Hermitage of Four great Sage-monks
in the Central-Southwest Sector of Jiri-san
|The views from Saseong-am towands the north, across the Seomjin River to the Hwaeom-sa / Nogo-dan Peak area.
|The Sanshin-gak [Mountain-spirit Shrine] is tucked amidst the rough crags.
It faces NE and has no signboard on it, both unusual features.
In the fine Shin-jung painting of the Main Hall, San-shin delicately holding a sprig of bullocho and an
open-mouthed roaring Yong-wang are found over in front of the Left Bodhisattva. Having the Ilwol-shin
[Sun-Moon Spirits] as officials close together facing each other (below) is unique, as far as I've ever seen!
The excellent new San-shin painting follows traditional motifs. The young-boy-dongja attendant
holds a natural-branch hiking-staff with a root tied on it, and a basket of bullocho-mushrooms-of-
immortality, while the princess-style dongja-girl holds fruits of fecundity. The crouching tiger
stalking across the front of the main San-shin figure lends a lively dynamic element. The
background has a sense of perspective, but few extra symbolic-elements. Details are below:
Saseong-am is dramatically perched near the 531-meter summit of O-san, just SE of central Gurye Town and just
south of Jiri-san's Nogo-dan area (just across the Seomjin-gang River) -- your have to drive or hike up a steep dirt
road to reach this hermitage, but its sacred features and the outstanding views it offers make it well-worth the effort.
This Hermitage is said to have been originally founded as Osan-sa in 544 CE by Yeon-gi-josa, the missionary-
monk who also established Hwaeom-sa and Yeon-gok-sa just north of this site. Records say that both Great
Master Wonhyo-daesa and National Master Doseon-guksa practiced the Dharma in retreat on these cliffs when
they visited this area. Hermitage buildings were reconstructed under supervision of National Meditation-Master
Jin-gak-seonsa (1178-1234), and after his passing disciples renamed it Saseong-am [Four Sages Hermitage]
after the four great master-monks who had stayed here: Yeon-gi, Wonhyo, Doseon and Jin-gak.
|The precarious-on-high-pillars cliffside Main Hall (above) covers a medium-sized standing-Amibtha-Buddha intaglio incised-
carving (below) -- rare in Korean art. Some say it was made by Doseon-guksa in the 9th Century, but nothing about it is certain.
|The grand view from Saseong-am to the NE, across the Seomjin River to Gurye Town and on up the
Seoshi-cheon Stream Valley (towards the Cheoneun-sa area and the Jiri-san Hot Springs area).
|KNTO photo from a 2007 calendar
This carving is almost all that remained of the historic hermitage after it fell into ruin
during the Joseon Dynasty. Upon reconstruction during the 1980s it became the back
wall of the new Main Hall. Donor-members sponsor the small Buddhas in front of it.
|the NE flank of O-san Mountain [530.8m] viewed from just across the bridge over the Seomjin-gang River to Gurye Town
|Closer up, as you just begin to drive up the steep road through dense forest, Saseong-am is clearly visible at the peaks.