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Scenario

Statues of the Buddha in Korea, the Land of the Buddha

The Buddha is depicted in various manners in different temples.
Why do they all have different names and forms?

Buddhism, created by Sakyamuni in 600 BCE, and then spread out from India along the Silk Road to the basin of the Yellow River, in Northern China, around the dawn of the Christian Era.

Buddhism was introduced to the Korean Peninsula in the mid-late 4thcentury, first to the kingdom of Goguryeo, then Baekje.

From Goguryeo, it also spread to the Silla kingdom.

Stone pagodas that held the sarira from the Buddha’s remains became objects of worship soon after the Buddha’s death.

People began to worship statues made in the image of the Buddha around the dawn of the Christian Era.

In the same manner as Buddhism was introduced to Korea, the statues reached Korea and Japan from India via China.

The Buddha statue is composed of 3 parts: body, aureola, and pedestal. These are called the 3 elements of the Buddha statue.

Spread out from India along the Silk Road
to the basin of the Yellow River in Northern China

around the dawn of the Christian Era

Introduced around the mid to late 4th century
to Goguryeo and Baekje

Stone pagodas, holding the sarira from the Buddha’s
remains, were worshipped after the Buddha’s death

Statues made in the image of the Buddha
Were worshipped around the dawn of the Christian Era

India-China-Korea-Japan

Statues of the Buddha spread
from India to China to Korea and then to Japan

The body of the Buddha is depicted using 80 detailed features, in addition to 32 main characteristics mentioned in the sutras.

The aureola depicts the ring of light emanating from the Buddha’s body. There are different types of aureola, such as the dugwang (the halo around the head), singwang (the body illumination), and the geosingwang, the boat-shaped illumination that emanates from the whole body and encompasses the dugwang and singwang.

The pedestal is the embodiment of the Buddha’s meditation seat made with halfa grass. It is called by many names, such as virasana, Mount Meru throne, lion throne, and lotus flower throne.

Religious symbols revealed through certain gestures made by the Buddha or bodhisattva are called mudras.

The Buddha may hold an artifact in his hand or an artifact may sit atop a lotus blossom that the Buddha then holds by its stem.

3 Facets of a Buddha Statue:
body, aureola, and pedestal

The Body of the Buddha
- 32 main characteristics as
mentioned in the sutras
- 80 detailed features

The Aureola
The depiction of the ring of light emanating from the Buddha’s body

The Aureola
- Dugwang, the halo around the head
Singwang, the body illumination
- Geosingwang, the boat-shaped illumination
emanating from the whole body

and encompassing the dugwang and singwang

The Pedestal
- The embodiment of the Buddha’s meditation seat
fashioned of halfa grass
- Called by many names, such as virasana,
Mount Meru throne, lion throne, and lotus flower throne

The Mudras
- Religious symbols revealed by certain hand gestures
made by the Buddha or bodhisattva

The Way the Buddha holds Artifacts in Buddha Statues
- Held in hand
- Placed atop a lotus blossom, the stem of which is used as a handle for the Buddha

From ancient times to modern days, Buddha statues depicted various aspects of the Buddha. These statues reflect the various forms the Buddhist faith took at different periods.

Tathagata refers to the 10 names of the Buddha and which represent the Buddha’s virtues.

Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit term that came to be used with the rise of Mahayana Buddhism.

Bright King is the Buddha with a fearful countenance, who reforms non-followers of the Buddha-dharma. There are many statues of this Buddha in India, China, and Japan but they are rare in Korea.

Devas are the gods of Brahmanism as well as Korean and Chinese gods, who were incorporated into Buddhism.

Arhats are ascetics who have reached the highest level of asceticism, or saints.

Types of the Statues of the Buddha
- Tathagata
The 10 names of the Buddha
that represents the Buddha’s virtues

Types of the Statues of the Buddha
- Bodhisattva
Sanskrit term that came to be used
with the rise of Mahayana Buddhism

Types of the Statues of the Buddha
- Bright King
The Buddha with a fearful countenance,
who reforms non-followers of the Buddha-dharma.

