Gold Crown

National Treasure #191
Silla Kingdom, 5th-6th century AD
Gyeongju, Korea

This crown was excavated from the Tomb of Hwangnam Daechong in Gyeongju. It features three tree-shaped uprights on the front and sides, two antler-shaped uprights on the back, and is decorated with comma-shaped gogok and gold pendants.

The crown's tree and antler uprights recall the northern steppe with its abundant trees and reindeer. More abstractly, the tree uprights may symbolize a "world tree" that reaches from earth to heaven. These crowns originate from Siberian shaman headwear, and it is thought that Silla rulers of this period were themselves shaman-kings and shaman-queens.

The wealth of Silla was famous in ancient times; Kumsong (ancient Gyeongju) was known as the "City of Gold," while Arab traders called Silla as a whole "the mountainous land rich in gold."

For additional information, see:

  • Golden Treasures: The Royal Tombs of Silla. Metropolitan Museum of art.
  • Korean Shamanism (Wikipedia)
  • National Treasures of South Korea, and Crowns of Silla (Wikipedia)
  • Silla Korea and the Silk Road (Korea Society)