VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Chang Seung, the guardian deity
46336
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Chang Seung is a general term for wood or stone statues, which are also called Beok Su, Beop Su, and Beok Shi in different regions of Korea. They were often built up in pairs on the side of the roads, at the entrance to villages and towns and in the temples primarily in order to protect the people against evil spirits. It was believed that evil spirits could cause all sorts of diseases, epidemics, and natural disasters. The taboo areas of the temple were closed off with Chang Seung. The pole figure shown here represents a protective deity. For this function it has been awarded the title of a general, which was carved in his body in Chinese characters. The exaggerated features of the Chang Seung, which are presented with his bulging eyes, pleated round snub nose, bared teeth, and a conical beard under the chin, are used to frighten off the demons. He wears an officer's hat called Tang Keon. Stylistically, this object shows the characteristics of folk crafts in Korea, which is characterized by the simple and humorous depiction of the figure. As an expression of religious ideas of the Korean people, the essential symbolism of Chang Seung is still present in contemporary Korean society, thus being exhibited in university buildings as “the great general of the national reunification”.

History of the Object
This object was acquired for the museum in 1929 by Walther Stötzner who travelled through Korea. According to his travelogue, it was standing on a rural road, from which the route was branching off to a monastery. The exact designation was not given.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
wood 
Measurements
Width 39 cm. Height 251 cm.  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
South Korea 
Geography
Korea 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
19th Century - 20th Century; prior to 1929 
Function
religious object 
Acquisition
Acquired from Walther Stötzner in 1930 
Copyright
Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen, Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden, Foto: Eva Winkler 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden 
Museum
Museum of Ethnography, Dresden 
Credit line
Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden, Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden 

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