Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri – 홍천 괘석리 사사자 삼층석탑 (Hongcheon, Gangwon-do)
The Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri is currently located out in front of the county office in Hongcheon, Gangwon-do. The pagoda was moved to this new location in 1969. Formerly, it was housed at a temple site in Gwaeseok-ri, Duchon-myeon, Gangwon-do. However, the former temple site is now used as a farmer’s field. In addition to the Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri, the temple site had a few roof tile shards strewn throughout its grounds.
The Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri was declared Korean Treasure #540 in July, 1971.
The Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri is located to the south of the county office and the neighbouring Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Huimang-ri, which is Korean Treasure #79. The Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri has three stories, which is mounted on a two-tier base that consists of four seated stone lions. In total, the pagoda stands 3.5 metres in height. The pagoda’s design is reminiscent of the Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda of Hwaeomsa Temple, but it’s less refined and smaller in size.
The Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri has four sides to its base that are sculpted with floral designs. Each of the four stone lions occupies one of the four corners of the pagoda. Collectively, these stone lions support a wide stone slab above their heads. A lotus pedestal is visible on the stone slab above the four lions. And in the middle of the stone slab on which they are seated, a Buddha image used to appear, but it’s now missing. Interestingly, the tails of the lions are shaped like hearts. The roof stones are separated from the rest of the pagoda, and it has a three-tier edged base. The roof stones are rather plain and thin. And the four tips of the roof are slightly turned upwards at the end. There are holes at the end where wind chimes used to hang. The finial is missing from the pagoda with only the dew basin still remaining. In addition to most of the missing finial, parts of the second and third story stones have broken away, but the pagoda still retains its overall original appearance. As a whole, and based upon its design, it’s strongly believed that the Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri dates back to the mid-Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392); however, its overall design is heavily influenced by Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.).
How To Get There
From the Hongcheon Intercity Bus Terminal, you can simply walk to get to the Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri. You can head east from the bus terminal along Hongcheon-ro Street and past the rotary. Head east along this street for about 800 metres until you come to Majigi-ro Street. Head north along this street for about 600 metres. Head east, once more, along Hwaemang-ro Street for an additional 150 metres. To the north, and as you walk, you’ll see the county office for Hongcheon. The Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri is to the south of this county office and to the west of its parking lot. In total, the hike is about 1.3 km, or 20 minutes in duration.
If walking isn’t your thing, or it’s already been a long day, a taxi ride from the Hongcheon Intercity Bus Terminal to Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri is about a 5 minute ride that will cost you 4,000 won.
Overall Rating: 3/10
On its own, the The Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Gwaeseok-ri is a beautiful example of the lion-based design found in the design of some of Korea’s most famous pagodas. While slightly damaged, the pagoda retains its overall beautiful aesthetic. In addition to this beautiful Korean Treasure, you can find yet another Korean Treasure, the Three-Story Stone Pagoda in Huimang-ri, in front of the county office at Hongcheon. And paired together, the two pagodas can make for a nice little trip to the centre of Hongcheon, Gangwon-do to visit one of the lesser known lion-based pagodas in Korea.