• Artwork

    Shinjung Taenghwa – The Guardian Mural: 신중 탱화

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! Introduction The Shinjung Taenghwa is one of the most popular murals that you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple. In English, the Shinjung Taenghwa means “Altar Painting of Guardian Deities,” or the “Guardian Mural” for short. This mural is highly intricate. So what exactly does a Shinjung Taenghwa look like? Where can you find it? And what does it all mean? Shinjung Taenghwa Design The Shinjung Taenghwa is a relatively large sized mural. It…

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    Gamno-do – The Sweet Dew Mural: 감로도

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! Introduction One of the more difficult Buddhist murals to find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Gamno-do, or “Sweet Dew Mural” in English. In fact, I’ve only ever seen this mural at a handful of temples and hermitages in all of my travels. So what is a Gamno-do? What does it look like? And what is it supposed to mean? Gamno-do Design A Gamno-do depicts the Ullambana Sutra. Other names for this type…

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    Budo – Stupa: 부도

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! Introduction When you first enter a Korean temple or hermitage, or even their grounds, you might see a row of strangely designed stone monuments that somewhat resemble headstones. In Korean, these are known as “budo,” or “stupa,” in English. Officially, they are known as “seung-tap,” or a “monk’s pagoda,” in English. So what exactly does a Korean Buddhist stupa look like? What are they for? And what are their symbolic meaning? History In Buddhism,…

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    Biseok – Stele: 비석

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! History and Design A biseok, or stele, in English, is a rectangular piece of stone that stands as a monument for a deceased monk. The tradition of creating biseok started during the Three Kingdoms of Korea (57 B.C. – 668 A.D.). Stylistically, they are typically made up of three parts: the turtle base, dragon cap, and body with writing. The turtle is thought to be the longest living animal, which is meant as a…

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    Tap – The Korean Pagoda: 탑

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! Introduction One of the most noticeable, and important features of a Korean Buddhist temple is a pagoda. The history of the pagoda in Korea is as old as Buddhism in Korea. And while a pagoda’s design is both beautiful and elegant, it’s also packed with symbolic meaning that may not always be all that evident. So when did the pagoda first appear in Korea? Why is the pagoda situated at a Korean Buddhist temple?…

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    Shimu-do – The Ten Ox-Herding Murals: 심우도

    Introduction Another set of murals that are commonly found at Korean Buddhist temples are the Shimu-do, or “The Ten Ox-Herding Murals,” in English. These paintings are typically found around the exterior walls to the Daeung-jeon Hall, but they can also be found adorning the exterior walls of other shrine halls at a temple. Also, they can be found individually adorning a temple shrine hall, or they can be joined by the Palsang-do (Eight Scenes from the Life of the Buddha Murals). Either way, and on whatever building they might adorn, they are painted at seon temples both in Korea and in China. The Shimu-do first came to the Korean peninsula…

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    Palsang-do – The Eight Scenes from the Life of the Buddha Murals: 팔상도

    Introduction There’s various artwork that typically adorns a Korean Buddhist temple both in and around temple shrine halls. And one of the most popular pieces of artwork is the Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Life of the Buddha Murals) set. This set is a collection of eight murals that depicts the Buddha’s life from birth to death. Typically, they can be found around the exterior walls of a Daeung-jeon Hall, or they can appear inside a Palsang-jeon Hall like at Beopjusa Temple or Beomeosa Temple. These paintings can range in complexity and overall sophistication. And while they do vary in composition, they all depict the same eight scenes, and…

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    Yeongsan-jeon – Vulture Peak Hall: 영산전

    Introduction Another one of the more obscure shrine halls that you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Yeongsan-jeon Hall. The name Yeongsan-jeon means “Vulture Peak Hall,” in English. The hall is meant to symbolically re-enact the Historical Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul, seated on Vulture Peak. It’s on Vulture Peak that Seokgamoni-bul espoused his central ideas and teachings found in the Lotus Sutra, or the “묘법연화경” (Myobeop Yeonhwa-gyeong; short: Beophwa gyeong), in Korean. Yeongsan-jeon Design In the Lotus Sutra, which is regarded as one of the most important and influential sutras in Mahayana Buddhism, Seokgamoni-bul presents the ultimate truth of life. The central idea found in the Lotus Sutra is that…

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    Jong-ru – The Bell Pavilion: 종루

    Introduction One of the most universally found structures at a Korean Buddhist temple, outside the main hall, is the bell pavilion. In Korean, the bell pavilion is known as the Jong-ru – 종루. Typically, a Korean temple’s bell pavilion is open in design, and it’s usually found at the entry of a temple. A temple’s bell pavilion can range in size and height. Sometimes, they are simple one story structures; and other times, they are two stories in height. With that being said, a standard Korean Buddhist bell pavilion has four different percussion instruments. Together, these four percussion instruments are known as the Buljeon Samul, in Korean. This literally means,…

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    Cheonbul-jeon – The One Thousand Buddhas Hall: 천불전

    Introduction One of the more obscure shrine halls that you might find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Cheonbul-jeon, which means “One Thousand Buddhas Hall,” in English. Because of just how well-populated this shrine hall is, it’s one of the easier shrine halls to identify at a Korean Buddhist temple. With that being said, why are there, in fact, one thousand Buddha statues in this type of shrine hall? And why is the the Cheonbul-jeon Hall at a Korean Buddhist temple. Cheonbul-jeon Design The practice of worshiping one thousand incarnations of the Buddha is based upon Mahayana Buddhism, which Korean Buddhism largely ascribes to. The one thousand Buddhas are…