Friday, May 13, 2016

White Buddha of Okcheon-am Hermitage

In a modern-day temple-structured overhang and with its back to the north and a mighty rise of mountain wall is the rock-carved seated Buddha of Okcheon-am Hermitage. Commonly called "Buddhist rock" or the "white Buddha of Bodogak Pavilion", it has also been referred to as the "white-robed Avalokitesvara" since the end of the Joseon period. 

This is the famous Buddhist monument in Seoul to which King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, is said to have prayed to before he moved the capital to Seoul as well as the monument to which the wife of Heungsoon Daewongun prayed for her son, King Gojong. 

The 5-meter tall statue is sculptured in relief on the surface of a huge rock and protected by a wooden structure attached to a rock built to protect the statue from acid rain and weather exposure in general. Like other white Buddhas the white coloration has worn off over the years so now is touched up to depict the same greatness of spirituality a white Buddha, typically from the Goryeo period, is supposed to embody. In relief, the statue wears a high headdress with horn-like bands decorated with luxurious floral tassels, a trend that was popular post-Goryeo period. The image boasts an oval-shaped face with clear-cut features and benign expression, and the body of the statue projects strength and an overall powerful physique which reputes the statue as a representative masterpiece of the 12th and 13th century, Goryeo period.

Seoul Tangible Cultural Property No. 17 (location in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul)

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