Dragon-Faced Roof Tile

Unified Silla, 8th century A.D.
Gyeongju Museum, Korea

This ceramic tile once covered the end of a roof beam; the reason for the semicircular hole in the bottom of the tile is to allow a second, lower beam to project further out. Its dragon face is apotropaic; since the dragon is a water animal, it was supposed to be able to protect buildings from fire. Additional information: A History of the World in 100 Objects (British Museum / BBC).

Note: the tile discussed in the BBC program is housed in the British Museum but is very similar to the Gyeongju tile illustrated here.