Korean, temples and palaces are painted in a particular
style called "tanch'ong". Tanch'ong means "red
and blue", the principal colours used in these colourful
cosmic designs. Originally arriving with Buddhism when
it was brought from China, the patterns of tanch'ong were
modified in Korea. Tanch'ong preserves the wood from insects
and the elements and adds glory and richness to the buildings.
outside eaves, the inside rafters and the ceilings are
covered with intricate tanch'ong patterns. On the main
temple beams and among the rafters, interwoven between
the patterns, you will find pictures of spirits, ancient
monks, Bodhisattvas and dragons, to name a few. It is
said that during the Shilla period, tanch'ong was even
found on commoners' home. Now it is limited to temples
and palaces as well as some musical instruments.
paintings are not only beautiful but also full of meaning.
Symbols are included in the paintings; beauty and meaning
are interrelated to instruct the visitor on his spiritual
quest, reminding him of the path.
the outside ends of big buildings, up towards the roof,
you will see three circles. These represent heaven, earth
and man, the three important things that Tangun, the mythological
founder of Korea, is supposed to have brought with him.
They have come to represent the Buddha, his teaching and
the community of Buddhists.
are another common symbol found in Buddhist paintings,
are to be seen in many forms. The lotus grows from mud
(representing ignorance) up to the clear sunlight (representing
symbol of the fish is often painted on the main Buddha
table. It represents the effort and determination necessary
for attaining enlightenment, for the fish supposedly,
never closes its eyes.
you look closely, you will find swastika everywhere: on
the outside of buildings, woven into patterns, even in
the decorations in the subways and in roadside railings.
The swastika is an ancient Buddhist symbol of peace, harmony
and good luck.