In Japan they have a practice of creating exquisite gilded sculptures of fish to put about the rooftops of important palaces and castles. The fish symbolize the buildings as being ‘under water’ in an allegorical sense, thus protecting them from the fires which would often destroy them. I always thought this was a beautiful and poetic cultural practice.
Walking through Changgyeong Palace with Suhee recently, I noticed an absence of these details from the Korean palaces, so I naturally asked her if Korea didn’t use the same kind of symbolism as Japan. She shrugs, looking confused and tells me…
“In Korea, we just put big buckets of water outside.”
[edit 1/30/15: Sangjin notes that the buckets, called ‘Deu-moo,’ have their own lore and symbolism behind them. You can read more below in the comments section.]