Art/ Collection/ Art Object

범천왕을 중심으로 한 신중도 조선
神衆圖 朝鮮
Brahma with attendants and musicians

Artist:
Unidentified Artist
Period:
Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
Date:
late 16th century
Culture:
Korea
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on hemp
Dimensions:
Image: 85 × 87 in. (215.9 × 221 cm) Overall with mounting: 132 × 97 in. (335.3 × 246.4 cm) Overall with knobs: 132 × 101 3/4 in. (335.3 × 258.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1921
Accession Number:
21.57
Not on view
Originally a Hindu deity, Brahma (Korean: Beomcheon) was incorporated into the Buddhist pantheon and, along with the Hindu god Indra (Korean: Jeseok), became the protector of Buddhist teachings. The Brahma heaven was interpreted as a place of pleasure filled with entertainers and musicians. In this work, lithe figures playing instruments, such as a mouth organ, a long transverse flute, a two-stringed violin, a four-stringed lute with a crooked neck, wood clappers, and a triangular wind instrument made of clay, surround the towering Brahma at center. Ceremonial fans and bejeweled canopies held by assistants in the top row float above the festive scene.

Buddhist paintings on hemp were commissioned by non-royals, while members of the elite favored silk. Regardless of material, Buddhist paintings from the early Joseon period are rare because of the official suppression of Buddhism and promotion of neo-Confucian ideology.

When Mrs. Harkness gave this work to the Met in 1921, it was thought to be either Chinese or Korean. Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Harkness also collected and donated European decorative art and Egyptian art.
Related Objects

Scholars of the Liuli Hall

Date: late 13th century Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on silk Accession: 1977.49 On view in:Not on view

Ink Making

Date: early 19th century Medium: Gouache on paper Accession: 1994.409 On view in:Not on view

Palace banquet

Medium: Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk Accession: 2010.473 On view in:Not on view

Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute: The Story of Lady Wenji

Date: early 15th century Medium: Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on silk Accession: 1973.120.3 On view in:Not on view

Welcoming Spring

Date: 15th century Medium: Silk embroidery on silk gauze Accession: 1981.410 On view in:Not on view