Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha

Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha  

Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha

Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha

Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha

Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha

Paintings of the eight scenes of the life of Buddha can be found in the Palsong-jon, the Eight Pictures Hall, or on the outside walls of the Main Hall of Buddhist Temples. When inside, they are skillfully artistic and colorful as well as quite complex. In addition to the specific episodes, associated ones are shown and the back-ground of the scene is elaborated. When on the outside walls, they are of simple design in a more naive style.
In either case, there are eight clues by which each can be identified: (1) elephant; (2) baby; (3) sick or dead man; (4) white horse over a wall; (5) starved figure; (6) tempters; (7) halo; (8) bier.

i) (Elephant)–Announcement of the imminent birth
A white elephant is a sacred, auspicious symbol in India, where the Buddha was born, and is depicted as the vehicle that brought to earth the Buddha-to-be. Between the right ribs he entered Maya’s womb.
In more detailed indoor paintings, the background is of the palace in which he was born with many people in the rooms and gardens. A whole host of heavenly beings surround the ele-phant and the Buddha-to-be in a cloud that trails to earth above Maya’s head.

ii) (Baby)–The birth
The well-developed babe emerged from the right side of a fully clothed mother and began walking immediately after birth. He was born into a royal family and bore the title of Prince. He was named Siddhartha; Gautama was his family name. Seven days after his birth his mother died. At sixteen he married and had a son. His life in the palace was one of comfort and luxury.
In compound pictures there are nine dragons washing the baby with many earthly attend-ants.

iii) (Sick/dead man)–The world outside the palace
Eventually Siddhartha began to see, out-side the sanctuary of the palace, sickness, old age and death. Then he saw a recluse and realized that the only way to overcome sickness, old age and death was to leave home and attain enlighten-ment. Siddhartha decided to leave his family and home for solitude and meditation.
In the simple pictures one emaciated body tells the story. In the complex ones, life goes on as usual in the palace, but outside the walls in the lower right can be seen illness and in the lower left, death.

iv) (White horse over wall)–Renunciation
His father, learning of Siddhartha췷 intentions to leave the palace, placed extra guards by the gates and others to watch over his son at all times.
But Siddhartha, with the aid of the four guardians and other spirits, was able to escape over the wall on his favorite white horse.
A white horse taking to the air, with his master astride it and the groom hanging on to the tail, represents renunciation.

v) (Starved figure)–Asceticism
For six years he studied and meditated. As was the custom in those days, he punished and disciplined the body until he was nearly dead. Finally realizing that this was not the right way, he began to live moderately and to maintain a healthy body in order to practice in his quest for understanding and enlightenment.

vi) (Tempters)–Temptations
The demon Mara sought to break the spirit of the meditating man and sent various lures away from the path Siddhartha had chosen. First he sent worldly pleasures. When these failed, he sent his army-cum-monsters but the power of the nearly enlightened Buddha was able to stop them and turn their weapons into lotus blossoms. Evil, in the guise of Mara and his tricks, was defeated and righteousness prevailed.
The three voluptuous women trying to seduce him leave no doubt that this is the tempta-tion scene!

vii) (Halo)–Enlightenment
After overcoming temptation, enlighten-ment is complete. Siddhartha had become the his-torical Buddha, Sakyamuni. For forty-five years, he wandered and taught anyone who was interested in his understanding of reality.
In addition to the halo there are disci-ples at his feet, but in the complex pictures this scene is subordinated by a confusing array of celestial and worldly beings and structures.

viii) (Bier)–Death
At the age of eighty the Buddha died. His disciples and many animals gathered around the bier to mourn his passing.
In elaborate paintings, there is a color-ful shower of relics from the burning casket. Around the body are crowds of both heavenly and earthly mourners.

Buddhist wall painting


Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting

Buddhist Painting


Buddhist Painting


Buddhist Painting is not meant to pursue mere beauty, but rather, is a holy and divine art of drawing the subjects and themes of Buddhist principles. Accordingly, good Buddhist paintings depend on how well Buddhist principles are depicted and delivered rather than on revolutionary techniques and skills applied in the paintings. For example, if the liberation from all the sufferings is the main purpose of Buddhism, the most successful Buddhist painting is the one which depicts the scene that helps one to be liberated from all these sufferings.


