The ancient kingdom of Goguryeo reigned over an extensive territory backed by its strong economic and military prowess. This is manifested by the multiplicity of horsemen portrayed in the tomb murals dated to the era. Goguryeo's horse trappings have aspects that reveal the form and trait s of the metal artifacts in general of the time, and constitute the origin and essence of Korean horse trappings. Goguryeo' s saddle bridges, harness fittings and horse strap pendants show the kind of designs and manufacturing techniques that are commonly found in the kingdom's metal accessories, and seem to have influenced the manufacturing of horse trappings in neighboring kingdoms such as Baekje, Silla and Gaya. This study relies on the analysis of Goguryeo horse trappings including those depicted in tomb murals in order to identify the characteristics and style of Goguryeo's metal artifacts. The Goguryeo style was well- preserved by neighboring countries until the 4th century, but over time it became localized and gained distinctive regional characteristics. The end pieces of horse bits still retained the authentic heart- shaped leaf designs and elliptical patterns in such regions. Other features of Goguryeo style also remained intact -- the frames of saddle bridges were carved out of wood and then assembled later the front and rear covers of saddle bridges were lined with metal straps the harness fittings had a central pole with spangle ornaments on top of a semi- spherical base; and the heart- shaped leaf designs were used for horse strap pendants. Deviating from typical the horse strap pendants of Goguryeo, however, those in southern parts of the peninsula became wider and shorter in shape. In the ancient territory of Silla, Baekje and Gaya, pendants resembling a fish tail or a dagger tip have been excavated. Such modified forms have not been found among Goguryeo relics but are certainly depicted in Goguryeo tomb murals. The horse
chest strap pendants found in Taewangneung tomb have three layers of copper sheets - - the plain base and two openwork upper layers featuring the toenails of a tiger and long feathers fluttering in the wind, which exhibit the power and vitality of the Goguryeo people. The excellent gilding skills, metal workmanship and aesthetic sophistication manifested in the pendants clearly illustr ate that the people of Goguryeo attained a culture that embodies the essence of the Korean culture.