Dolhareubang, or stone grandfather, is a stone deity erected outside the gates of fortresses on Jeju Island during the Joseon dynasty.
In Joseon, Jeju Island was divided into three counties – Jejumok, Jeongeuihyeon and Daejeonghyeon–and in the capital of each county was a fortress, outside of which dolhareubang were erected. It is difficult to determine the date of the first stone deity, but the official Jeju provincial record Tamnaji notes that a stone grandfather was erected by Jejumok magistrate Kim Yeong-gyu in the 30th year of King Yeongjo’s reign in Joseon (1754). Dolhareubang is a children’s term that later came into wide use. Records refer to the statue by the term ongjungseok, which originated from the legendary Chinese commander and tomb guardian Weng Zhong, while villagers used the term useongmok, meaning stone general guardian, its function similar to that of wooden pillars (jeongjumok) that function as a gate in traditional Jeju houses for keeping out outsiders, and in religious terms, evil spirits from the outside world. In the same vein, these stone deities served as guardians of the fortress.
It is notable that dolhareubang were erected in stone by the magistrate of Jeju outside the fortress of the county capital, while the village guardian post jangseung of the mainland, similar in function, were carved from tree trunks by villagers and erected at the entrance of the village. This could be interpreted as a result of the government’s embrace of the shamanic faith of the people of Jeju.