Buddhist paintings have various purposes; First of all, they are used for decoration. Also, they are used to create solemnity. Secondly, they have the educational purpose of delivering the teachings of the Buddha more easily. Thirdly, they are used for worship.
Korean; Taenghwa (탱화, 幀畫 ,Thangka )


 


Byukhwas (벽화, Temple Murals)
There are three types of temple ‘Byukhwas’ (벽화, temple murals), based on whether they are painted on clay, wood or stone. ; clay, stone and wooden board. Most of the historical temples before the Choseon Dynasty were made of wood and clay, and were decorated with murals.
However, a majority of the paintings disappeared over time due to the destruction or restoration of the temples and so they are now hard to find.
In the case of murals painted on the wood surface, the boards are put on the outside walls of a wooden temple to protect the walls and murals are painted on them. These murals do not last long and it is hard to find ones from long ago. Stone wall paintings are done on the walls of cave temples. In Korea, there are no remaining examples and only a record of that they existed. However, many cave murals have survived many centuries in other parts of the world, for example in Ajanta, India, in Donhuan, Ungang and Daedong in China and throughout Central Asia.


Gamro-dos (감로도)
‘Gamro’ means the sweet teachings of the Buddha and ‘do’ means paintings and pictures. Gamro-dos (감로도) are also called Taenghwas for the spirits of the dead, or Gamrowang-do (Paintings of King Gamro) since it mainly depicts the Sutra of ‘Bulseoluranbunkyung’.(불설우란분경) King Gamro represents the Amitabul(아미타불, Amitahba), the main Buddha of the Western Paradise.


The paintings depict the manner of worship to ancestors and other spirits. The upper portion illustrates the scene of the Amitabul and the heavenly beings appearing before sentient beings at the purgatory, and the scene of a Bodhisattva taking those beings to the Western Paradise (the Pure Land). The bottom portion depicts the many different forms of sufferings in Hell and in the realms of sentient beings.

Byunsang-do(변상도) 
Byunsang-do’ (변상도) are the paintings of the life of the Buddha Seokgamoni (Sakyamuni) and of various Buddhist stories. There are the main subjects; Bonsaeng-dos (본생도) which depict the former lives of the Buddha, Buljeon-dos(불전도), which show the panoramic depiction of his life and Jangeom-dos (장엄도), which feature the Western Paradise. Complicated sutras or profound doctrines are summarized in a painted form. These paintings are used as a means of edification for sentient beings by inspiring them to study the meanings of


Palsang-do (팔상도, Eight Scenes of the Buddha’s Life)


(1)  Scene of the Buddha’s descent from ‘Dosolcheon’ (도솔천, Tusita heaven).
This painting illustrates the Buhhda Seokamoni(Sakyamuni) waiting in Dosolcheon and then descending from heaven to earth as the son of King Shuddhodana Gautama and Queen Maya; Queen Maya dreams of Homyoung Bosal (Bodhisattva Homyoung, 호명보살) riding an elephant and entering her between the right ribs. The King and the Queen listen to the interpretation of the dream from a Brahmin who is an expert in physiognomy. He predicts “A great son will be born. If he renounces the world and embraces a religious life, he will attain perfect Enlightenment and become the Savior of the three realms(삼계, Samgye, San.: triloka).


(2) Scene of the Buddha’s Birth in Lumbini Park
This painting depicts the aspects of nature which are associated with the Buddha’s birth; On a warm spring day, Queen Maya walks up the Lumbini Park with royal ladies in waiting who leave the palace to accompany her. The prince emerges from the right side of his mother who is standing upright and holding a branch of an Ashoka tree. Jeseokcheon (제석천, King Sacra, King of devas) attends the prince’s birth and wraps him in silk brought from the Heaven and all the heavenly kings make offerings of treasures. The prince, immediately after birth, takes seven steps and at each step, a lotus grows out of the ground to receive the Buddha-to-be. He steps from blossom to blossom and stops. With one hand pointing to Heaven and the other pointing to the earth, he exclaims “Above heaven and below heaven (In the heavens and on earth), I alone am the Honored One. (San.: wnaggo ham asmi lokassa). Nine dragons wash the prince with the clean water from their mouth and take the prince on their backs. Asita, an old hermit sage is called in the palace in order to read the physiognomy of the prince.


