Twelve Zodiacal Animals

Korean Zodiacal Animal Screens, early 20th century, stone rubbings , ink on paper, twelve rubbings mounted on a pair of screens; anonymous loan

July 11, 2009 - May 30, 2010

According to Chinese astrology and lunar calendar, the year 2009 is the year of the Ox, and 2010 the year of the Tiger. Stone rubbings representing the twelve zodiacal animals, mounted on a pair of screens, are on view at the Worcester Art Museum. The rubbings were made from the twelve large stone reliefs that surround the tomb of the Korean general Kim Yusin (595-673 A.D.), situated near Gyeongju, in southeastern Korea. Listed in order, the animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

An accomplished swordsman and field commander of the Kingdom of Silla, Kim Yusin devoted his life to the unification of the Three Kingdoms of the Korean peninsula. He was amply rewarded during his lifetime for his victorious feats and upon his death a tomb was built in his honor that rivaled that of kings. Encircling the outside of the tomb, the twelve zodiacal animal reliefs are positioned in accordance with the points of the compass that the animals traditionally guard. As protectors of Kim Yusin's soul, the animals are depicted with human bodies and garments, and bearing weapons.

Ox and Tiger, early 20th century, stone rubbings, ink on paper, two of twelve rubbings mounted on a pair of screens; anonymous loan