Korea Times
Exhibits Celebrating Man's Best Friends
Marking the Year of Dog in the Chinese zodiac, there are two exhibitions in Seoul that bring light to Koreans' concept of human's loyal friend.

“Our Old Friend, Dog,” organized by the National Folk Museum of Korea, displays a collection of ancient and modern artifacts on dogs. The exhibition focuses on the three main aspects of the an im al _ as the 11th of the Chinese zodiac's 12 an im al gods, an exorcist icon and human's closest livestock.

Regarding the first theme, visitors can see the formally attired an im al stand between rooster and swine icons. As the canine god is believed to represent the west-northwest direction and the two hours of the day between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., the icon is seen on the surface of sundials or plotting boards.

The dog as an exorcist icon often features on funeral items or talismans. Ancient people often drew a mystical watchdog with three eyes, which is believed to have divine power to chase out evil spirits. The exhibits also include artworks describing the everyday dogs.

If the exhibition shows Korea's ancient and collective attitudes to the canine, Suh Gong - im 's solo exhibition gives a personal and contemporary observation of the familiar species. The artist, renowned for adopting and revitalizing traditional folk painting styles, showcases some 40 paintings called “Kilsanghwa,” which has traditionally been designed to drive away bad luck and bring in fortune. The genre usually features auspicious an im als like tigers, dragons, chickens or dogs. Out of the exhibits, around 20 works are themed on the canine and the rest are on the other divine sorts.

“Through the traditional styles, I want to show the indigenous aspect of Korean dogs,” Suh told The Korea T im es.

kkt@koreat im es.co.kr

12-30-2005 16:56