Friday, May 6, 2011

Bulguksa Temple of the unified Silla Kingdom in Gyeongju

The construction of Bulguksa Temple was begun by Gim Daeseong in 751 A.D., during the reign of King Gyeongdeok, and was completed in 774 A.D during the reign of King Hyegong. Its construction was begun and completed parallel with that of Seokguram.

Nestled in the western foothills of Mt. Tohamsan, Bulguksa Temple is a monumental work of art recognized throughout the world for its excellence. It depicts profound Buddhist principles and the spirit of artistic genius in a unique way. As the longed-for Buddhist land and ideal world of Silla imagination brought to earth, Bulguksa Temple is a realization of the earthly Saha World as expressed by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Lotus Sutra, Buddha’s Land of Bliss from the Amitabha (Infinite Life) Sutra, and the Lotus Land of Vairocana from the Avatamska (Flower Garland) Sutra.

The architectural form of Bulguksa Temple can be divided chiefly into two areas. One area contains Daeungjeon (Hall of Great Enlightenment), surrounded by Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge), Baegungyo (White Cloud Bridge), Jahamun (Purple Mist Gate), Beomyeongnu (Pavilion of Mount Meru), Jwagyeongnu (Left Sutra Hall), Dabotap (Pagoda of Many Treasures), Seokgatap (Sakyamuni Pagoda), and Museoljeon (Hall of No Words). The other area contains Geuknakjeon (Hall of Supreme Bliss), surrounded by Chilbogyo (Seven Treasures Bridge), Yeonhwagyo (Lotus Flower Bridge), and Anyangmun (Peace Enhancing Gate). The magnificent and unique stone structures seen when one looks straight on at the temple remain from the eighth century, and the wooden buildings are18th century restorations built upon the remains of the original structures that burnt to the ground. Hoerang was restored in the 1960s. The stone structures are marvelously constructed, using long and short stones in the foundations, cylindrical stones for pillars and balustrades, and various other well-hewn stones. Beholders stand in awed admiration of the delicacy, majesty, and lightness of the finely carved stone pillars and balustrades of Yeonhwagyo (Lotus Flower Bridge) and Chilbogyo (Seven Treasures Bridge). The 8.2-meter tall three-tiered stupa known as Seokgatap (Sakyamuni Pagoda), with its well-proportioned sections creating an overall balance, possesses a simple and stately beauty. The famous stupa, Dabotap (Pagoda of Many Treasures), which stands 10.4 meters high on top of a rectangular base, is constructed of many pieces of stone material connected with joints like those seen in wooden architecture. It is highly praised for its elaborate and ornate beauty, unique structure, and creative artistry.

Bulguksa Temple has been classified by the government as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1. Some of its important cultural properties include Dabotap (National Treasure No. 20), Seokgatap (National Treasure No. 21), Cheongungyo and Baegungyo (National Treasure No. 23), Yeonhwagyo and Chilbogyo (National Treasure No. 22), Geumdong Amita Yeoraejwasang, the seated gilt-bronze Amitabha Buddha (National Treasure No. 27), and Birojanabul, the seated gilt-bronze Vairocana Buddha (National Treasure No. 26). In December 1995, Bulguksa Temple was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, together with Seokguram Grotto.

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