Look on my works, ye mighty
Korean temples share similar colour schemes and architecture. It turns out that there are reasons for this that have nothing to do with the influence of a billionaire, corporate, Martha Stewart-esque, Korean magnate, as I had first imagined when I saw the pretty colours. This temple is typical of the Joseon dynasty (c. 1300), a kind of Neo-Confucianist style that favours practicality, frugality, and harmony with nature. Often, the buildings are memorial halls erected by extended families in memory of a distant ancestor or to commemorate some exceptional act of filial piety. The shape of the roof is said to emulate a dragon's spine and is found on all buildings except those which housed emperors, who are said to embody the spirit of a dragon. There is room for only one dragon per household. The little gargoyle-like creatures are mythological guardian spirits. The emperor's buildings have nine (nine being the maximum amount of protection one could hope for in the Joseon age) and lesser buildings have fewer spirits to watch out for them. Basically, there was a lot of the Ozymandian attitude floating around in 14th century Korea.