is abundant in Korean Temples. Some of the most evident
objects are stupas and pagoda.
were Buddhism's very first works of art, and in India
you can still see some dating from two hundred years before
our era. They were mainly built over the remains of Buddhist
saints. In China, they were modified into the multi-storied
forms that we call pagodas, but they were still monuments
to great personalities. Once introduced to Korea, they
were changed again, making them typically Korean.
stone works often complement temple compounds. Granite
lanterns are a special Korean artistic addition to any
temple. Traditionally they lit the way for the monks going
to the 3:30 a.m. chanting. There are also water cisterns
at springs and the steep stone stairs, which take the
visitor up into the inspiring world of the Buddhas in
the Main Hall.
temples and hermitages, such as the late Venerable Ch'ong-dam's
(1902-1971) grave at Toson-sa Temple in northern Seoul,
have the equivalent of outdoor exhibitions of exquisite
is specially valued by Korean Buddhists, as evidenced
by wooden temple buildings, with their wooden floors,
their superb, wooden rafters, and wooden doors. Not only
are the rafters beautifully finished with cocks' heads,
but also the doors are covered in delightful details.
Look at them closely. There are little bugs crawling over
flower petals and butterflies fluttering across mountains.
is not only enjoyed aesthetically but it is also appreciated
for its sound and feel. The ubiquitous mokt'ak (a wooden
percussion instrument) accompanies all ceremonies and
can be heard breaking through the early morning to awaken
the temple community. Monks and lay people carry around
wooden prayer beads, used to help concentration. And there
are also statues made of wood, sometimes gilded and sometimes
not. Wooden sutra cases and boxes for the giant paintings
displayed on festival days are also made of wood.
soon as you enter a temple building you will see many
different statue. Let us now take a look at the most important
ones but first the Story of the Mokt'ak.
Story of the Mokt'ak
Once there was a naughty monk. After some time he died
and was reborn as a fish. Out of his back grew a tree
that caused him much pain.
day his teacher saw him. The disciple begged that the
teacher to break off the tree and carve a fish shaped
instrument from it.
teacher did so and the instrument, the rnokt'ak, inspired
the people whenever it was played in the temple.