Monday, September 26, 2011

2011 Millennial Anniversary of the Tripitaka Koneana

Korea, the birth spot of the printing culture

The invention of printing is having a big contribution to the history of mankind. As this expanded the knowledge and accurate information through mass distribution of books, it crucially contributed to modernize the world. In the history of typography, Korea has the world’s best wooden block print and the world’s first metal-type book and has led the world into the printing technology as the birth spot of the printing culture.

Goryeo Daejanggyeong or Palman Daejanggyeong

Goryeo Daejanggyeong in Haein Temple is a collection of Buddhist scriptures and has known as the "Tripitaka Koreana". However, as the number of blocks was about 80,000, it is also known as "Palman Daejanggyeong". (*Palman means 80,000 in Korean.) The number 85,000 was considered countless or the great number in ancient India. Also, countless agonies of human are expressed as 84,000 agonies. The Sakyamuni Buddha’s various discourses on reaching nirvana out of sufferings and attaining to be Buddhahood are called the 84,000 Buddhist writings.

Immensity and perfection called mystery
The Tripitaka Koreana was completed in 1251. The number of wooden blocks is 81,350 and the total weight is 280 tons. It is about 3,200 meters, which is higher than the height of Mt. Baekdu(2,744m) when the entire 81,350 blocks are stacked. It is 150 ri(approximately 60 km), when they are placed in a line. Besides its enormous quantity, the quality is also excellent. As all blocks were consistent and beautiful like one trained person have worked on these, Chusa Jeong-Hui Kim, the master calligrapher from Joseon Era, said, "This was not done by a human being but was done by a Taoist hermit. In addition, there is almost no error or mistake and it is in a best condition as it was made in the modern. Therefore, the world is giving endless praises on Tripitaka Koreana by saying "This is the ultimate beauty of wood printing technology", "This is the world’s mystery" and etc.

Tripitaka Koreana designated as a world heritage site
The Tripitaka Koreana, which still remains perfect after 750 years, is the oldest wooden block Tripitaka and it has been complied into Tipitaka, the teaching of the Buddha. As the content of the Tipitaka was so accurate, it was spread all over the world and expanded the study of Buddhism and also influenced the world’s printing and publication. The Tripitaka Koreana is the essence of Goryeo culture, which is the most important in the Buddhist cultural history, and as its excellence has been known to the whole world, the Tripitaka Koreana (National Treasure No. 52) was listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 1995. The cultural value and the importance of Tripitaka Koreana have been reminded to our children that this is cultural heritage of mankind which we all need to preserve together. The Printing wooden blocks of the Tripitaka Koreana and the miscellaneous Buddhist scripture were designated by UNESCO as world record heritage in 2007.

The Chronological Table of the Tripitaka Koreana

           Tripitaka Koreana

A secret of preserving Tripitaka Koreana within the construction of Janggyeong Panjeon

The Tripitaka Koreana was completed in 1251 and it has been 750 years. How come the blocks made out of wood, which can be easily rot and damaged by insects, still in a perfect shape as the past? A secret of preserving Tripitaka Koreana for hundreds of years and all the history of wars is the construction of Janggyeong Panjeon, which is composition of technology and sincerity.

Precisely calculated simplicity

The Jang-gyeong-pan-jeon is simply constructed without any complexity to maximize the block preservation. This simplicity is precisely calculated and advanced construction technology, which considered the perfect harmony with nature.

Different size of lattice for air ventilation

The wooden block could be destroyed in the nature but the key of the secret to preserve the wooden block without destroying any is the different size of lattice. The lattice on the top and bottom of the wall and the front and back of the building are all different size so the air within the building will ventilate from bottom to top. This is to let the air evacuate after evenly spreading the dry air within the building. This simple difference maintains the cir convection but as well as proper temperature.

Shelf which controls the temperature and humidity by chimney effect

The shelf is made out of thick timber and it is tightly installed and each layer could hold 2 blocks so it could have good air ventilation. The block displayed densely on 5 layers of shelf and the niche between the blocks could control the temperature and humidity of blocks by chimney effect.

The charcoals on the floor will adjust the humidity

In addition, there are charcoal, clay, sand, salt and lime powder on the ground. This automatically controls the humidity by absorbing all the humidity after the rain but also provide humidity during the drought.

Perfect construction skills beyond modern technology

In other words, even we remodel the Jang-gyeong-pan-jeon today; it wouldn’t need any change as it is a perfect building with moist control function. Not only due to the skills to dry, polish and carve the block material, but the construction technology of Jang-gyeong-pan-jeon to preserve the blocks is also one of reason why we could enjoy the Tripitaka Koreana.

The old wisdom which preserved along with Tripitaka block

There wasn’t a name of science but we’ve found science and technology of our wise ancestors that have well used the nature through accumulated experience and the Tripitaka and Janggyeong Panjeon, which is well preserving the old wisdom, is very proud.

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