Gyeongju Bulguksa

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Bulguksa – Yeonghwagyo & Chilbogyo
National Treasure No. 22
Location: 15-1, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

On the stairs up to the main sanctuaries of Bulguksa, Daewoongjeon and Geukrakjeon, there are the bridge of Cheongwoongyo and the bridge of Baekwoongyo in the east and the bridge of Yeonhwagyo and the bridge of Chilbogyo in the west. Yeonhwagyo and Chilbogyo are connected with the gate of Anyangmun towards Geukrakjeon. It is known that the bridges were used not by people from the mundane world but by those from heaven.

Yeonhwagyo is similar to any other ordinary bridge regarding its structure. However, the bridge is quite unique since there are lotus flowers on each stair. The 18 stairs consist of Yeonhwagyo for the lower ten stairs and Chilbogyo for the upper eight stairs. Yeonhwagyo has the height of 2.31m and the width of 1.48m, while Chilbogyo has the height of 4.06m and the width of 1.16m. While Cheongwoongyo and Baekwoongyo in the east show a grand image, Yeonhwagyo and Chilbogyo show delicate beauty, representing harmony and changes for the structure of Bulguksa. They seem to have been built in 751, the tenth year under the reign of King Gyeongdeok in the period of unified Silla.


Beomyeongru
Even if there is a big drum for Buddhist rites now, the place used to have the structure of a Korean belfry. It was built in 751. Through several times of repair and maintenance, it was finally restored according to its original image in 1973 when the temple of Bulguksa was reconstructed. The stone pillars supporting the pagoda represent the image of Mt. Sumi. Therefore, it is sometimes called Sumi Belfry.



Bulguksa – Cheongwoongyo & Baekwoongyo
National Treasure No. 23
Location: 15-1, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

On the stairs up to the main sanctuaries of Bulguksa, Daewoongjeon and Geukrakjeon, there are the bridge of Cheongwoongyo and the bridge of Baekwoongyo in the east and the bridge of Yeonhwagyo and the bridge of Chilbogyo in the west. Cheongwoongyo and Baekwoongyo are connected to the gate of Jahamun towards Daewoongjeon, showing a symbolic image connecting the mundane world under the bridges and the world belonging to Buddha above them. Cheongwoongyo consists of the lower 17 stairs, showing the height of 3.82m and the width of 5.14m. Baekwoongyo consists of the upper 16 stairs, showing the height of 3.15m and the width of 5.09m. There are 33 stairs in total. The number 33 represents thirty three stages under the level of becoming Buddha in Buddhism.

Cheongwoongyo shows the image of a young man, while Baekwoongyo represents the image of an old man with white hair. Both of them symbolize people’s life. There is a small hallway under Baekwoongyo. Just like the manufacturing method of Cheongwoongyo, thin and large covering stones are located along the long side lines of the hallway. The stairs show a unique structure made of bridges. The climbing slope shows the structure of 45 degrees, showing a delicate construction method.

They seem to have been built in 750, the tenth year under the reign of King Gyeongdeok in the period of unified Silla. They are very precious structures, since they are the only bridges from the period of Silla, which still show a complete form. Also, the lower part of the stairs, which shows the image of a rainbow, indicates the initial form of an arched bridge which can be seen from stone bridges or gates in Korea, being extremely valuable.


Daewoongjeon
This is the Buddhist sanctuary honoring Sakyamuni Buddha. Daewoong is the term used to express the great virtue of Sakyamuni Buddha. It was constructed in 681. It had been rebuilt several times until it was finally constructed on the top of the stylobate at the time of establishment in 1765. It is a representative Buddhist building which was constructed in the late period of Chosun.


Jahamun
It was built in about 750. Since then, it had been rebuilt several times until it was largely restored in 1966. Buddha’s land where Daewoongjeon is located is spread beyond the gate of Jahamun at the top of Cheongwoongyo and Baekwoongyo. The name Jaha (a red sunset) has been used in order to express Buddha’s charitableness.



Bulguksa – Dabotap
National Treasure No. 20
Location: 15-1, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
The temple of Bulguksa was built in 751, the tenth year under the reign of King Gyeongdeok in the period of unified Silla according to the claim made by Kim Daeseong. It clearly shows the spiritual world of Silla people who tried to materialize a paradise or ideal world where Buddha for the past, present and future was living.

