The Gyeongju National Museum houses a collection of art and artifacts
spanning the 1000-year history of the Korean peninsula’s Silla period.
The displays are so busy with myriad pieces vying for attention,
it’s easy to pass many by, but a small fragment manages to catch my eye.
The three-inch, semi-round face is the color of its raw clay high-fired.
The figure’s expression is humorous and mysterious at the same time.
The card says it’s the piece of a roof tile end-cap, and I can imagine
an entire house ringed round with this little person’s enigmatic gaze.
It says this face was meant to repel evil spirits from the home.
I can see this clearly, picture a solid line of these wrapping
in a 360-degree perimeter of tiny Mona Lisa medallions,
blazing their collective gaze at all things dark and dangerous,
a barrage of bullet-stares mowing down all things menacing.
In the gift shop I find a replica of this protective figure and buy
just one to bring back for a little protection of my home.