(3) Scene of Gautama’s Observation outside Four Gates
This scene shows the prince observing all the sufferings



Meoktaenghwa 먹탱화[먹[[[

Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon

Goryeo Buddhist painting of Suwol-Gwaneum-Do
or literally Painting of Water Moon Avalokitevara Bodhisattva     Material : Ink and colors on silk

Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon 鏡神社 419.5 x 254.2cm 




Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon 大德寺 227.9×125.8㎝


Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon 53×86㎝  (Treasure #926)


Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon (Treasure #1426)


Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon


Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon  (Treasure #1286)


Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon  (Treasure #1204)
The paintings named Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon were very popular during the Goryeo Dynasty and the Joseon Dynasty. Though this painting was deeply influenced by the conventions of Goryeo paintings, it has considerable modifications from Joseon techniques and styles.
The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara who is well composed in the center of the painting sits on the auspicious grass above a rocky throne in the waves. He is endowed with one large halo behind his body and one small green halo around his head. He is wearing a splendid crown decorated with lotuses and beautiful jewels. Below is the boy Sudhana paying his respects to Avalokitesvara.
Differing from the Goryeo paintings, the significant characteristics of this painting are the frontal pose, the elongated figure, the small facial features, and the stylized and abstract lines used to depict the robes and the waves. 


Avalokitesvara with Water and Moon 鏡神社 419.5 x 254.2cm



Bulguksa dabotap & seokgatap









Bulguksa dabotap National Treasures 20


Dabotap Pagoda and Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) (Bulguksa Temple’s three-story stone pagoda, National Treasure No. 21) are the two representative pagodas in Korea. The height of the two is the same of 10.4m. The two pagodas stand facing each other at the yard, one in the east and the other in the west, between Hall of Sakyamuni and Jahamun Gate in Bulguksa Temple. The one in the east is Dabotap Pagoda. This pagoda is a representative special-type pagoda, and Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) a representative general-type stone pagoda. The reason of building the two pagodas at the same site is to follow the content of Beophwagyeong (the Lotus Sutra) that the ‘past Buddha’ Dabo Buddha is standing beside the ‘present Buddha’ Sakyamuni to prove that his Buddhist sermon is right.

Bulguksa Temple was founded by Kim Daeseong’s offer in the 10th year (751) of King Gyeongdeok in Silla Period. Samgukyusa (“History of the Three Kingdoms”) says that Kim Daeseong built Seokguram Temple for his parents in his former life and Bulguksa Temple for his present parents. However, the construction of this temple was not finished till he died, and so it was finished afterwards by the Kingdom. After all, the temple was built not for the individual Kim Daeseong but for the Kingdom. Bulguksa Temple can be said to be the materialized Buddhist Elysium, or paradise where the past, present, and future Buddhist monks live. It shows the spirit world of the people in Silla Period very well.

We can easily see that Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) is a 3-story pagoda standing on 2-story platform. But It is difficult to count the number of stories in Dabotap Pagoda. In fact, even experts have confusing opinions, some saying it is 4-story, others saying it is 3-story. However, the uniqueness of Dabotap Pagoda can be found at the structure of each part.

In the whole figure, 2-story rooms as pagoda body stand on the platform, and head decorations are on the top. The planes are cut to be square at the platform, and octagonal at the parts above it. Uniquely, it seems that there were stone staircases with guardrails on the four direction of the platform. But only stone pillars are left on both sides presently. They built the octagonal pagoda body after surrounding square guardrails around it. And they carved octagonal guardrails, bamboo joint-shaped stone pillars, and sixteen pieces of lotus flower design on the pagoda body. The skill is so excellent that we can’t imagine they carved from stones. The head decoration of Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) is a restored one, while that of Dabotap Pagoda almost perfectly remains as it used to be.

