• Gyeongju

    Wolji Pond – 월지 (Gyeongju)

    History of Wolji Pond Since the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Wolji Pond was known as Anapji Pond. The name Anapji is a combination of three Chinese characters: “An – 雁,” which means “goose” in English; “Ap – 鴨,” which means “duck,” and “Ji – 池,” which means “pond” in English. The reason for this name is that after Later Silla collapsed (668-935 A.D.), and Donggung Palace was abandoned, the pond was occupied by wild geese, ducks, and reeds. During the excavation of Wolji Pond, a lock with the inscription “Donggunga” on it suggested that the pond’s original name was Wolji. The reason for this is that the name “Donggunga” was in…

  • Artwork

    Yunjangdae – Revolving Scriptures Library Pillar: 윤장대

    Introduction Perhaps the most obscure piece of artwork that you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Yunjangdae, or “Revolving Scriptures Library Pillar.” In all of my travels, which now exceeds five hundred temples and hermitages, I’ve only encountered these beautiful libraries at three Korean Buddhist temples. So where can you find them? What do they look like? And why are they there? Yunjangdae Design The Yunjangdae, which is also known as a Jeonryunjang, is a colourfully painted library that houses Buddhist texts inside a wooden pillar. The Yunjangdae is rooted to the ground, but it has the ability to rotate caused by a spinning base. It can also…

  • Busan

    Haeunjeongsa Temple – 해운정사 (Haeundae-gu, Busan)

    Temple History Hyanggok-seonsa (1912-1978), who was the founding monk of Haeunjeongsa Temple, was wandering all over Korea in an attempt to find a perfect place to build a temple. And the reason that Hyanggok-seonsa wanted to build a temple is that he wanted to help rescue people’s souls. Eventually, he arrived in Haeundae, Busan. More specifically, he found the perfect place for a temple at the base of Mt. Jangsan (634 m) to the south and east of the diminutive Mt. Bongdaesan (147.7 m). The reason that Hyanggok-seonsa decided to build Haeungjeongsa Temple where it’s located is that he believed that Mt. Jangsan looked like a seated female lion. And…

  • Artwork

    Gwangbae and Geosingwang – The Nimbus and Mandorla: 광배 & 거신광

    Introduction It’s common to see either the body or head (or both) of a Buddha or Bodhisattva at a Korean Buddhist temple have a circular nimbus or boat-like shaped mandorla surrounding it. Both shapes are loaded with symbolic meaning. So why do they appear in Buddhist artwork like in statues or paintings? And what do they mean? Gwangbae and Geosingwang Design In Korean, the round nimbus around the head of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is known as a “Gwangbae – 광배.” And the boat-like shaped mandorla around the head and body of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is called a “Geosingwang – 거신광” in Korean. In India, the nimbus is traditionally…

  • Daegu

    Namjijangsa Temple – 남지장사 (Dalseong-gun, Daegu)

    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 Namjijangsa Temple is located in the southern part of Daegu in Dalseong-gun. More specifically, the temple is located to the south-east of the towering Mt. Choijeongsan (905 m). As for the name of the temple, Namjijangsa Temple means “South Jijang Temple” in English, which is in reference to the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife: Jijang-bosal. And the temple is a counterpart to Bukjijangsa Temple in neighbouring Dong-gu, Daegu. Namjijangsa…

  • Artwork

    Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang – The Twin Guardians of Korean Temples: 나라연 금강 & 밀적 금강

    Introduction When you first enter a temple, you’re typically greeted by the paintings or the statues of the “Sacheonwang” in Korean, or the “Four Heavenly Kings” in English, inside the Cheonwangmun Gate. However, there are two other guardians that you can find at the entry of a Korean Buddhist temple. They can either be painted on the front entry doors to the temple, or they can take up residence inside the Geumgangmun Gate. As I’ve already written a post about the Sacheonwang, I thought I would now write about the other two guardians that you might encounter at the entry of a Korean temple. So who are these two guardians?…

  • Daegu

    Bukjijangsa Temple – 북지장사 (Dong-gu, Daegu)

    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 Bukjijangsa Temple is located on the south-eastern part of Mt. Palgongsan (1192.3 m) in northern Daegu. Bukjijangsa Temple was first constructed in 465 A.D. by the monk Geukdal-hwasang. The name of the temple, Bukjijangsa Temple, means “North Jijang Temple” in English. The temple is named after the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife, Jijang-bosal. The temple is a counterpart to Namjijangsa Temple in neighbouring Dalseong-gun, Daegu. Namjijangsa Temple, which means…

  • Artwork

    Gwaebul – Large Buddhist Banner Painting: 괘불

    Introduction In yet another post about Korean Buddhist temple artwork, I thought I would discuss the Gwaebul, which is a “Large Buddhist Banner Painting” in English. So where can you find this rarely seen piece of temple artwork? What does it look like? And why do you find it at a Korean Buddhist temple? The Gwaebul A “Gwaebul – 괘불” is a large hanging mural that can be over fifteen metres in height and ten metres in width. Gwaebul are rarely seen, as they are typically only put on display once a year during Buddha’s Birthday festivities. At some temples, a Gwaebul is only put on display once every ten…