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National Treasure 45

Clay Seated Buddha of Buseoksa Temple, Yeongju
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Classification National Treasure 45
Name of Cultural Properties Clay Seated Buddha of Buseoksa Temple, Yeongju
Quantity 1 statue
Designated Date 1962.12.20
Age Middle Goryeo Period
Address Gyeongsangbuk-do Yeongju-si

This 2.78-meter-tall clay sculpture of a seated Buddha is enshrined in Muryangsujeon Hall in Buseoksa Temple. The statue is the oldest and largest of all Buddha statues made by the technique of forming an image by putting clay paste onto a wooden framework.
The statue features a plump face with thick lips and pointed nose, creating a rather grave expression. The robe is draped from the left shoulder, thereby exposing the right shoulder; it has many parallel folds as it covers the knees. The technique of expressing the robe folds is very similar to that used for the Iron Seated Vairocana of Dopiansa Temple (National Treasure No. 63), suggesting that this clay Buddha was also made during the early Goryeo Period (918~1392).
The Buddha exhibits a symbolic hand gesture of touching the earth with his right hand, revealing the intention of Shakyamuni to fight against the demon Mara. Still, the fact that the statue is enshrined in Geungnakjeon, or Hall of Supreme Bliss -- a Buddhist paradise ruled by Amitabha Buddha -- and a record engraved on State Preceptor Wonyung’s Monument of Buseoksa Temple, indicating that the temple enshrined an Amitabha image, show that this Buddha is Amitabha. The hands of the current statue exhibiting a demon-expelling gesture are believed to have been made during the Joseon Period when it was repaired.
Behind the Buddha’s body and head are halos made separately of wood and decorated with flame patterns along the edge to represent the holy radiance emanating from Buddha. The halos are circular in shape and heavily adorned with floral designs, with traces showing that miniature Buddhas had been attached to them.
The grave rather than benign look and the parallel folds of the robe display stylized aspects; still, the fact that it is a rare clay statue made by exploiting elaborate sculptural techniques gives it considerable historical and cultural value. The elements, which still vividly show the influence of the Unified Silla, reveal that it was a work of the early Goryeo Period.