Guksa-am Hermitage
of Ssanggye-sa     쌍계사 국사암
The view looking west from just above the Sanshin-gak on a typically hazy day.  This
famous hermitage of
Ssanggye-sa, a fairly-easy 30-minute walk up from the main area,
was first built in the late Shilla Dynasty.  It is said to occupy an excellent site according to
Korea's
Pungsu-jiri theory -- especially, the Sanshin-gak is ideally situated, angled slightly
to the northwest compared with the Main Hall (see below-right) -- with the slope behind it
being pure wilderness leading up to the western ridge of
Samshin-bong Peak.  The budo
[stone cremains monument] of National Master Jin-gam
(Treasure #380) is located nearby,
granting this temple the name
Guksa-am [National Master/Teacher/Patriarch Hermitage].
The ancient Sacheon-wang-
namu
[Four Heavenly Kings
Tree] stands guard against
bad fortune over the entrance-
way, replacing the usual
Sa-
cheonwang-mun
Gate.  It's
an Elm tree, still bare in April.
excellent sign-board reads R-to-L:
San-shin-gak [Mountain-Spirit Shrine]
SIX Lanterns-of-Buddha's-Enlightenment
dignify the steep stairway to the Sanshin-gak
-- extremely unusual, granting very high status
The San-shin taenghwa painting found inside is simply stunning,
one of the best modern ones I've found -- they just keep getting better!
It features a matronly woman, following the celebrated tradition of eastern Jiri-san, and she holds a
ginseng root in her right hand and a
bullocho in her left -- a perfect yin-yang balance of mountain-
longevity (see my book for detailed explanation).  Two tigers, quite fierce and realistic.  The three
dongja attendants (2 boys & 1 girl, also making balance) offer myriad other symbols of health, fertility
and status.  The background is sumptuous and excellent, including peaches-of-immortality, flowers,
suseok rocks, more bullocho and a pair of blue-yellow birds -- see the detail-shots here below: