• Artwork

    Datjib – The Canopy: 닺집

    Introduction Inside almost all Korean Buddhist temple shrine halls, and standing above the main altar, is a canopy. While this canopy is brilliantly adorned and beautiful, the meaning behind it is less clear. So why are there canopies above the main altar? And why do they have somewhat differing designs? The Canopy The Korean Buddhist canopy that stands above the main altar inside a temple shrine hall is known as a “datjib – 닺집” in Korean. “Dat” means “separate” in English, while “jib” means “house” in English. So the canopy literally means “Separate House.” Another name for this canopy is “Celestial Canopy” in English, which is in reference to the…

  • Ulsan

    Jeongtosa Temple – 정토사 (Nam-gu, Ulsan)

    Temple History Jeongtosa Temple is located in Nam-gu in the southern part of Ulsan past the Taehwa River. And it’s situated just to the east of the diminutive Mt. Samhosan (125.7 m). Jeongtosa Temple is named after “Jeongto,” which is the Korean word for “Pure Land” in English. Jeongto is a pure heavenly realm that’s occupied by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have shed all of their afflictions. This is the ultimate goal of the popular Jeongto form of Korean Buddhism, which is known as the “Pure Land School” in English. Specifically, Jeongto is referring to a heaven in the Western Paradise inhabited by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).…

  • Artwork

    Ggotbi – Rain of Flowers: 꽃비

    Introduction Whenever you enter a Korean Buddhist temple shrine hall, one of the very first things you’ll notice are the floral paintings adorning the ceiling of the structure. These floral patterns are known as “Ggotbi – 꽃비” in Korean, or “Rain of Flowers” in English. You might also see paper lanterns designed as pink or purple lotus flowers suspended from the ceiling, as well. So why exactly are these flowers painted or hanging from the ceiling? And what do they symbolize? History of Flower Ceilings The Introduction of the Lotus Sutra describes the sermon given by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) on Vulture Peak. As Seokgamoni-bul completed his sermon entitled “Immeasurable…

  • Ulsan

    Seoknamsa Temple – 석남사 (Ulju-gun, Ulsan)

    Temple History Seoknamsa Temple, which is pronounced Seongnamsa, means “South Rock Temple” in English. The name of the temple is in reference to its southern location on Mt. Gajisan (1,240 m). Seoknamsa Temple was first established in 824 A.D. by the highly influential monk Doui-guksa (?-825 A.D.). It was built to pray for the nation. The temple continued to be enlarged until it was eventually destroyed in 1592 during the Imjin War (1592-1598). During the Imjin War, the temple was used as a centre for the training of the Righteous Army to help defend the area from the invading Japanese. Eventually, and in 1674, Seoknamsa Temple was rebuilt. And through…

  • Artwork,  Korean Temple Artwork

    Agwi – Hungry Ghosts: 아귀

    This post contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! Introduction If you’ve ever looked close enough, especially around the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, perhaps you were lucky enough to see the image of an “Agwi – 아귀,” or “Hungry Ghost/Spirit” in English. Or more likely, you’ve probably seen this demon-like creature, but you weren’t sure what it was. So what exactly is an Agwi? Where can you find them? And what are they supposed to represent? Physical Description of an Agwi…

  • Ulsan

    Baekyangsa Temple – 백양사 (Jung-gu, Ulsan)

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support!  Temple History Baekyangsa Temple at the foot of Mt. Hamwolsan (200.6 m) in Jung-gu, Ulsan, which shouldn’t be confused with the one in Jeollanam-do, was first founded in 932 A.D. by the monk Baekyang-seonsa. In fact, the temple is named after this founding monk. The temple was destroyed by fire during the Imjin War (1592-1598). However, Baekyangsa Temple was later rebuilt in 1678 by the monk Yeonbu-seonsa. Baekyangsa Temple would…

  • Artwork

    Punggyeong – Fish-Shaped Wind Chimes: 풍경

    This post contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! Introduction One of the most beautiful decorative items that you’ll find adorning a Korean Buddhist temple or hermitage are the melodious wind chimes that hang from the eaves of a shrine hall. And while these Fish-Shaped Wind Chimes, or “Punggyeong – 풍경” in Korean, are absolutely beautiful, but like everything else at a Korean Buddhist temple, they have a symbolic meaning. So what do they look like? Why are they…

  • Busan

    Haegwangsa Temple – 해광사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support!  Temple History and Myth Haegwangsa Temple is a seaside temple located in Gijang-gun, Busan. The temple was first built about one hundred years ago by the monk Kim Mokam-sunim. As for the myth surrounding the creation of the temple, originally Kim Mokam-sunim was a farmer. In fact, the land used for the creation of Haegwangsa Temple used to be his farmland. One day after finishing up his work, Kim took…

  • Artwork

    Gareungbinga and Gongmyeongjo – Kalavinka and Jivamjivaka: 가릉빈가 & 공명조

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support!  Introduction Two of the more obscure figures you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple or hermitage is Gareungbinga or “Kalavinka” in Sanskrit, and Gongmyeongjo or “Jivamjivaka” in Sanskrit. While these human-bird-like creatures were once far more prominent at temples, they are now much harder to find. So what do they look like? Where can you find them? And what do they symbolize? Gareungbinga – Kalavinka The first of these two…

  • Artwork

    Ggotsalmun – Flower Latticework Door: 꽃살문

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support!  Introduction Throughout Korea, and at the various Buddhist temples and hermitages that dot the Korean peninsula, you’ll find a countless amount of beautiful latticework adorning the entryways to temple shrine halls. This latticework is typically floral or geometric in design. And while these designs are usually rather stunning in appearance, the exact meaning behind them may be less clear. So what does this latticework look like? Where can you find…