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4. Sapsarees Through the Murals of Koryo Dynastys

The remaining Go-bun, or murals of Koryo Dynasty, allows us to guess what the lifestyle and mindset of the people of Koryo Dynasty could have been like at that period. Diverse pictures ranging from genre paintings to paintings containing symbolic figures of Taoism that dominated the culture and society, as well as Buddhist pictures of metamorphosis can be found.

Based on the frequent appearance of dogs in murals, it is plausible that dogs were a close companion to the Koryo people. In the painting An-ak 3rd ancient tomb, which is also known as Dongsoo-myo, two dogs can be seen walking up and down near a kitchen with trough-shaped roof tile. In Go-bun's legend painting located in Deokheung-ri, two astrological love-stars, Gyunwoo and Jing-nyuh, can be seen standing facing each other with the galaxy drawn in the middle. The boldly drawn semi-abstract picture depicts Gyunwoo leading a cow with a rein in his hands and Jing-nyuh with a dog next to her side. Two main types of dogs can be seen in the picture. The first type has standing ears and a sharp muzzle, like those of a Jindo Dog. The second type is large, has drooping ears and long hair that resembles those of a Sapsaree.

In the southern foothills of Yeosan, there is a painting of a bulky yellow dog that resembles a Jindo dog on the Gakjeo-chong painting, which is located right next to the Mooyong-chong painting. This picture, which is found on the wall of the passage between the front room and burial room, is so delicately drawn that even the hairs are very accurately drawn. A black collar can be seen around the neck of a large yellow dog that is furiously barking with eyes that appear to be so alive. The picture is believed to have been drawn to block demons instead of placing a strong man for the task.

Two Sapsarees can be seen in the buddhist painting, which is drawn at the top of the burial-room entrance of Jang-cheon tomb. In the Go-bun mural, which contains heavy usage of buddhist colors, there is a portrayal of Bodhisattva, softening metamorphosis with a buddha who resembles Dangun (legendary founding father of Gojoseon). Below the buddha, there are two dogs with their back leaning on the platform and facing the opposite direction. The long-haired tail, which is split into two directions, and well-developed upper-body stand out in the picture. These pictures closely resemble those that were drawn during the Chosun Dynasty.

The two main dog breeds that appear in the Koryo murals, and the location and role in which they appear and take partly depict the consciousness that our ancestors had towards dogs during the Koryo Dynasty.

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