The Great Renunciation, a painting on hemp cloth


British Museum

British Museum

Although Korea was a strict Confucian state during the Choson dynasty (1392-1910), by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Buddhism became less oppressed and more popular. Buddhist monks were recognized for their service in organizing successful campaigns against the Japanese invasions of 1592 and 1597. Many Buddhist temples were rebuilt in this period and Buddhist paintings and sculptures made to furnish them.The future Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama, sees the 'four sights': an old man, a sick man, a corpse and an ascetic, and reaches an understanding about the transience of life. He decided to abandon his comfortable world. Here he is shown here escaping from the palace on his white horse during the night. He is accompanied by his groom Chandaka. In the lower left his wife and other women of the palace are portrayed sleeping while at top right, heavenly deities are shown helping Siddhartha fly silently over the palace wall.

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  • Title: The Great Renunciation, a painting on hemp cloth
  • Date Created: 1700/1750
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 150.00cm; Width: 122.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: deity; buddha
  • Registration number: 1996,1003,0.2
  • Production place: Made in Korea
  • Period/culture: Joseon Dynasty
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Kang, K J