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National Treasure

Portable Shrine of Wooden Buddha Triad at Songgwangsa Temple, Suncheon
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Classification National Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties Portable Shrine of Wooden Buddha Triad at Songgwangsa Temple, Suncheon
Quantity 1 item
Designated Date 1962.12.20
Age Unified Silla Period
Address Jeollanam-do Suncheon-si

In Korea, devoted Buddhists used to carry around a miniature statue of Buddha in a portable shrine for protection against evil forces. Although there is no historical record about this particular portable shrine, it is known that Jinul, one of the most eminent Buddhist monks of Silla, brought it with him on his way back to Korea from China.
This portable shrine consists of three compartments linked by hinges. When the compartments are closed, they form an octagonal box with an oval-shaped top. It is 13 cm high and 17 cm wide when fully opened. The central hall houses a statue of the Principal Buddha sitting on a pedestal decorated with a lotus design, while each side hall enshrines a Bodhisattva statue. The Principal Buddha in the center is wearing a robe draped over both shoulders, and two lines of creases are carved on the robe. His right hand is raised up to the shoulder, while his left hand rests on his lap, holding a symbolic object. The left hall enshrines a statue of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, who shows mercy to mankind through knowledge and action, sitting on a pedestal carved with an elephant design. This statue is flanked by a statue of a child on the left and a statue of a lion on the right. In the right hall, the statue of Manjusri Bodhisattva, who symbolizes wisdom and intellect, stands on a pedestal carved with a lion design, holding a lotus flower. This statue is flanked by a small statue of a child.
The intricately carved details of this portable shrine attest to the masterful skill of the sculptor. Overall the decoration and facial expression show the cultural influence of India, whereas Chinese techniques can be seen in its style and structure. This is one of the rare examples of a portable shrine discovered in Korea.