Such scenes are common to other Koguryo tombs; however, the presence of the “Sasindo” (Four Guardian Deities), as well as of stars in the northernmost part of the mural, and a small picture of the deceased couple whose tomb this is, marks the beginnings of a change in style.

On the evidence of such mural paintings, the Yaksuri Tomb has been dated somewhere between the early Koguryo tombs, which contain murals depicting daily life, and the later ones that contain mainly Sasindo. It also represents an intermediate step in the historical process of structural development that saw multi-chamber tombs, which had become prevalent in the middle stages of the Koguryo kingdom, being once again supplanted by one-chamber tombs in the late period of the kingdom.

Yaksu-ri Tomb

Exterior view of Yaksu-ri Tomb   East wall of the antechamber: military procession scene

Exterior view of Yaksu-ri Tomb.   East wall of the antechamber: military procession scene.

Yaksu-ri Tomb

detail of a hunting scene   “blackwarrior” and portrait of the deceased couple.

South wall of the antechamber: detail of a hunting scene.   North wall of the main chamber: “blackwarrior” and portrait of the deceased couple.

 

 

Susanri Tomb

second half of the 5th century ce, jn Nampo.

Susan-ri Tomb

Susan-ri Tomb

Susan-ri Tomb

Susan-ri Tomb (Entrance)

Two protective guards at the Entrance to the chamber

Two protective guards at the Entrance to the chamber

Susan-ri Tomb (Entrance)

Detailed image of one of the protective guard   Artistic illustration of one of the protective guard

Detailed image of one of the protective guard   Artistic illustration of the guard
Detailed image of the guard

 

Wall paintings on Eastern Wall, Susan-ri Tomb

Wall paintings on Eastern Wall  Wall paintings on Eastern Wall (Left upper section)  Wall paintings on Eastern Wall (Left lower section)

Wall paintings on Eastern Wall   Left upper section   Left lower section


Artistic illustration of Eastern Wall paintings (Left upper section)   Artistic illustration of Eastern Wall paintings (Left lower section)

Artistic illustration of Eastern Wall paintings
Left upper section   Left lower section


Wall paintings on Westtern Wall, Susan-ri Tomb

Wall paintings on Westtern Wall  Digitally improved image of Wall paintings on Westtern Wall

Left: Wall paintings on Westtern Wall The tomb-owner couple leads a procession. In front of them, acrobats perform various tricks, such as pole walking and ball rolling.
Right: Digitally improved image   View digitally restored image


Artistic illustration of Westtern Wall paintings   Artistic illustration of Westtern Wall paintings

Artistic illustration of Westtern Wall paintings   Artistic illustration of Westtern Wall paintings


Wall paintings on Southtern Wall, Susan-ri Tomb

Wall paintings on Southtern Wall/Westtern Wall   Wall paintings on Southtern Wall

Wall paintings on Southtern Wall/Westtern Wall   Wall paintings on Southtern Wall


Digital improved image of Southtern Wall paintingsl   Artistic illustration of Southtern Wall paintings

Digital improved image of Southtern Wall paintings   Artistic illustration of Southtern Wall paintings


Wall paintings on Northtern Wall, Susan-ri Tomb

Wall paintings on Northtern Wall   Wall paintings on Northtern Wall

Wall paintings on Northtern Wal   The images of the owner, his wife and 3 maids are damaged.


Artistic illustration of the maids   Artistic illustration of the maids

Artistic illustration of the maids   Artistic illustration of the maids


 

 

The ceilings of the tomb chambers

The shape of the ceilings of the chambers varied: flat ceiling , dome ceiling, dome combined with paralleled corbelling, trapezoid ceiling, ceiling corbelled in octagonal shape , ceiling corbelled in parallel shape, ceiling with paralleled triangular corbelling (or laternendecke ceiling), etc.
Among the various ceiling shapes, the laternendecke ceiling is the most typical of the Koguryo earthen mound tombs.

Ceiling formed by the octagonal corbelling

Ceiling formed by the octagonal corbelling

Ceiling formed by the octagonal corbelling (Tokhwa-ri Tomb No.1)

Main chamber ceiling of Tukhwa-ri I Tomb

Main chamber ceiling of Tukhwa-ri I Tomb

Main chamber ceiling of Tukhwa-ri I Tomb Tukhwa-ri I Tomb (late 5thearly 6th c.), South Pyongan Province. North side of the main chamber ceiling: a redcoloured big dipper is drawn across four successive tiers, surrounded by decorative patterns and constellations.

 

Ceiling structure (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)

Ceiling structure (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)

Ceiling structure (Jinpha-ri Tomb No.7)

Painted ceiling: lotus flower and heavenly world

Painted ceiling: lotus flower and heavenly world

Painted ceiling: lotus flower and heavenly world. Sangyongchong Tomb, built in the late fifth century, Namp’o, North Korea

 

 

Kangso Three Tombs (강서세무덤   江西三墓)

The Kangso Three Tombs are mausoleums located in Kangso-guyok, North Korea. They are part of the Complex of Koguryo Tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The large tomb is 50 metres long and 8.7 metres high, the middle tomb is 45 metres long and 7.8 metres high and the small one is 40 metres long and 6.75 metres high. The Four guardian deities are depicted in the Kangso Great Tomb. The Kangso Three Tombs were unearthed in 1911 by Japanese archaeologist Imanishi Ryū and were extensively studied. (Wikipedia)

General view of the Kangso Three Tombs (江西三墓)

General view of the Kangso Three Tombs

General view of the Kangso Three Tombs in Nampho.

