Temple wall painting is to express the Land of Buddha, in which Buddhist ideas or themes are reflected, on temple walls provided their structure and properties considered. Temples usually have paintings of different sizes on their walls. Temple wall paintings made in the late Joseon period include a variety of expressions related to Buddhist doctrines, Buddha and other subjects. This study pays special attention to <Seoyugido> painted in Yonghwajeon of the Tongdosa Temple. Unlike other buildings of that temple, Yonghwajeon has 2 layers of gongpo inside, This provides a large wall space between the two layers, allowing lots of paintings to be made on that space. Inside Yonghwajeon, actually, the east and west sides have 7 pieces of <Seoyugido>, each has its own theme, painted on them.
Considering the fact that illustrations shown in <Seoyugido> are set based on a Chinese classic novel, 『Seoyugi』, this study tried to clarify the origin of that painting by comparing and reviewing different versions of that novel which were published in the Ming and Ching periods, especially focusing on a version with 100 illustrations that was made by Oh Seung-eun(1500～1582) in the Ming period. Some researchers claimed that <Sedeokdangbon> is the very origin of <Seoyugido>. But the two paintings are quite different in terms of icon and composition. Therefore, this study examined the composition and expression of backgrounds and the diversity and placement of characters that are can be seen in <Seoyugido> of Yonghwajeon, and provided a new suggestion that <Seoyugido> originated from a version of the Ming period, that is, <Lee Tak-oh’s Criticism of Seoyugi>.
And this study tried to determine and understand how illustrations found in novels influenced paintings of the late Joseon period including general paintings, folk paintings, engravings and Temple wall paintings like <Seoyugido>.
As they were introduced in earnest around the Joseon-Japan War, that is, Imjinwaeran, Chinese novels influenced Joseon of that time. Under this circumstance, similarities are found between illustrations of the Chinese novels and paintings of the late Joseon period in terms of composition, character expression and the location and depiction of building structures. This is supported by lots of engravings, general paintings including life drawings, folk paintings whose theme was based on novel 『Samguk Jiyeoneui』, the illustrations of hunting images and other Temple wall paintings, all of which were made at that time. Presumedly, those illustration had great effects on perceptions about painting that official and amateur painters and even general people had at that time. This fact is indirectly supported by <Imitative Paintings of the Illustrations of Chinese Stories>.
The classic novel, 『Seoyugi』 consists of 100 parts or, specifically, the appearance of Sonokong and his meeting with Hyeonjang from part 1 to part 7, reasons why Hyeonjang leaves for the teachings of Buddha from part 8 to part 12 and 81 kinds of difficulties that Hyeonjang and his companies experience whiling going to obtain Buddhist scriptures from part 13 to part 100. Among these 100 parts, <Seoyugido> painted in Yonghwajeon has illustrations of parts 11 and 12 in the center and those of parts 81, 84, 87 and 94 in the other space. These illustrations imply how to reach the very principle of Buddhism through asceticism, aiming to enlighten the public. This cause is most remarkably reflected by a section of the Yonghwajeon wall painting, that is, ‘Hyeonjang Byeong Seonggeon Daehoido’ which illustrates Suryukjae. It also complies with the characteristics of Yonghwajeon itself. Yonghwajeon is a place to worship Maitreya who relieves people with whom he has relations after reaching emancipation under Yonghwasu. This strongly suggests that <Seoyugido> was painted with the ultimate purpose of enlightening the public.
Finally, this study compared stylistic features of ‘Hyeonjang Byeong Seonggyeon Daihoido’, which illustrates the images of Syrukjae, a Buddhist ritual depicted in <Seoyugido>, with those of <Gamrodo> painted in the late Joseon period, and presumedly found that <Seoyugido> was painted between 1730 and 1790. By reviewing ancient records, 「Daegwangmyeonjeon Samseonggong Pilhu」 and 「Yangsan Tongdosa Munsujeon Jungchanggi」, this study presumed that when Yonghwajeon was burnt down when Daegwangmyeonjeon and Munsujeon were done so because the former was located between the latter two and that Yonghwajeon was reconstructed together with the other two buildings. Thus, this study concluded that <Seoyugido> of Yonghwajeon was painted in 1758 when the reconstruction was made, not in 1798 when <Yonghwajeon Mireukhubulhwa> was painted.