Pusoksa

     
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Master Uisang was studying in China when secret information was revealed to him. T'ang warlords were planning to attack Shilla, Uisang's beloved homeland. The information came to the young monk through the lovelorn daughter of a high-ranking T'ang official at whose home Uisang was staying. He immediately set out to warn his countrymen. The daughter rushed after him, but was too late, for the ship was disappearing over the horizon. In desperation, the girl flung herself into the sea and drowned. This supreme act of sacrifice transformed her into a dragon which guarded the ship all the way back to Shilla. 

The attack averted, Uisang set himself to the task of searching for the ideal temple site. He found it on Mt. Ponghwangsan, but the villagers refused to vacate the chosen spot. Once again, the dragon appeared, threatening to hurl a massive rock on the village. The people fled and  view of temple the dragon came crashing to the earth and exhaled its last breath. This is the site of the Main Hall of Pusoksa today. To the west you can see a rock, a small portion of the one hurled by the dragon. Therefore, Pusoksa is called Temple of the Floating Stone.

Pusoksa, constructed in 676 CE at the orders of Shilla King Munmu, is a temple which shows the transition period between those originally built in the plains during the period of the Three Kingdoms and those built in the mountains during the later Koryo and Choson periods.

The Main Hall enshrines Amitabha. Originally built in 676, the present structure dates from 1358, one of the oldest wooden buildings in Korea. The foundation is of granite. The columns supporting the roof are fitted with brackets which seem complicated at first but which are actually amazingly simple. The hipped-and-gabled roof is in perfect proportion to the body of the building, giving the hall a unique feeling. Inside, the statue sits in the  image of buddha west facing east because it is an Amitabha, Buddha of the Western Paradise. It is the oldest clay statue in Korea.
To the left of the Main Hall, at the bottom of a steep bluff, lies the legendary floating stone. To the right of the stone is a three-story pagoda behind which is a pavilion dedicated to the Chinese girl who, in the form of a dragon, helped Master Uisang.

Chosadang, a hall for portraits of great masters, lies 100 meters to the northeast of the Main Hall. The building's original frescoes of guardians and gods are the best exisiting examples of Koryo Dynasty wall paintings and are currently being kept in a separate place for safe-keeping. Just under the eaves of Chosadang, there is a tree which sprang from a stick that Uisang put there on his way to India. He is reputed to have foretold that if a tree grew it would never die. And so it is, ever green and blooming after 1,300 years!

Pusoksa has many treasures: the flagpole supports; the Koryo wood-blocks; the pudo, conical stone objects in which the remains of famous monks are kept; the two stone pagodas; and the monument to Master Wonyung, are only some of the wonderful objects which have survived Korea's turbulent history. The stone lantern, which dates from the Unified Shilla Period, is a masterpiece of proportion anddesign.

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