Stripped and Spotted Tiger with Pine and Magpie

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Size: 10.5″ x 7.5″

Korean Folk Art Paintings depicted the simple daily lives of ordinary people often portraying the religion and mythology of the culture.  The tiger was considered to be a spiritual being and protector that could drive out evil spirits. They could prevent natural disasters such as floods, fires, and wind storms.  They could also protect against famine, disease, and war. They were most often painted in the entry ways of homes. Most of the images in our collection are a representation of a particular folklore that seems to have been popular in that century.

The story tells of a good and kind woodsman who comes across a tiger in a thick mud puddle, the tiger begs the woodsman to aid him and promises not to eat him. Once free the tiger attempts to eat the woodsman. The woodsman begs for aid from a nearby oxen and pine tree, both of which say the tiger should eat the human since humans eat oxen and cut down trees.  At that time a magpie flies over head and the woodsman explains his situation and asks for the opinion of the magpie.  The magpie lands and asks the tiger if to go back into to the mud while he collects evidence for a fair judgment to see if the human is worth eating or not. The tiger obliges and becomes stuck again and thus the woodsman’s life is saved by the wise magpie who punished the ungrateful tiger.  This is why pictures of tigers are often shown with a magpie in the scene.

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