Thursday, September 11, 2008


In and Korean mythology, the haetae is a legendary creature which resembles a lion but is, in fact, a fire-eating dog. It is believed as a guardian against disaster and prejudice. Furthermore, they are said to guard against all forms of disruptive or violent change. It has the body of a lion, and occasionally is depicted with a unicorn-like horn.

According to Stephen Roney ACA, in an article for the Korea Herald, “All follows from the haetae's vocation to root out violent change. The large nose sniffs for hidden iniquity or distant smoke. The big, luminous eyes stare alert into the middle distance, concerned not with what is but with what will be. The cavernous mouth with overshot lower jaw fastens like a bulldog on the past, not letting it go. The well-bred haetae is a thoughtful, even intuitive creature. Enemy of change, it is no fan of newborn things; it will eat a child who gets too close. It can challenge time itself, bite the sun or moon, and create an eclipse.” The haetae is also to be a symbol of water, due to their fire-eating qualities, and a symbol of justice.

Haetae sculpt in architecture was widely used in China and other Asian countries. In old Chinese dynasties, emperors always preferred to utilize this sacred animal to denote their justice. In other Asian countries, this sacred animal sculpt may have different meanings. For example, In Korean, the haetae sculpture was used in architecture earliest in Joseon Dynasty which was trusted to be able to protect Hanyang.

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