|Is this excellent stupa behind Yeongok-sa
the actual budo of the great national
Doseon-guksa [National Master Tao-Abundance]
(826-898) is one of Korean history's most fascinating
characters. He lived right at the end of the Unified
Shilla Dynasty as it collapsed, providing prophetic
inspiration and instruction for the foundation of the
subsequent Goryeo Dynasty. He was a great
Buddhist master of meditation of the Seon [Zen]
tradition, but the main part of his fame is derived from
his creation of Pungsu-jiri Geomancy and conceptual
designation of the Baekdu-daegan as the energetic
spine of the Korean Peninsula. He is said to have
made many accurate predictions of the future changes
in the courses of events for leading individuals and for
the Korean nation, and is therefore regarded as a
founder-patron-spirit by modern Korean fortune-tellers.
My biography of him can be found on this page.
The excellent granite budo funerary Stupa up behind Yeongok-
sa's Main Hall has long been rumored to be his; there are no
authentic written records, so we don't know -- there's no proof
that it is, no evidence that it isn't. No doubt, it's architecturally
magnificent and worthy of him. Excellent garden figures are
relief-carved on the body, below the detailed faux-wooden-roof.
Note the unique flying birds on the
elaborate lotus-wheel filial, topped
by a Flaming Pearl of Wisdom.
Below the octagonal lower-body
displaying more heavenly guardian
figures, the 12-sided base is
carved with excellent naturalistic
depictions of the 12 auspicious
Animals of the Oriental Zodiac, a
Shilla-dynasty motif quite rare to
find outside the ancient capital
Gyeongju. It was mostly used on
tombs and other monuments for
those of royal rank
-- and are found on one of the pagodas in the courtyard of neighboring Hwaeom-sa -- the western of a
pair that is recorded in the temple history to have been built by Doseon-guksa. This feature is unique
on an early funerary stupa, and is a touch that would 'fit' to indicate it's really Doseon's Stupa.
This is all that remains of the historical
monument which has always stood next to
that stupa -- the biseok standing black
stone engraved with Chinese characters is
missing, and the capstone curiously has no
inscription on its blank front panel, nobody
seems to know what happened to it -- if it
was shattered in war or carried away by
thieves -- this is the main reason why we
can't know for sure whether this is Doseon-
guksa's stupa or not.
The dragons-in-clouds capstone and the
dragon-turtle base are both excellent and
unique in design & artistry. The capstone
(below right) is topped with a Flaming Pearl
of Wisdom (rare) similar to the woman was
above but larger and with more serrated
flames. The turtle's dragonish head & face
are top-notch examples of this blended
motif, fairly soon after its early appearance.
The turtle's shell-back has large bird's wings across
it -- paralleling the remarkable birds on the finial of
as I know -- and it's a beautiful fantasy in stone.