Mountain Spirit (Sanshin)
Ink and color on silk
Image: 34 x 24 1/2 in. (86.4 x 62.2 cm)
Overall: 43 1/4 x 34 1/2 in. (109.9 x 87.6 cm) (show scale)
This item is not on view
Designated Purchase Fund
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Mountain Spirit (Sanshin), 19th century. Ink and color on silk, Image: 34 x 24 1/2 in. (86.4 x 62.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 84.145 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.145.jpg)
overall, 84.145.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Image of an elderly sage seated on a tiger in a mountain setting (represented by stylized rock forms). The figure is attended by two young servants.
Koreans have worshipped mountains as supernatural spirits since ancient times. Initially, the mountain itself was represented as a divine image; this identity was later transferred to the image of a tiger, a powerfully symbolic animal and inhabitant of the high terrain of Korea. Eventually, the deity of the mountains was symbolized as an old man accompanied by a tiger. This figure was known in the Shamanist pantheon as the Mountain Spirit, or Sanshin.
As a Shamanist deity, the Mountain Spirit embodied abundance and fertility. When integrated into Buddhism, he became the patron spirit who would deliver babies and protect them from misfortune. Most Korean Buddhist temples have a separate shrine containing images dedicated to the local Mountain Spirit.
In this image, the Mountain Spirit is mounted on a tiger in a three-quarter view and wears a red Chinese official robe. Two nymphs stand in the background. They are depicted in a slightly smaller scale to emphasize the prominence of the deity at the center, a common pictorial practice in Korean folk painting to express hierarchy. This painting is executed in bright reds, yellows, greens, and blues, and with little modeling and use of perspective- attributes typical of folk paintings depicting this subject matter.
From "Journey Through Asia" catalogue, 2003.
Buddhist paintings called Sansindo ("Painting of Mountain God") portray a personified tiger that the common people worshipped as a mountain god. Sansindo were enshrined in Sansingak (Halls of Mountain God), Sanwanggak (Halls of Mountain King), or Sanseonggak (Halls of Three Holy Beings). Most of the extant paintings depicting the mountain god made as objects of worship were made in the nineteenth century, when the overlap of Buddhism and folk religion reached its peak.
In this particular painting, the mountain god appears as an old man with a long white beard, seating on a tiger, which is crouched under a pine tree against a backdrop of deep valleys and oddly-shaped rocks. Beyond the crest of the hill where the mountain king is seated peonies blossom and young attendants offer food. The god is wearing an official's vermillion robe and a black cloth headdress. He has a somewhat stern look, and holds a banana leaf fan in his left hand and a vase with the "herb of immortality" in his right.
Certain features, such as the god's small mouth, rocks depicted in a highly conventionalized style, transparent clouds flowing between pine branches, and rigid brush strokes reveal that this is a work painted in the nineteenth century.
From "Korean Art Collection in the Brooklyn Museum" catalogue.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.