Prominent in India, China and Japan, but rare in Korea

Types of the Statues of the Buddha
- Devas
Gods of Brahmanism, as well as traditional gods
of China and Korea, who were incorporated into Buddhism

Types of Buddha statues
- Arhats
Ascetics who have reached the highest level
of asceticism, or saints

Statues of the Buddha first appeared in Korea in the Three Kingdoms Era.
The history of these statues is closely entwined with the birth, development, and dissemination of Buddhism in Korea.

After Buddhism was introduced to Korea, it spread rapidly and many statues were created.

However, there are few references available regarding such sculpting activities for over 300 years from the late 4th century. Statues created from the 6th century are few in number, and statues that specify the year of completion are rarer still.

Consequently, it is difficult to trace the changes in the style of Buddhist statuary over the centuries.

Buddhism spread rapidly after its introduction to Korean and many statues were created

Few sources are available regarding the Buddhist sculpting activities
for over 300 years from the late 4th century

Statues created since the 6th century are few in number, and statues that specify

the year of completion are rarer still

From the 4th to 6th centuries, the early period of Buddhism’s introduction to the Korean Peninsula, the three kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla were busy consolidating their own ancient states and contending for territory.

Buddhism was introduced to the Korean Peninsula from the Northern Wei kingdom. Consequently, Korean Buddha statues of the early 6th century reflect the style of the Buddha statues of the Northern Wei. They have thin and elongated faces with pleats on the robes that are unnaturally spread out.

The Historical Background to
the Spread of Buddhism
- From the 4th to 6th centuries, the three kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla
Were consolidating their states and contending for territory

Statues of the Buddha in the Goguryeo Period
- Reflect the style of the early 6th-century
Buddha statues of the Northern Wei in China
- Thin and elongated faces.
Pleats on robes unnaturally spread out

Buddhism reached the Baekje kingdom via sea routes from China. As such, the Buddha statues of Baekje followed or slightly deviated from the style of the early Buddha statues popular in China in the 4th-5th centuries.

Statues of the Buddha in the Baekje Kingdom
- Buddhism was transmitted to Baekje
from China via sea routes
- Buddha statues of Baekje followed or slightly deviated from the style
of the Buddha statues of the 4th-5th centuries in China

Portraits of Buddha and Bodhisattvas display a unique composition in that a Bodhisattva and Buddha statue in the half-lotus position flank the Buddha in a Buddha triad style. This reflects the strong Buddhist faith in Korea.

A style similar with the Bodhisattva on the right holding a precious jewel in both hands was popular.

Characteristics of the Buddha statues of Baekje
- Buddha triad style
- Portraits of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas
display a unique composition in that a Bodhisattva

and a Buddha statue in the half-lotus position
flank the Buddha

Characteristics of the Buddha statues of Baekje
- Express the Buddhist faith of Korea

Under royal leadership, Silla adopted Buddhism as its state religion. Silla Buddhism included the belief that the Silla king was a Buddha. The Silla king often referred to himself as the Wheel-turning Monarch. Most of the surviving stone Buddha statues from the 7th century are found in former Silla territories.

Statues of the Buddha in the Silla period
- Buddhism officially recognized by the Silla monarchy
- Belief that the Silla king was a Buddha, the king often
referred to himself as the Wheel-turning Monarch

Buddha Statues of Silla
- Most surviving stone Buddha statues from the 7th century
are found in former Silla territories

The early statues of the Buddha in Korea featured Rocana Buddha in order to strengthen the sanctity of the sovereign power or Maitreya Bodhisattva to express the people’s acceptance of Hwarang as the messianic incarnation of Maitreya.