This work is a masterpiece that excellently expresses the complicated structure of wooden construction without distraction through novel ideas. The work evidently shows the artistic essence of the United Silla Kingdom in that it has the well-organized structure using squares, octagons, and circles, and in that the length, width and thickness are standardized in every part. The pagoda seems to have been built in 751 when Bulguksa Temple was freshly remodeled with a large scale.

It is unfortunate that Dabotap Pagoda entirely contains the sorrow that the people felt when the Japanese Empire deprived them of the country. The Japanese dismantled and repaired the pagoda around 1925, but they didn’t leave any record about this fact. In the process, sarira, sarira casket and other relics that must have been put into the pagoda all disappeared. And out of four lions that were on the stone staircases of the pagoda, the Japanese Empire robbed us of three lions that must have been in good condition. Though we have long made efforts to retrieve the precious cultural properties, we can’t find their trace yet.


Seokgatap






Bulguksa Samcheungseoktap (Seokgatap) National Treasures 21

Bulguksa Temple’s Samcheungseoktap pagoda (three-story stone pagoda) and Bulguksa Temple’s Dabotap pagoda (National Treasure No. 20) are respectively situated in the east and west of the front yard of the temple’s Hall of Sakyamuni. The reason of building the two pagodas at the same site is to follow the content of Beophwagyeong (the Lotus Sutra) that the ‘past Buddha’ Dabo Buddha is standing beside the ‘present Buddha’ Sakyamuni to prove that his Buddhist sermon is right.

Bulguksa Temple was founded by Kim Daeseong’s offer in the 10th year (751) of King Gyeongdeok in Silla Period. Samgukyusa (History of the Three Kingdoms) says that Kim Daeseong built Seokguram Temple for his parents in his former life and Bulguksa Temple for his present parents. However, the construction of this temple was not finished till he died in December of the 10th year (774) of King Hyegong, and so finished afterwards by the Kingdom. After all, the temple was built not for the individual Kim Daeseong but for the Kingdom. Bulguksa Temple can be said to be the materialized Buddhist Elysium, or paradise where the past, present, and future Buddhist monks live. It shows the spirit world of the people in Silla Period very well.

This pagoda is a stone pagoda in which the 3-story pagoda body stands on the 2-story platform. Gameunsajidongseo 3-story stone pagoda and Goseonsaji 3-story stone pagoda were the beginning and model of the United Silla Kingdom’s stone pagoda style that got to its peak in the middle of 8th century. The 2-story platform was made strong enough to sustain the whole weight of the pagoda. Imitating wooden construction style, the pagoda was made to have stone pillar-shaped carvings at each corner of the upper and lower platform. It is because that this pagoda was remade in 1973, imitating the head decoration of Silsangsa 3-story stone pagoda (treasure No. 37) in Namwon that was made 100 years later than Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda). The pagoda is marked out, being surrounded by stones that have lotus flower designs in every direction. It is separated to stand for the divine place for Buddha’s sarira. The mark makes the pagoda look grander, being a characteristic of the pagoda that cannot be easily found elsewhere.

Since its building, the original figure had been preserved properly, but it is very sorry that the pagoda was damaged by robbers in September of 1966. Afterwards in December of the same year, the pagoda was perfectly reconstructed, and at that time, they found out a square space where Buddha’s sarira had been seated, from the front side of the core of the 2-story pagoda body. Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) is also called ‘Muyeongtap pagoda’ meaning the pagoda doesn’t have a shadow.



Stupas or Pagodas




Stupas or Pagodas








A stupa is a memorial — a symbol of the Buddha, as the principle of enlightenment, pointing indirectly to both the teacher and his teachings.
It is specifically a reminder of his final passing of the Buddha since sometimes it enshrines relics. In the early days, before Buddha statues were enshrined in temple halls, a stupa was the object of worship.
Traditionally, stupas are built in the central area of temples. There are two types of relics enshrined in a stupa: Buddha-sari (physical relics) and Dharma-sari or sutras (the Buddha’s teachings). On the surface of a stupa you will sometimes find carved figures of the Buddha, bodhisattvas or congregated guardians. Occasionally, wind-chimes hang from the corners of its roof and make beautiful sounds when a breeze blows.
A pagoda is the general term in English for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common to Nepal, China, Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia.
Pagodas in Korea were made of wood, earth, brick, stone or other materials.



































