Chineses Zodiac (12 animal system)

National Intangible Heritage Center

Whatever I began a large-scale work, I first had to look for the best cloth available and find an expert who could make a frame of an unprecedentedly large size. Entering into uncharted territory in this process, Which included elements seemingly unrelated to embroidery, resulted in a lot of trial and error and much difficulty. I am proud to say that I gave it my all during those year before acknowledgement came my way. My pride has kept me going and made hard work worth the effort. It is like clear-running water circulating inside me, purifying me whenever hardships hit. - choi, you hyun(2016 interview)

General Rat guards the north and is the embodiment of "Manwolbosal," a Buddhist god who fills the moon with clear water so that it will consistently shine. It is said that "Manwolbosal" came down to Earth in the form of a rat to capture a demon that was drinking all the water in the moon. General Rat is important because he gives light to the world even though doing so is like trying to fill a bottomless bucket with water.

General Cow is the embodiment of "Cheonsucheonanbosal," a Buddhist god with a thousand hands and eyes. "Cheonsucheonanbosal" is responsible for making human eyes and hands. However, since humans' hands and eyes made mistakes and caused chaos in the world, he came down to make things right. As General Cow is responsible for correcting the sins and chaos in the world, he is known for his honesty and diligence.

General Tiger is the embodiment of "Daeryunbosal," who made the wheel. The gods travel to govern their regions on the cart belonging to "Daeryunbosal." General Tiger also destroys all anxiety and fear in the world, and punishes sins. Despite his scary face, he is often described as a warm-hearted figure that looks after the weak.

General Rabbit is the embodiment of "Suwolbosal," who is responsible for creating the moon and filling it up with water so that it can shine and brighten the world. "Suwolbosal" came down to the world as a rabbit because he was worried that people might confuse the moon with its reflection in the water. He symbolizes strong willpower and endurance in overcoming hardships and adversity, because of his promise to prevent chaos by taking away all reflections of the moon on water

General Dragon is the embodiment of "Gwanseumbosal," the god of mercy who grants the wishes of every creature in the world. People sought out "Gwanseumbosal" when they needed to make an important wish. "Gwanseumbosal" is said to have descended into the world of suffering as a dragon, to grant the wishes of those who failed to make a wish as a result of their own mistakes

General Snake is the embodiment of "Gwanjajaebosal," a Buddhist god who brings wisdom, comfort, and direction to those lacking enlightenment. "Gwanjajaebosal" took the form of a snake and came down to Earth to experience humanity because the human mind was hard to understand. Although many people are scared of his appearance, General Snake is a hard-working scholar.

General Horse is the embodiment of "Yeouiryunbosal," who makes cintamani jewels. These jewels allow the gods to use their supernatural powers to rule the world, and can transform a beast into a dragon to ascend into heaven. Humans were once given cintamani, but they wasted their power on fortune. As a result, "Yeouiryunbosal" came down in the form of a horse to teach people how to use them wisely.

General Sheep is the embodiment of "Daesejibosal," who is like an undercover agent in the world of zodiac animal generals. As an undercover agent, "Daesejibosal" watches people from the stars and reports them to the Buddha Amitabha. But the job doesn't end there: "Daesejibosal" also punishes sins and encourages good deeds, and so is known to be strict but kind. Since people were having a hard time living the right way, "Daesejibosal" came down to take a closer look at their lives.

General Monkey is the embodiment of "Sibilmyeonbosal," a Buddhist saint with 11 faces. "Sibilmyeonbosal" has 11 different faces to be able to correspond flawlessly with the many gods that come to see the Buddha Amitabha. The sad face helps comfort the sad and the smiling one helps the happy to share their joy. "Sibilmyeonbosal" is a warm-hearted and amicable god. "Sibilmyeonbosal" came down to Earth and was able to truly understand and learn about the human heart by mimicking people's facial expressions using thousands of faces.

General Rooster is the embodiment of "Gundaribosal," a Buddhist god that suppresses the demons that cause trouble and maintains the goodness in the world. Defending human minds from demons was a particularly tricky business. The demons snuck in and invaded the world the moment "Gundaribosal" dozed off, causing chaos. To right the chaos caused by his carelessness, and defeat the demons, "Gundaribosal" came down in the form of a rooster. General Rooster has the courage and skill to protect goodness and eliminate injustice.

General Dog is the embodiment of "Jeongchwibosal," a god that encourages feasts and the giving of gifts to create a joyous atmosphere. He promotes harmony and friendship every time the gods in heaven gather for a meeting. As a result of his ability to create a feast, even in the human world, General Dog had a friendly relationship with humans until his last day on earth. This story has played out in the long history of the domestication of dogs, and the way in which humans treat them as part of the family today.

General Pig is the embodiment of the Buddha Amitabha. As the master of time and space—the original elements of the universe—the Buddha Amitabha is responsible for managing the gods. It is said that the Buddha Amitabha came down to the world in the form of a pig to determine how long humans should live, and how much space they would need to live in. The Buddha Amitabha gave life to humans and fairly gave each of them a place to live.

I have embroidered for decades but there was no me in it. I am only grateful that I was able to put my soul and heart into a thin thread and transfer it into artwork. Even when the color of Eight Illustrated Scenes in the Life of Buddha inevitably fade over the years, teachings by Buddha who elevated our mortal lives to eternity will never be lost. This sets me at ease and allows me to see eternity in ephemeral things. I hope my message harbored in each strand of thread unravels indefinitely until it reaches deep in your heart.
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가슴으로 품을 수와 공존하다 (2016) 자수문화연구소 중수원.

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국립무형유산원 아카이브

Ⓒ 국립무형유산원

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