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Revolving Buddhist sutra case to be named national treasure

Revolving Buddhist sutra case to be named national treasure

Posted October. 02, 2019 07:42,   

Updated October. 02, 2019 07:42


A revolving Buddhist sutra case, which is over 800 years old, will be designated as a national treasure. The Cultural Heritage Administration announced Tuesday that Yunjangdae, a revolving scriptures case, and Daejangjeon, a hall that protects the former, in Yongmunsa Temple in Yecheon, North Gyeongsang Province will be named a national treasure. Previously having been designated as each treasure, the two will be integrated and elevated in status as one national treasure.

Yunjangdae, also called Jeonryunjang, is a spinning pillar for Buddhist scriptures. Built by a Buddhist monk during the reign of Myeongjong of Goryeo in hopes of overcoming a national crisis, each of the sutra cases is located within Daejangjeon, and the octagon-shaped Buddhist sanctum spins around the wooden pillar. There is also room to place scriptures within the sanctum, which had been restored several times at least until the 17th century. A belief has been passed on that if Yunjangdae goes around once, you have read the scriptures once.

“Yunjangdae in Yongmunsa Temple is original and artistic in that it reflects thoughts about yin and yang and five elements of the universe as well as the sky and the earth while being adorned in a simple but sophisticated manner,” the cultural agency said. “It is a comprehensive art piece born out of the artistic technique and capability in architecture, sculpture, crafts, and painting.”

Meanwhile, Yongmunsa’s Daejangjeon is the only structure in the country that stores such a library pillar. The gambrel-roofed building had been repaired for over eight times until the late 17th century, but still has the same size and structure it first had. The section of its ridgepoles or the shape of a short pillar indicate the architectural style used in late Goryeo Dynasty and early Joseon Dynasty. A total of 24 buildings have been designated as national treasures, and Daejangjeon will be the first architecture to be named as such in eight years since Geukrakjeon in Hwaamsa Temple in Wanju.

The Cultural Heritage Administration said that they decided to promote the status of Yunjangdae and Daejangjeon to a national treasure considering the time of their establishment, meaning, and characteristics. A final decision on whether a treasure can be promoted to a national treasure can be made after a 30-day notice period through the deliberation of the Cultural Heritage Committee.

Jong-Yeob JO jjj@donga.com