b) The Mountain God (Sanshin, in Korean)
Every Korean temple has a place for Sanshin, the Mountain God, whether it
be a paint-ing and small altar set up in one of the larger halls, or, as is
most often the case, a small separate building off in one corner of the
compound. Sanshin is not depicted in statue form, but instead is always
As belief in mountain spirits preceded Buddhism's entry into Korea, Sanshin
is not of Buddhist origin but was absorbed into Buddhism. Little by little
it came to be suggested that Sanshin had been a Bodhisattva all along.
Sanshin is particularly popular among women hoping for sons. However,
visitors to most temples pay their respects to Sanshin.
The paintings of the Mountain God all follow the same basic pattern.
Pictured is an old man seated with, or sometimes on, a tiger. Because
tigers were a constant threat in mountainous areas, their ferocity came to
be associated with powerful spirits. The Mountain God is not exclu-sively
the old man or the tiger, rather he is both. Perhaps the tiger's presence
also suggests the close relationship in geomancy between moun-tains and
Commonly the old man and tiger are pic-tured in a deep valley with a stone
cliff on the right.