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Renovation of King Wang Kon Tomb reveals new evidence

Pyongyang, January 14 (KCNA) — Renovation has recently been carried out at the Tomb of King Wang Kon, founder of Koryo which existed from 918 to 1392. The Tomb is located at the foot of Mt. Songak, Kaesong City.

A monument to renovation stands in the foreground of the Tomb. The front of the monument is inscribed with President Kim Il Sung’s autograph “Monument to the Renovation of the Tomb of King Wang Kon, Founder of Koryo” in golden letters.
Around the Tomb, there are balustrades, a stone table, stone tigers, stone posts and stone lanterns= four statues of civilian officials stand to the east of the foreground and another four figures of military officers to the west.
A service hall was newly built, with four Kan in the front and one Kan each side, a typical building in the time of Koryo. In the hall there are a portrait of king Wang Kon and nine paintings showing his activities.
The Tomb consists of a corridor and a burial chamber with the bier in the middle.
The magnificent reconstruction of the tomb enables the Korean nation to show its time-honoured history and cultural traditions more clearly.
While renovating the tomb, a gilt-bronze sedentary figure and other relics were unearthed five metres north of the Tomb. It was confirmed that it was the image of King Wang Kon.
The image is 1.51 metres in height and 80 kg in weight.
It was discovered 1.5 to 2 metres under the ground, covered over by a 150 cm x 150 cm granite slab. At the moment of discovery, thin silk cloth and gilt-bronze pieces were stuck to the body and the head and some other parts have traces of gold plating.
The image looks like a Buddhist image, but it is not a Buddha, because it is of a naked man with the hands in courteous posture and a crown on the head. The fact that the image was buried five metres north of the centre of the burial chamber which lies from south to north in the Tomb, proves that the burying of the image is no coincidental but purposeful. The figure is closely related with the burial chamber of the Tomb, that is, King Wang Kon himself.
It has been proved that the head-dress of the sedentary image is a royal crown. It is made up of outer and inner pieces= the former has a certain width of belt at the bottom, a relieved hill on the central front and a cloud on each side of it. The inner parts had a methodical array of eight round ornaments, six of which still remain, some showing the sun and moon. Since the sun, moon, hill, water and the likes are ornaments symbolizing the emperor or King at his time, the recently unearthed crown is no doubt a royal crown. Together with the sedentary figure, 12 beaded belts were also discovered. The belt ornaments are mostly whitegray, square or curved on the upper part. In quality, colour and shape these are the same as the two beaded belt ornaments which were found in the burial chamber of the Tomb. In the old feudal community, the waist belt ornaments were strictly classified according to ranks. From this point of view, the fact that the belt ornaments unearthed together with the image are the same as those from the burial chamber means that the image depicts King Wang Kon.
Moreover, the history book of Koryo describes that King Wang Kon had a broad face similar to the face of the gilt-bronze image.
All these details consummate the proof that the image is the very figure of King Wang Kon.
Wang Kon’s statue is the oldest image cut after a true historical figure in Korea. In the Koryo period and before that there were metal Buddhist images but none was made after a real figure, especially a king. The reason for the Buddhist shape of the image is supposed: as Buddhism was prevalent at the time, sculpture was under strong Buddhist influence as in other areas of public life. In particular, as the founder of the first unified state, King Wang Kon was worshipped and sanctified. Such a reverence of the Koryo people is reflected in the sedentary figure of King Wang Kon.
The confirmation of the statue of King Wang Kon is of great value in studying the history and culture of Koryo.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/taver/15119323499/

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