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East Stupa of Yeongoksa Temple, Gurye

구례 연곡사 동 승탑 ( 求禮 鷰谷寺 東 僧塔 )

Heritage Search Detail
Classification National Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties East Stupa of Yeongoksa Temple, Gurye
Quantity 1 stupa
Designated Date 1962.12.20
Age Unified Silla
Address Yeongoksa Tempple, 806-16, Piagol-ro, Toji-myeon, Gurye-gun, Jeollanam-do

Built to enshrine the Artifact of an eminent monk in the eastern part of Yeongoksa Temple, this stupa consists of three parts – base, body, and finial – that are basically octagonal and are set up on a square stone foundation. The temple housing the stupa had been known as a center for Zen practice until the early Goryeo Period (918-1392) as demonstrated by two more stupas, one (Treasure No. 154) built to honor the Buddhist Monk Soyo and the other (Treasure No. 54) standing east of the temple. Of the three, the East Stupa has the most beautiful, elegant shape.
The base of the stupa consists of three parts: the lower, middle, and upper bases. The first is double-tiered and is carved with dragons and lions surrounded by clouds, whereas the second is carved with an encircling band and the Eight Deva Guardians. The upper base is also double-tiered and is carved with lotus petals, pillars, and Kalavinka, the imaginary bird of immortality inhabiting the Buddhist paradise.
The main body of the stupa has borders carved on all of its faces and contains incense burners as well as the Four Guardian Kings, who are protectors of the Buddhist law, carved in relief, although the carving skills are not excellent. The roof stone is elaborately carved with rafters and tiles, including decorative roof-end tiles. The finial consists of phoenixes with open wings and lotus blossom.
While there is no clear evidence, the stupa has been believed to be a funerary monument set up to honor State Preceptor Doseon. There had been an attempt to smuggle it to Tokyo Imperial University when Korea was under the Japanese colonial rule (i.e., 1910-1945), but such attempt failed. The base is comparatively higher, but all the other elements maintain perfect proportion and stability. These, together with the excellent carving skills used to decorate it, make it a masterpiece representing the stupas of the late Unified Silla.