Haeinsa: House of the Triptaka Koreana

Above is a clear blue sky.  Below are some green mountains in the background, with ribbons of different colors strung out in the foreground in lower left to upper right diagonals.  Below is an ancient stone pagoda in a courtyard surrounded by temple buildings.

Haeinsa is one of the ‘Three Jewel Temples of Korea’ and a World Heritage Site.

haeinsa_map

The temple is inside Gayasan National Park, in Gyeongsangnam Province. I was there at 10 am when the monks’ prayer began and filled the temple.

DSCF6133

Of the ‘Three Jewels of Korean Buddhism’, it is the one which represents ‘dharma’, that is the Buddha’s teachings.

Instead of having statues of the four demon kings, they have paintings.

Instead of having statues of the four demon kings, they have paintings.

And that is because Haeinsa stores the woodblocks for the Triptaka Koreana

DSCF6136

In the 13th century, the Mongols were invading the Goryeo Kingdom, so they did the obvious thing: they asked the Buddha for help.

DSCF6137

Thus, for sixteen years, monks carved the Triptaka Koreana onto woodblocks, which is the complete collection of Buddhist texts today in order to secure the Buddha’s assistance.

DSCF6138

They carved 81,258 wood blocks (to learn more about Korean printing, see this post about the Jikji in Cheongju.

DSCF6142

I’m guessing that the stone pagoda above dates back to the Silla dynasty, which is when Haeisa was originally constructed.

DSCF6143

I like the dragon head on the roof.

DSCF6145

During the Japanese invasion of 1592, the temple burned down, yet the building storing the wooden printing blocks was spared. The temple burned down again in 1812, yet the wooden printing blocks again were spared.

DSCF6146

During the June 25th War (a.k.a. the Korean War), the UN forces were ordered to bomb Haeinsa, but Kim Young Hwan, who led the pilots, did not obey the command because he did not want to destroy the Triptaka Koreana. Thus the wooden blocks were spared a third time.

DSCF6150

The wooden blocks are stored in the Janggyeong Panjeon, which was built in the early Joseon period.

DSCF6152

To quote Wikipedia:

The architects also utilized nature to help preserve the Tripitaka. The storage complex was built at the highest point of the temple and is 655 meters above sea level. Janggyeong Panjeon faces southwest to avoid damp southeasterly winds from the valley below and is blocked from the cold north wind by mountain peaks. Different sized windows on the north and south sides of both main halls are used for ventilation, utilizing principles of hydrodynamics. The windows were installed in every hall to maximize ventilation and regulate temperature. The clay floors were filled with charcoal, calcium oxide, salt, lime, and sand, which reduce humidity when it rains by absorbing excess moisture which is then retained during the dry winter months. The roof is also made with clay and the bracketing and wood rafters prevent sudden changes in temperature. Additionally, no part of the complex is exposed to sun. Apparently, animals, insects, and birds avoid the complex but the reason for this is unknown. These sophisticated preservation measures are widely credited as the reason the woodblocks have survived in such fantastic condition to this day.

DSCF6153

Visitors are not allowed inside the Janggyeong Panjeon, but I was allowed to walk outside and see the woodblocks of the Triptaka Koreana through the windows.

DSCF6156

Photography of the windows of the Janggyeong Panjeon not permitted … for regular visitors. However, you can find photos of the woodblocks in storage on the internet.

DSCF6157

I only stayed at Haeinsa Temple for a few hours, but this visitor stayed there overnight.

Ah, it was a beautiful day when I went. I didn’t remember how lovely it was until I looked through these photos again.

DSCF6154

Advertisements

About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in Ancient History, Gyeongsangnam, Mostly Photos, National Park, Temple, World Heritage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Haeinsa: House of the Triptaka Koreana

  1. Pingback: Temple by the Horse’s Ears, Temple of a Dedicated Stone-Piler | S.K. in S.K.

  2. Pingback: Guardian of the Han River: Ganghwa Island | S.K. in S.K.

  3. Pingback: SK in SK: Chronological Order | S.K. in S.K.

  4. Pingback: SK in SK: A History of South Korea | S.K. in S.K.

  5. Pingback: SK in SK: Climates of South Korea | S.K. in S.K.

  6. Pingback: SK in SK: The Landscape of Feelings | S.K. in S.K.

  7. Pingback: SK in SK: Discovery vs. Construction | S.K. in S.K.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s