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Third King of the Underworld (Songjae)

Artist/maker unknown, Korean

Geography:
Made in Korea, Asia

Period:
Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910)

Date:
18th century

Medium:
Ink and color on silk

Dimensions:
60 × 43 1/4 inches (152.4 × 109.9 cm) Mount: 6 feet 3 9/16 inches × 50 1/4 inches (191.9 × 127.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1970-259-3

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. W. James Anderson, Mrs. Samuel Bell, Jr., Mrs. Richard Drayton, and Charles T. Ludington, Jr., in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Townsend Ludington, 1970

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Label:
Songjae, the third of the Ten Kings of the Underworld, sits in judgment of the deceased on the twenty-first day after death, writing his decision onto the scroll held by his assistant. Below are scenes of some of the punishments that have been meted out. The names of the donors and priests of the temple for which this work was made appear in the rectangular cartouche at the bottom. Such paintings on silk were usually displayed in Korean temple complexes in the building known as Myeongbu-jeon (Hall of the Underworld Court).

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    The awe-inspiring figure at the center of this painting is Songje, one of the ten Buddhist Kings of Hell, who sits in judgment of the deceased, writing his decision on the scroll held by his assistant. At the bottom, below a line of clouds, are scenes of punishments that have been meted out: one man is imprisoned in a stockade, another is about to be impaled by a halberd-bearing demon, while two figures at the right seem to be trapped in a pit of nails. The vivid liveliness of this portion of the image stands in contrast to the stately dignity of the King of Hell, surrounded by his attendants. Such paintings on silk were usually made in sets of ten, one for each of the kings, and were often displayed in the building in Korean temple complexes known as the Hall of the Underworld Courts. The names of the donors and priests of the temple for which this work was made appear in the rectangular cartouche at the bottom. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 37.

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