Korea's Religious Places - 1.1.10 Buseoksa Temple (Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)
|Understanding Korea Series No.6|
|← Previous||Korea's Religious Places||Next →|
|* Daeheungsa Temple (Haenam, Jeollanam-do)||* Buseoksa Temple (Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)||* Bongjeongsa Temple (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)|
Buseoksa Temple (Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)
One of the oldest temples in Korea, Buseoksa Temple was founded by the famous Silla monk Uisang (625–702). There is a legend accompanying the founding of the temple and the unusual rock formation there that gives it its name—Buseoksa Temple, “Temple of the Floating Rock.” Behind the main hall in the complex is a rock that looks to be suspended over the ground; thus, the idea of its having floated there. The legend says that when Uisang studied Buddhism in Tang China, a maiden became infatuated with him. When he returned to Korea, she transformed herself into a dragon to guard him on the dangerous journey home. Once back in Korea, the spirit of the dragon guided Uisang to build the temple. Once built, the dragon changed into a rock that floated off to the side of the complex to continue its protective spirit over the temple.
The Shrine for the Founder (Josadang Shrine) is a hall dedicated to a portrait of Uisang and is one of the oldest buildings in Korea, dating from the late Goryeo period. A simple structure, yet elegant in its simplicity and antiquity, it escaped the destruction wrought by the Japanese invasion of 1592. Simple in its architecture, it is a testament to the ancient belief system of Buddhism in Korea. In addition to the hall itself as a designated treasure (National Treasure no. 19), there are mural paintings inside the hall that have also been listed as a treasure (National Treasure no. 46).
The main hall, the Muryangsujeon Hall, is National Treasure no. 18. Built in 1376, it is one of the oldest buildings in Korea. The name means “Hall of the Buddha of Limitless Life” and is understood to be a reference to the Buddha Amitayus, another name for Amitabha, the central figure in Pure Land Buddhism, which was so popular in Tang China, and consequently in the Silla Kingdom. After studying in China, Uisang became a great advocate of Pure Land practices along with founding the Hwaeom Order in Silla.
Two more features of Buseoksa Temple are also designated as National Treasures. The Buddha inside the Muryangsujeon Hall, a gilt-clay figure, is no. 45, and no. 17 is a stone lantern in front of the hall. All together there are five National Treasures, as well as additional Treasures and other locally designated artifacts at this temple, making it one of the richest in terms of individually recognized treasures of various levels.