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National Treasure 5

Twin Lion Stone Lantern of Beopjusa Temple, Boeun
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Classification National Treasure 5
Name of Cultural Properties Twin Lion Stone Lantern of Beopjusa Temple, Boeun
Quantity 1 lantern
Designated Date 1962.12.20
Age Unified Silla Period
Address Beopjusa Temple, 379, Beopjusa-ro, Sokrisan-myeon, Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do
This stone lantern standing between Daeungjeon and Palsangjeon Halls in Beopjusa Temple was set up during the Unified Silla Period (676-935).

The lantern is widely loved for its unique appearance and is known as Korea’s oldest existing stonework carved with a lion. The stone lantern features a pair of lions standing on their hind legs on an octagonal base, facing each other, and supporting the upper stone with their front legs and snouts.

Both the base and the upper stone are decorated with carved lotus; with abundant manes and muscular bodies and legs rendered in a realistic manner, the lions are now widely regarded as the finest carvings of lion produced before the modern period. The stone containing the light chamber is octagonal and comparatively high, with four windows through which light shines.

The roofstone covering the light chamber is marked by eight angle rafters with gently raised corners displaying no particular ornamentation. The stone lantern, presumed to have built in 720 when Silla was under the rule of King Seongdeok (r. 702-737), has a majestic appearance with perfect proportion between a comparatively large roofstone and the base, which also has a considerable size.

Considering the fact that most of the remaining Unified Silla stone lanterns have an octagonal pillar, the use of two lions instead of a single pillar to support the lantern’s upper part including the light chamber should have been a bold artistic experiment.

The lantern would soon generate a lot of copies not only in the Unified Silla Period but also the periods following it.

It is one of the two -- the other being the Stone Lantern of the Four Guardian Kings (Treasure No. 15) also standing in Beopjusa Temple -- representing the stone lanterns of Unified Silla.