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Wooden Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Triad and Ten Underworld Kings of Cheonggoksa Temple, Jinju
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Classification Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties Wooden Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Triad and Ten Underworld Kings of Cheonggoksa Temple, Jinju
Quantity 23
Designated Date 2010.12.21
Age Joseon Period
Address Gyeongsangnam-do Jinju-si

In Cheonggoksa Temple, statues of Buddhist deities related to judgment and hell, such as Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and the Ten Underworld Kings, that are normalized found in other temples, in Myeongbujeon Hall, are housed in Eopgyeongjeon Hall. Twenty-three total statues are on display in Eopgyeongjeon Hall. Ksitigarbha is flanked by Domyeongjonja (Daoming) and Mudokgwiwang (Innoxious King of Ghosts), forming a triad of a sort. On the left and right sides of the triad stand other figures including the Ten Underworld Kings, Kings of Ghosts, judges, Brahma, and Indra. According to the prayer scroll found inside the seated statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, these statues were made in 1657. As a general rule, in this type of judgment-related statue groups, the statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva tends to be much larger in size, as well as look more majestic, than two other members of the triad and others making up his retinue. Even though a seated statue, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is often taller than others portrayed standing. But, in the case of the Seated Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva of Cheonggoksa Temple, its size is not measurably larger than that of Domyeongjonja or Mudokgwiwang, or the Ten Underworld Kings. All statues in Eopgyeongjeon Hall have a round face with long, almond-shaped eyes. Their noses are a high and well-defined bridge. Their small mouth, meanwhile, gives them a childlike air. The statues have a quite large head, compared to the size of their body. The heads of Mudokgwiwang, the Ten Underworld Kings and their retinues appear particularly huge, as they are surmounted by tall headgears, so that the height of the head combined with the headgear represents nearly one-third of their total height. Their body seems voluminous, although the rounded shoulders are quite narrow. The seated statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva has wide knees, placed in a comparatively elevated position vis-à-vis the throne and appears, for this reason, stable and balanced. The Ten Underworld Kings, Brahma, and Indra, represented seated on a chair, have their torso leaned against the back of the chair, in various positions that are all very natural. The Seated Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s robe lets the top garment, worn inside, appear at the chest level, and the top edge of the garment forms a straight horizontal line running across the chest. The drapery folds, in the upper body, are rendered by a few simple, straight lines in pronounced relief, and the folds in the lower body are in curved lines that are decorative yet thick enough to effectively translate volume and depth. Similarly decorative curves are also used to render the folds in the outer vestment of Domyeongjonja and the folds over the lap of the Ten Underworld Kings. In contrast to the facial features and the bodily proportions that give these statues a childlike air, their hands are highly delicate and almost feminine with long and slim fingers. The twenty-three statues were carved by a group of monk sculptors, including Inyeong, Tanjun, Jibyeon, Hakyeom, Seomyeong, Beopyul, Jongtan, and Seonu. No other works by these sculptors, meanwhile, are known outside the statues of Eopgyeongjeon Hall in Cheonggoksa Temple. These twenty-three statues, completely devoid of elements pointing to the influence of, or affinity with, other 17th-century Buddhist sculptures or sculptors, are highly original and singular in their style. They are furthermore great pieces of sculptural work that are aesthetically impressive. Some of these statues have been already designated as cultural heritage objects. The Wooden Seated Indra and Brahma of Cheonggoksa Temple (Treasure No. 1232) are the only surviving Joseon sculptures representing these Buddhist deities, as well as two excellent pieces of sculptural art.