Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bulguksa Temple

Name : Bulguksa

Location :

The temple is located on the slopes of Tohamsan, in Jinheon-dong, Gyeongju, Korea

History :

The temple's records state that a small temple was built on this site under King Beopheung in 528. The Samguk Yusa records that the current temple was constructed under King Gyeongdeok in 751, begun by Prime Minister Kim Daeseong to pacify the spirits of his parents. The building was completed in 774 by the Silla royal court, after Gim's death, and given its current name Bulguksa (Temple of the Buddha Land).

After this the temple was destroyed in Imjin wars and renovated during Goryeo dynasty. Since then the temple had undergone numerous renovations till 1973 bringing Bulguksa to its current form.

Architecture :

The entrance to the temple, Sokgyemun, has a double-sectioned staircase and bridge (National Treasure No. 23) that leads to the inside of the temple compound. The stairway is 33 steps high, corresponding to the 33 steps to enlightenment.

There are two pagodas on the temple site, which is unusual. The three-story Seokgatap (Sakyamuni Pagoda) which stands at 8.2 meters is a traditional Korean-style stone pagoda with simple lines and minimal detailing.
Seokgatap pagoda

Seokgatap is over 13 centuries old. Dabotap (Many Treasure Pagoda) is 10.4 meters tall and dedicated to the Many treasures Buddha mentioned in the Lotus Sutra. In contrast to Seokgatap, Dabotap is known for its highly ornate structure. Its image is reproduced on the South Korean 10 won coin. Dabotap and Seokgatap are Korean National Treasures nos. 20 and 21, respectively.

Dabotap Pagoda
Other National treasures on the temple include

Treasure No.22 : It includes The Yeonhwagyo (Lotus Flower Bridge), Chilbogyo (Seven Treasures Bridge), Anyangmun (Peace Enhancing Gate) and Geuknakjeon (the Hall of the Pure Land)

Treasure No.23 : It includes The Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) and Baegungyo (White Cloud Bridge). The Blue Cloud Bridge makes up the lower span of the stair while the White Cloud Bridge is the upper part. The bridges lead to the Jahamun (Golden Purple Gate) which leads to Sakyamuni Hall. There are 33 steps on the stairway, which slopes at a 45 degree angle, and each step corresponds to one of the 33 heavens of Buddhism. The lower Blue Cloud Bridge has seventeen steps while the upper White Cloud Bridge has sixteen.
The Blue Cloud and White Cloud Bridges are in the foreground while the Lotus Flower and Seven Treasures Bridges are in the background.

Treasure No.26 : Bulguksa geumdong birojana buljwasang (Gilt-bronze Vairocana Buddha of enlightenment Statue). The robes of the Buddha are highly detailed and the simulation of folded cloth rippling down from the shoulder to the lap is done with high skill. The hands of the Buddha are in a position, the right index finger covered by the left hand, which often is used to symbolize the Buddha of Enlightenment.

Treasure No.27 : Bulguksa geumdong amita yeoraejwasang (The seated gilt-bronze Amitabha Buddha statue)

Treasure No.61 : This sarira pagoda, or stupa, looks like a stone lantern. ( A sarira is a container for the relics or remains of famous priests or royalty. It is said that this sarira contained the remains of eight priests or a queen)

Sarira Pagoda

Description :

Bulguksa is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism in the North Gyeongsang province in South Korea.

It is home to seven National treasures of South Korea, including Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas, Cheongun-gyo (Blue Cloud Bridge), and two gilt-bronze statues of Buddha. The temple is classified as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government.In 1995, Bulguksa was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the Seokguram Grotto, which lies four kilometers to the east.

The temple is considered as a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art in the Silla kingdom. It is currently the head temple of the 11th district of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.

Among the earliest woodblock prints in world, a version of the Dharani sutra dated between AD 704 and 751 was found there in 1966. Its Buddhist text was printed on a 8-×-630 cm (3.1-×-250 in) mulberry paper scroll.

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