|Buyeo Town's Heungseong-san
Amazing Goryeo Standing Maitreya Statue
nationally-designated Treasure #217
|what he's been staring out for all these years...
My gal standing in front of it shows its immense size -- one of the largest granite sculptures ever made in
Korean history. It was carved and erected sometime in the middle of the Goryeo Dynasty (11th-12th Cen),
but no records now exist to tell us more, or by who or why. The inscriptions on the boulders next to it do not
help -- they are religious invocations and appear to have been added in the early Joseon era (15th-16th Cen).
Thi is simply called the "Daejo-sa Mireuk-bul Ipsang" [Great Foundation Temple Maitreya-Buddha Standing
Statue], and represents the Future Buddha, who will come at some future time and grant a higher level of
enlightened salvation to all humankind. Monumental statues of him (stone or bronze, anciet to modern), built
from intense desires for him to manifest soon, are common throughout the former Baekje Kingdom area (the
west-coastal regions from Seoul down to South Jeolla), but not much in Korea's eastern and northern areas.
Other notable examples include nearby Gwanchok-sa, and Beobju-sa, Geumsan-sa, Bongeun-sa & Unju-sa.
His pagoda-hat is relatively crude, but otherwise the carving is refined and excellent, outstanding in the genre.
I find the face to be especially evocative -- handsome, serene, powerful and wise. Quite a discovery to make
in August 2010 -- I had not even known about this, all these years! (it seems that this temple was only recently
reconstructed, and a paved road built to it -- and it becomes my new favorite of the type.
The veneration-hall now built for it is in the Jeokmyeol-bogung style started by Master Jajang in 640 CE --
only a window above the back-wall altar, so that worshippers sitting/kneeling on the floor are looking directly
up at it -- traditionally used for pagodas containing Buddha's sarira relics but increasingly employed for special
Buddha or Bodhisattva statues. Like the Main Hall, it is entitled Mireuk-bojeon [Maitreya Treasure-Hall].
|unusual Shinseon [spirit-immortal] paintings on the side-walls of that shrine