The height of the top is 10.34m. It shows a unique form which is different from any ordinary stone pagoda from the period of unified Silla. The official title of the pagoda is “Daboyeoraesangjujeungmyeongtap” which means that Dabo Buddha always proves the truth of Sakyamuni Buddha in the Sutra of the Lotus. There is no other case of building a pagoda representing such contents in any other Buddhist country.

This pagoda seems to have been built in 751, the tenth year under the reign of King Gyeongdeok. The pagoda consists of stairs on four sides of the square stylobate, four square stone pillars in the center and crossing stands above them for the roof stone. There used to be four stone lions on the top of the stone stairs of the stylobate. However, there is only one left now, since three of them which were believed to be in good conditions were stolen by the Japanese colonial government and have been missing until now.

On the top of the roof stone, there is a square banister with an octagon body. On the octagon body, there is an octagon banister. Within the banister, there are eight stone pillars showing the image of the knots on a bamboo tree. The pillars support 16 octagon stone lotus flowers. On the stone lotus flowers, eight stands showing the shape of the top of a pillar support an octagon roof stone.



Bulguksa – Three-story Pagoda
National Treasure No. 21
Location: 15-1, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
This is a typical three-story pagoda from the period of unified Silla with the height of 10.63m. This pagoda is facing Dabotap in the east. It is called either Seokgatap or Muyeongtap (which means the pagoda with no shadow).

Seokgatap has been called Muyeongtap due to the sad legendary story about Asanyeo who was the wife of Asadal, the stonemason from Baekje who built Seokgatap. Asanyeo, who came from Seorabeol, the capital of Silla, drowned herself in a pond without even meeting her husband. The official title of the pagoda is “Seokgayeoraesangjuseolbeoptap” which means that Dabo Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha in the Sutra of the Lotus sit together and preach Buddhist teachings. Around the stylobate, there is a section called Palbanggeumgangjwa which connects eight lotus flowers, which is translated as a holy space for keeping Buddha’s sari (sacred relics).

Under the stylobate in the section, there is artificial bedrock made of fieldstone. On the top of the two-story stylobate, there are three stories of core and roof stones.

This pagoda seems to have been built in 751, the tenth year under the reign of King Gyeongdeok in the period of unified Silla. It had been once damaged by a robber until it was repaired in December, 1966. At that time, ‘Mugujeonggwangdaedaranigyeong’, which is the oldest wooden printed material in the world, was found together with a box for sari from the square hall in the center on the top side of the two-story core stone.


Museoljeon
This is the hall for preaching Buddhist teachings. The place has been called Museol (without a tongue) even if it is used to preach teachings with words, since the essence of truth and the significant meaning of Buddhism are unspeakable stages which cannot be reached with words.

Buddhist Master Euisang held a lecture for the first time at Museoljeon in 670. It had been rebuilt several times since the time of establishment until it was finally restored in 1973. It shows the architectural style from the late period of Chosun.



Birojeon
This is the Buddhist sanctuary honoring Birojana Buddha.

At Birojeon, there is ‘Geumdongbirojanabuljwasang’ (from the mid-eighth century) which is the national treasure No. 26. It was built in 751. It had been rebuilt several times until it was finally restored on the stylobate and cornerstone from the time of establishment in 1973. It shows the architectural style from the late period of Chosun.




Bulguksa - Saritap
Treasure No. 61
Location: 15, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Saritap is located in the back of the hall in Bulguksa, showing an image which is similar to a stone lantern. It seems that the pagoda is ‘Gwanghakbudo’ from the history journal of [Bulguksa Sajeokgi]. It consists of a spear-shaped structure on a square foundation stone. Within the structure, there is an engraved flower. On the lower octagon stand, there are eight big stones showing the image of lotus flowers. The middle stand with the image of Janggu (a double-headed drum) shows the engraved image of a cloud. The lower side of the upper stand shows the engraved image of nine lotus flowers with inside circles, while the upper side of the stand shows the image of lotus seeds. The cylindrical body of the pagoda is classified into four parts with decorated pillars. On each side, there are chambers for honoring a shallow-engraved statue of Buddha covered by a tent on the upper part. Within the chamber, the images of fire and Buddhist saints and guardians have been engraved.

Under the roof stone showing the image of a tiled roof, the image of lotus flowers has been engraved. The top ornament has been missing. It seems to have been built in the early period of Goryeo, showing a unique shape which is different from the octagon shape from the period of unified Silla. Saritap had been taken to Japan in 1905 before it was recovered and rebuilt.


