Monday, August 12, 2013

Buddha Treasures at Gyeongju, Mt Namsan (Korea) - Part 1

You cannot say you have been to Gyeongju, the ancient capital city of the Silla Kingdom, until you have visited Mt Namsan, a fascinating mountain with numerous Buddha relics from the Silla Kingdom.
Located in the south of the city, Mt. Namsan contains 13 royal tombs, 150 temple sites, 130 stone Buddha Statues and carvings, 100 stone pagodas, 22 stone lanterns, and 4 mountain fortresses from the Silla Kingdom (57BCE – 935CE).
It is not known exactly how many more relics are hidden or lost on this mountain.
Sambulsa Temple with Standing Stone Buddha Statues
    (Treasure No. 63)
The east foot of Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju is also known as Buddha’s Valley. This is a sitting statue of Buddha made out of a 1m deep stone cave carved from one of the stones in this valley. 
The head of the Buddha statue looks as if it is wearing a hempen hood, which is covering the ears. The face is round and looking downwards. A smile is spreading through the whole face in the slightly swollen eyes and deep mouth. In this regard it is similar to the stone statue of a sitting Buddha at Inwang-ri, but generally it has a more beautiful and feminine posture. The clothing hanging from both shoulders looks heavy but it doesn’t cover the curves of the body. 
This stone Buddha statue is the oldest out of the Silla statues on Mt. Namsan. It was made during the late Three Kingdoms Period – 7th Century. 

Seated stone Buddha in Bulgok Valley 
    of Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju
     (Treasure No. 198)
Buddhist image at Tapgok valley 
    (Treasure No. 201)
This is the spot where Sinin temple had once stood during the Unified Silla period. The name of ‘Tapgok’ is originated from the fact that a three-story pagoda stands in the south. 
On the north facade, the image of Sakyamuni flanked by a seven-story wooden pagoda and a nine-story wooden pagoda is sitting on the lotus pedestal. In front of the pagodas, two lions are carved on the stone.
On the east facade, there is a Buddha image at the center, and the image is surrounded by heavenly flying maidens, Buddhist monks, Bodhisattvas, Vajrapani, and trees.
On the south facade, the Buddha triad is amicably carved, and beside the triad there are the images of Bodhisattvas and monks.
On the west facade, a Buddha is sitting among bamboos and weeping willows.
According to a recent research, 34 images in all are identified. 
It is extremely rare that a group of images is carved at one site like this.