Wooden Pagodas






Ssangbongsa Daeungjeon
Ever since Buddhism was first introduced to Korea in the late 4th century, the custom of building wooden pagodas became popular. Until recently, there were only two wooden pagodas remaining, preserved in Korea as cultural heritage objects: the Palsangjeon at the Beopjusa Temple and the Daeungjeon at the Ssangbongsa Temple, both used as Main Halls.

Palsangjeon, a five-story wooden pagoda, at Beopjusa Temple
Palsangjeon, literally, means hall of eight pictures. These eight pictures are of the acts performed by the Buddha in order to save people. The existing Palsangjeon is a square, wooden building with a five-tiered roof, 22.7 meters in height, with a surface area of eight square meters. It stands on a stone platform with an entrance at each of the cardinal directions. There are several structural characteristics to this Pagoda. For example, it has a central pillar running up the middle of the building, an inner frame of four stories in height with a log structure on top, and an outer frame ending at the third story.

The inside of the building is made up of three parts: the place to store the relics of the Buddha, the place to enshrine the statue of the Buddha and Palsangdo, the pictures of the eight scenes and a place for paying homage to Buddha.
All historical records of the Palsangjeon have been lost. Two inscriptions, however, were discovered during major repair work done in 1968. The dates of the inauguration of this building are on the relic container underneath the central pillar, and the other is on the main ridge of the roof. According to the inscription records, the relic was enshrined in 1605 and the roof frame was completed in 1626. The construction period lasted twenty-one years.

Stone Pagodas
There are many stone pagoda remains preserved in Korea. The first stone pagodas were built in the middle of the 6th century after two centuries of building wooden pagodas. The Silla stone pagodas and those of Baekje origin are distinguishable due to the techniques used and the design. They differ in the material used and the tectonic form adopted. In Silla, granite was used and the design was taken from wooden pagodas. In Baekje, andesite alone or mixed with granite was used and the design following this was brick-style masonry. A pagoda is basically divided into three parts: its foundation, body and finial.






Jeongnimsa Five-story Pagoda

The five-story stone pagoda on the site of Jeongnimsa Temple



The five-story stone pagoda at Jeongnimsa Temple was built during the Baekje Period (18B.C. –A.D. 660) along with the stone pagoda on the site of Mireuksa Temple in Iksan-si City. Believed to date back to the early seventh century, it is one of the oldest and most exemplary of the many stone pagodas still existing today.

The five-story pagoda body stands on a single narrow, low pedestal. Pillar stones are fixed in the middle and on the corners of each side of the pedestal. There are pillars at each corner of the body on each story. The roof stones are thin, wide and raised at the ends of the eaves to make them look elegant. From all this, we can guess that this pagoda was built following the design of a wooden building – a main characteristic of this pagoda. The whole figure is very majestic and beautiful and it is particularly prized because it is one of the two remaining stone pagodas from Baekje Period.







Gameunsa Twin Pagodas

The twin three-story stone pagodas on the site of Gameunsa Temple


 
These magnificent twin pagodas, built in the 7th century, are the biggest existing pagodas of their kind in the Gyeongju area. A pair of pagodas of the same size and style is found on the site of Gameunsa Temple. Traditionally, there were two types of temple layout. One was with one Main Hall and one pagoda. The other was first introduced at Gameunsa Temple and consists of twin pagodas for one Main Hall.
The twin pagodas have a three-story body on a two-tier foundation, creating an impression of stability and height. This impression is further increased by the main body of the first story, which is much taller than those of the other stories and a long, piercing mast as the finial. Something to take special notice of is each portion of the two pagodas is comprised of lots of stone pieces instead of a single stone. The pagodas have a carefully balanced ratio of one part to the next, which further increases the impression of dignity and magnificence. When the west pagoda was repaired in 1960, a royal palanquin-shaped relic container was retrieved from the third story.
Of all the pagodas in Korea, the two most representative pagodas at the same site are: the Pagoda of Many Gems and the Three-storey stone Pagoda of Sakyamuni in the world of Humanity at Bulguksa Temple. The reason for building the two pagodas at the same site is to follow the statement found in the Lotus Sutra that the Buddha of the past –Dabo — is standing beside the Buddha of the present — Sakyamuni — to witness the Buddha’s teachings.