Gwaneumjeon
This is the Buddhist sanctuary for honoring Guan Yin Buddha. It was built in 751. It had been rebuilt several times until it was finally restored in 1973 when the temple of Bulguksa was reconstructed. It shows the architectural style from the early period of Chosun (about 1400).




Anyangmun
It was built in about 750. Since then, it had been rebuilt several times until it was largely restored in 1973. Buddha’s land where Geukrakjeon is spread beyond the gate of Anyangmun at the top of Yeonhwagyo and Chilbogyo. Anyang is another name for Geukrak (heaven).


The Sign for the Good-luck Pig at Geukrakjeon
Geukrakjeon is the Buddhist sanctuary for honoring Amita Buddha who saves people from trouble and pain as the main god in Buddha’s land. The 48 large circles of Amita Buddha represent the vows for saving people. The 24 large circles of Amita Buddha contain the statement of “To be satisfied with everything”.

A satisfied life represents a warning for self-control by identifying the end of one’s desire in addition to the satisfaction of food, clothing and shelter. The end of wealth is related to self-satisfaction. It is known that pigs symbolize the abundance of properties, food and clothing, while bringing good luck. The Good-luck Pig from Buddha’s land which is filled with all the happiness and pleasure of the world symbolizes wealth and honor, making it necessary to control such wealth and honor with wisdom. If the “basis for kind wisdom” is added to the place where wealth and honor stay together, any place could be regarded as Buddha’s land. The Good-luck Pig at Geukrakjeon will bring everybody good luck.



Geukrakjeon
This is the Buddhist sanctuary for honoring Amita Buddha. At Geukrakjeon, there is “Geumdongamitayeoraejwasang” (from the mid-eight century) which is the national treasure No. 27. It was built in 751. Since then, it had been rebuilt several times until it was finally restored on the stylobate and cornerstone from the time of establishment in 1750. It shows the architectural style from the late period of Chosun.



Cheonhwangmun
Cheonghwangmun is the second gate towards the main temple. The gate is made of engraved images, paintings or statues of the four heavenly kings protecting the Buddhist teachings.


Bulguksa – Seokjo (Stone Structure)
Treasure No. 1523
Location: 15-1, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
This shows a rectangular projected body. Its original location is not clear. It has the width of 265 and the height of 56cm. The outer side of the structure is made of embossed bands and eye shapes. The entrance is made of four corners and a concave shape from two long sides towards center.

There is an oval space in the center of the inner floor. The image of small lotus flowers has been carved twice along both long sides. On both edges, there is a unique engraved image of lotus flowers covered with large leaves.

In the center of each inner long wall, there is the image of lotus flowers just like the one on the floor. Other images of lotus flowers have been engraved along both sides.

It shows the oval shape in the center of the floor surrounded by lotus flowers.
According to the engraving method, it seems to have been made in the period of unified Silla.


Gyeongju Bulguksa
Historical Site No. 502
Location: 15-1, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
The construction of Bulguksa was started according to the claim made by Premier Kim Daeseong in 751, the tenth year under the reign of King Gyeongdeok in Silla. It was completed in 774, the tenth year under the reign of King Hyegong. Since it was used as an army base in 1593, the 26th year under the reign of King Seonjo in Chosun at the time of the Japanese invasion, the wooden structure was completely burned down by the Japanese army. After that time, certain parts of the temple, including Daewoongjeon, were restored. Between 1969 and 1973, the original building site for the time of establishment was discovered and investigated before restoring the entire temple and providing it with the current appearance.

The temple consists of the 90m stonework from the east to the west. There is Jahamun at the top of Cheongwoongyo and Baekwoongyo, while Daewoongjeon and Museoljeon are located from the north to the south. Also, there are Seokgatap and Dabotap. In the west of the temple, there are Yeonhwagyo, Chilbogyo and Anyangmun together with Geukrakjeon where Geumdongamitayeoraejwasang is kept. In the back of Museoljeon, there are Birojeon, where Geumdongbirojanabuljwasang is kept, and Gwaneumjeon. Bulguksa is the place where Buddhist monks have preached Buddhist teachings by establishing a magnificent and grand land for Buddhism. With rich imagination and artistic skills, the temple shows the essence of Buddhist art from the period of Silla. It was registered in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995 together with Seokguram.


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