Rocana Buddha appears to strengthen
the sanctity of the sovereign power

Maitreya bodhisattva appears to express the acceptance
of Hwarang as the messianic incarnation of Maitreya

Soon after Silla’s unification of the Three Kingdoms in the late 7th century, the Buddha-nature treatise, which states that every person possesses the Buddha-nature, was promulgated throughout the land by the monks Wonhyo and Uisang.

Following Silla’s unification of the Three Kingdoms,
the Buddha-nature treatise, which states

that every person possesses the Buddha-nature,
was promulgated throughout the land by the monks Wonhyo and Uisang

The Buddha statues of Unified Sillaincorporated various foreign styles, which brought changes to the statues, while also combining these with local styles to form a new, unique style. From the late 8th to the 9th century, gilt-bronze statues decreased in number while the number of stone and iron statues grew.

Buddha Statues in Unified Silla
- Incorporated various foreign styles
- Changed in new ways or combined
with local styles to create a unique style

From the late 8th to the 9th century,
gilt-bronze statues decreased in number

while the number of stone and iron statues grew

Statues that follow the traditions of the Unified Silla as well as those with distinct local characteristics appear in the Goryeo Dynasty.

In the late Goryeo period, Buddhism became more influential, and the statues featured softer and gentler styles. A new style, influenced by Lamaism from Tibet, became popular during the Yuan (Mongol) intervention period in the 13th century and this style even influenced Buddha statues that appeared in the succeeding Joseon Dynasty.

Characteristics of Buddha Statues of Goryeo
- Softer and gentler style developed
in the late Goryeo period
- A new style influenced by Lamaism from Tibet
becomes popular and continues even into the succeeding Joseon Dynasty

The statues of the Buddha from the Joseon Dynasty, a period in which Buddhist culture declined while Buddhism itself was oppressed and Confucianism venerated, continued the traditions from the previous Goryeo Dynasty but gradually assimilated characteristics of folk religions to form a style unique to the Joseon period.

Buddha Statues of the Joseon period
- Buddhism was oppressed and Confucianism venerated

Characteristics of Buddha Statues of the Joseon period
- Continued the style from the previous Goryeo period
but gradually absorbed characteristics of folk religion
- Styles unique to the Joseon Dynasty emerged

Buddhist statues were often commissioned for personal motivations, such as in the hope of long life, welfare, and an easy passage into the afterlife.

Many statues were created from the 17th century following the Japanese invasions of Korea and these revealed different styles than those statues from early periods. Most of the Buddha statues of the 17th century on are preserved to this day Buddhist temple halls.

People often commissioned Buddhist statues for personal motivations, such as in hopes of long life, welfare and easy passage into the afterlife

Many statues were created in the 17th century
following the Japanese invasions of Korea, and showed different styles

from those of early periods

Most of the statues made after the 17th century
are preserved to this day in temple halls

The world where the Sacred King, who received the blessings of the Buddha, dreams of realizing the Land of the Buddha with those who have attained Buddhahood.

The statues of the Buddha reflect the faith of the Korean people through the ages, who aspired to realize the Land of the Buddha.

The Sacred King, who received
the blessings of the Buddha

dreams of realizing the Land of the Buddha
with those who have attained Buddhahood

Korean statues of the Buddha reflect the faith
of the Korean people through the ages, who dreamt of realizing the Land of the Buddha

-------------------------------------

Script Advisor: Lee Gi-seon
Scenario Composition: Ahn Hyeon-jin, Kim Min-sang
Voice Actor: Oh Su-gyeong
MC: Ju Hye-bin, Hwang Ba-eul
Illustrator: Lee Gwang-il
Research Material Support: National Museum of Korea, Gyeongju National Museum, Cultural Heritage Administration, Hanseong Baekje Museum,E-Museum National Gugak Center
Directors: Kim Hyeong-woo, Lee Hyeok-roh, Lee Yeon-sik
Planning and Production: Arirang TV Media

Statues of the Buddha in Korea
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