• 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Artwork

    The Manja – The Swastika: 만자

    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 I’m sure you’ve seen the Manja – 만자 several times when you’ve visited a Korean Buddhist temple. In the West, this symbol is known as a swastika, and it has a more ominous meaning to it, unfortunately. It’s now come to be synonymous with Nazism, Hitler, and the Third Reich. However, while the Nazi use of the swastika stands for racism and hatred, the Buddhist idea of the swastika…

  • Artwork

    Yong – Dragons: 용

    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 One of the most common things you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple is a dragon. You can find them in paintings, statues, adornments, latticework around shrine halls and even under bridges. So why do you find so many dragons are a Korean Buddhist temple? History of the Korean Dragon As Buddhism started to migrate eastward from India, it started to take on local influences and forms. One great…

  • Artwork

    Universal Salvation Pavilion – Boje-ru: 보제루

    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! Boje-ru Pavilion Design The fifth and final entry gate at a Korean Buddhist temple is actually a pavilion/entry gate. This pavilion/entry gate is sometimes referred to as the Boje-ru Pavilion, which means “Universal Salvation Pavilion,” in English. The pavilion is a two-story structure that is positioned between the Beopdang (main hall) and the Bulimun Gate (The Gate of Non-Duality). Specifically, Boje means “universal salvation,” which is a reference to the…

  • Artwork

    Bulimun – The Gate of Non-Duality: 불이문

    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! Bulimun Gate Design The fourth potential gate at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Bulimun Gate, which means “The Gate of Non-Duality,” in English. At some temples, instead of being called a Bulimun Gate, it’s called the Haetalmun Gate, or the “Gate of Liberation,” in English. And even rarer, it’s sometimes called the Yeolbanmun Gate, or the “Nirvana Gate,” in English. These gates are usually adorned with beautiful pastoral paintings.…