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Stele of Buddhist Monk Gwangja at Taeansa Temple, Gokseong

곡성 태안사 광자대사탑비 ( 谷城 泰安寺 廣慈大師塔碑 )

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Classification Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties Stele of Buddhist Monk Gwangja at Taeansa Temple, Gokseong
Quantity 1 stele
Designated Date 1963.01.21
Age King Gwangjong of Goryeo
Address Taeansa Temple 622-71, Taean-ro, Jukgok-myeon, Gokseong-gun, Jeollanam-do

This memorial stone dedicated to Yunda, a great Buddhist monk in the Goryeo Dynasty, was built in the precinct of the Taeansa Temple. Yunda was the second monk to bring prosperity to this temple. He was born in 864 (the 4th year of the reign of King Gyeongmun of Silla) and became a monk when he was 8 years old. After traveling the country, he practiced asceticism in Dongnisan Mountain. Thereafter, he received Buddhist commandments at the Gayagapsa Temple. He came back to Dongnisan Mountain to serve as a Buddhist monk. When he passed away at the age of 82 in 945 (the 2nd year of the reign of King Hyejong), the king of Goryeo gave him the posthumous title of 'Gwangja'. The main part of the memorial stone had been destroyed and only some of the pieces still remain today. The capstone of the memorial stone is laid on the pedestal of a short-necked stone turtle. The expression of the head and patterns engraved in the front are very realistic. The base of the memorial stone is engraved on its back. It’s hard to make out whether the patterns on both sides are vines or clouds. A python head sculpture is on all the four edges of the capstone. The front side is engraved with geungnakjo, an imaginary bird believed to live in one of the Buddhist heavens. This kind of the bird sculptures are also shown in the East Stupa (National Treasure No. 53) and the North Stupa (National Treasure NO. 54), which are both in the precinct of the Yeongoksa Temple. With various kinds of sculptures, decorations were made to added more diversity to the weak points of each part. Although it’s hard to make out what was written in the epitaph since the memorial stone is broken into pieces and a majority of the pieces are missing, a full version of it was found in a book titled ‘Survey of the Memorial Stones of Joseon’. It records how Yunda became a monk and learned/spread Buddhism. It also records a dialog of questions and answers on Buddhism between Yunda and King Gongyang as well as that he was treated with reverence by King Taejo of Goryeo. In the book, the original inscription on the memorial stone is underlined. This record also serves as a proof that the art of calligraphy was far more advanced and refined than that of the Unified Silla period. It was built in 950 (the 1st year of the reign of King Gwangjong), five years after Yunda died.