The Kangso Three Tombs

The Kangso Three Tombs

The Kangso Three Tombs in Nampho.
The mural paintings found in The Kangso Three Tombs are one of the best paintings left from Koguryo dynasty. The themes of mural paintings are four sacred animals: hyonmu (turtle-shaped mythical animal), chongryong (blue-dragon), paekho (white tiger), jujak (phoenis).

Kangso Three Tombs   Kangso Three Tombs

Kangso Three Tombs   Kangso Three Tombs

Four Guardian Deities

Four Guardian Deities the symbols of the four directions: the dragon of the east, the white tiger of the west, the phoenix of the south, and the black tortoise of the north.
The Four guardian deities are depicted in the Kangso Great Tomb.

Kangso Large Tomb (Gangseo Daemyo 江西大墓)

Kangso Great Tomb, Namp’o, North Korea   Entrance of Kangso Large Tomb

Kangso Great (Large) Tomb in Nampho. North Korea   Entrance of Kangso Large Tomb

Entrance of Kangso Great Tomb   Kangso Great Tomb in 1915

Entrance of Kangso Great Tomb   Kangso Great Tomb in 1915

Ceiling of Kangso Great Tomb   Ceiling of Kangso Great Tomb

Ceiling of Kangso Great Tomb   Ceiling of Kangso Great Tomb
The mural paintings found in Kangso Great Tomb are one of the best paintings left from Koguryo dynasty. The themes of mural paintings are four sacred animals: hyonmu (turtle-shaped mythical animal), chongryong (blue-dragon), paekho (white tiger), jujak (phoenis).

Black Turtle   Blue Dragon

Black Turtle North wall of the main chamber.   Blue Dragon East wall of the main chamber.

Red phoenixes   Blue Dragon

Left: Red phoenixes South wall of the main chamber. Alternate image
Right: White Tiger West wall of the main chamber. Close-up

Paintings on the ceiling of the main chamber   Paintings on the ceiling of the main chamber

Paintings on the ceiling of the main chamber   Paintings on the ceiling of the main chamber

 

 

Four guardian deities

Four Guardian Deities, defenders of the four directions to guard the soul of the deceased against demons.

Blue dragon (青龍)

Blue dragon

Blue dragon Kangseo Great Tomb. East wall of the main chamber.
Alternate image (UNESCO Document: Complex of Koguryo Tombs)

Blue Dragon

Blue Dragon of the mural of the Goguryeo Tomb

White tiger (白虎)

White tiger

White tiger Yaksuri Tomb (early 5th c. ce), Nampo. West wall.

White tige

White tiger Kangseo Middle Tomb. West wall of the main chamber.

 

Red phoenixes (朱雀)

Red phoenixes

A pair of red phoenixes Painted on either side of the entrance.
Kangso Great Tomb (early 7th c. ce), Nampo. South wall of main chamber
View Replication image in 1930 at NATIONAL MUSEUM OF KOREA

Red phoenix   Red phoenix

Left: Red phoenix
Kangso Middle Tomb built between the second half of sixth century and the first half seventh century AD, Namp’o, North Korea
Right: Red phoenix

Black Turtle (玄武)

Black warrior: a combination of snake and turtle in one body

Black warrior: a combination of snake and turtle in one body

Black warrior: a combination of snake and turtle in one body
Kangso Great Tomb. North wall of the main chamber (Drawing of the main chamber on left).

Black Snake 玄武  Turtle-Snake  Turtle-Snake

Black Snake 玄武   Turtle-Snake   Turtle-Snake

A replica of a mural of one of the directional dieties found in a Goguryeo Tomb at the National Museum of Korea.   Figurine of Black Tortoise in Quanzhou Museum

Left: A replica of a mural of one of the directional dieties found in a Goguryeo Tomb at the National Museum of Korea.
Right: Figurine of Black Tortoise in Quanzhou Museum. According to the lable, they date from the Song Dynasty, and have been unearthed from the Dongyue Hill (东岳山) within Quanzhou City..

 

Blue dragon

Blue dragon

Blue dragon

White tiger

White tiger

White tiger

Red phoenixes

Red phoenixes

Red phoenixes

Black Turtle

Black Turtle

Black Turtle

 

Blue dragon 청룡도

Blue dragon 청룡도

Blue dragon 청룡도

White tiger 백호도

White tiger 백호도

White tiger 백호도

Red phoenix 주작도

Red phoenix 주작도

Red phoenix 주작도

Black Turtle 현무도

Black Turtle 현무도

Black Turtle 현무도


Artistic Illustration of Four guardian deities

Blue dragon

Blue dragon

Blue dragon

White tiger

White tiger

White tiger

Red phoenixes

Red phoenixes

Red phoenixes

Black Turtle

Black Turtle

Black Turtle



 

 







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