Bulguksa Dabotap

The Pagoda of Many Gems at Bulguksa (다보탑, Dabotap)



The Dabotap stands to the right as one faces the Main Hall of the world of Humanity at Bulguksa — the Temple of Buddha Land. “Dabo” means “many Gems,” and the Dabotap is dedicated to the Dabo Yorae — the Buddha of Many Gems. Dabo was a disciple of Sakyamuni who eventually achieved enlightenment. Historically, there are records of a Dabotap being built in China in 732; the pagoda at Bulguksa was built less than twenty years later.

The three-story stone pagoda of Sakyamuni at Bulguksa (석가탑, Seokgatap)
The 8.2 meter high three-story pagoda is considered Korea’s most common stone pagoda and is even pictured on the 10 won coin. Indeed, along with the twin pagodas at Gameunsa, Seokgatap follows the “golden mean” in Silla pagoda architecture. During the restoration work in 1966, a wood-block printing plate containing a section of the Dharani Sutra was found in Seokgatap. This is considered to be the world’s oldest surviving wood-block printing plate.

The brick-shaped three-story stone pagoda on the site of Bunhwangsa Temple (모전석탑, Mojeonseoktap)
The pagoda of Bunhwangsa Temple is the oldest remaining stone pagoda of Silla origin. It was built in the 7th century. It is a stone masonry pagoda built by piling stones that were trimmed with charcoal-grey andesite. cut crudely into bricks. There is a record that the pagoda was originally nine-stories high, but today only three stories are left. Together with the nine-story wooden pagoda of Hwangryongsa Temple, it was built to supplicate the Buddha’s protection of the nation and the Queen’s reign.
This pagoda stands on a square single-story platform made of natural stones with a granite lion at each of the four corners of the platform. The pagoda body is presently only three-stories high and has been made by piling small brick-shaped stones trimmed from charcoal-grey andesite. Compared with the first-story core, it is prominently reduced in size from the second story on. There is a doorway complete with a stone lintel, threshold, doorjamb and two doors on each side of the first level. A pair of Vajrapani, guardians of Buddhism, stands sentinel at each doorway. The roof stone is like a brick pagoda that has staircase-shaped stories at both the upper and the lower part. Only the upper part of the three-story roof stone is square pillar-shaped. There are lotus flowers in full-bloom carved in the granite.






Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda

The ten-story marble pagoda of Gyeongcheonsa Temple



This pagoda was taken to Japan during the Japanese occupation period of Korea and relocated to the Gyeongbokgung Palace in 1960.
According to an inscription on the first story, this pagoda was erected in the 14th century. This 13 meter-high, ten-story pagoda is unusually made of marble, distinguishing itself from other pagodas of Goryeo origin. The three-tiered platform holds the first three stories of the pagoda. They are all cross-shaped with each part going out in the four directions. The next seven stories are square. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and flower designs are sculptured on them. From the fourth story up, each story has railings and hipped-and-gabled roofs, suggestive of a wooden building with a tiled roof. The eaves of the roofs appear to have been influenced by the wooden architecture of the period, which makes them an important object of study for understanding the architecture of that time period.



Dancheong

In Korean, temples and palaces are painted in a particular style called “Dancheong”. 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. Dancheong preserves the wood from insects and the elements and adds glory and richness to the buildings.


The outside eaves, the inside rafters and the ceilings are covered with intricate Dancheong 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, Dancheong was even found on commoners’ home. Now it is limited to temples and palaces as well as some musical instruments.


Buddhist 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.


On 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 Dangun, 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.


Lotuses, 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 enlightenment).


The 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.


If 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.

Buddhist Painting, Dancheong

Buddhist Painting, Dancheong