Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cheongungyo and Baegungyo bridges of Bulguksa Temple, kyengju

On the way to Geuk Rak Jeon and Dae Ung Jeon, the places of worship in Bulguksa Temple, are the Cheongun and Baegun bridges on the east and the Yeonhwa and Chilbo bridges on the west. The Cheongun bridge and the Baegun bridge are connected to Jahamun, turning towards Dae Ung Jeon.


They have a symbolic meaning of connecting the mundane world under the bridges with the Buddha’s world on top of the bridges. Of the two stairs, the lower one is the Cheongun bridge, with 17 steps, a height of 3.82m, and a width of 5.14m. The upper stairs is the Baegun bridge, with 16 steps, a height of 3.15m, and a width of 5.09m. There are 33 stairs in all, which stand for the 33 steps before reaching the Buddha’s state.

The Cheongun bridge symbolizes a youth’s life, whereas the Baegun bridge represents the life of an old man with white hair. There is a small passage under the Baegun bridge, and the Cheongun bridge lengthily extends on the side with similarly fabricated thin and wide cover stones located on both sides of the passage. The stairs were made in the bridge style and have a unique structure, and their ascending inclines are at 45°, which shows that they were made with special care. Furthermore, the trimming techniques are exquisite. They seem to have been built in the 10th year of King Gyeongdeok’s reign in the unified Silla era (750). They are very precious since they are the only Silla bridges that remain in perfect shape. Besides, the bridges’ lower parts, which have a rainbow shape, show the early form of a Hongyegyo bridge with an arch shape, which can be seen in stone bridges or castle gates in Korea. Thus, these are very important historical properties.

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