Korean roof tile
Korea, 8th century AD
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The concept of using tiles decorated with monster masks to ward off evil spirits originated from China.
The tiles were placed in each of the four cardinal directions (north, east, south and west) on top of the roof of a building. They were used in royal buildings, those of the aristocracy, and also on Buddhist temples.
Some tiles were produced in the shape of a lion, a Buddhist guardian symbol. Buddhism had become the prevalent religion by the seventh century in Korea. Some scholars think that these tiles portray dragons, not monster masks.
Though this example is not glazed, some of these tiles were glazed with a green lead glaze.
Korea's location between China, Russia and Japan has played a crucial role not only in establishing Korea’s diverse cultural heritage, but also in the development of East Asian culture and art.