A rare Korean gesso and painted wood figure of a seated monk
Chosen Dynasty, probably 18th Century


27 inches high


Wearing a red and green robe tied with a blue sash to one side of his chest, his left hand clenched and resting on his left knee, the right clutching a bell, the face with a benign but affable expression, the figure seated cross-legged on a red rockwork base, the center of the back with a rectangular consecration opening leading to an interior conical cavity.


For a seated gesso and painted wood figure of a Boddhisatva of slightly smaller size but very similar type and dated to the eighteenth century, see Robert Moes, Auspicious Spirits, Korean Folk Paintings and Related Objects, International Exhibitions Foundation, Washington DC, 1983, col. pl. 67.

A larger painted wood figure of a seated Arhat (Nahan) probably Bhadra (Palt'are) with a tiger, formerly in the Robert W. Moore Collection is presently exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, accession no. ?


See Robert Moes, op. cit., p.13 where the author notes:


"In most countries folk art has remained a relatively minor tradition. Korea, however, provides a notable exception to this generalization. During the Chosen Dynasty (1392-1910), folk art was a major current of Korean Art. Art terms we are accustomed to using in a somewhat perjorative way, such as "folk art" and "provincial" take on a positive connotation when applied to Chosen Dynasty art in contrast to the art of Korea's huge and influential neighbor, China. The qualities that make Chosen art so aesthetically satisfying and unique are to be found in its folk art rather than its court or scholarly art.