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Buddhist Stele of Amitabha with Inscription of "Gichuk Year"

기축명아미타불비상 ( 己丑銘阿彌陀佛碑像 )

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Classification Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties Buddhist Stele of Amitabha with Inscription of "Gichuk Year"
Quantity 1 stele
Designated Date 1963.01.21
Age Unified Silla
Address Cheongju National Museum 143, Myeongam-ro, Sangdang-gu, Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do

This is one of the 3 pieces of bisang (images carved in relief on a stone monument) at Biamsa Temple. It is different because the rock becomes thinner and curved towards the top. It is a large stone in the shape of a ship, with a carving on the front and a four-line inscription engraved on the back. On the front, figures of Buddha and a Bodhisattva are carved to look as if they change frequently, almost like a scene in paradise. The bottom is surrounded by lotus flowers forming a pedestal for the statue, with a railing and stairs on top. On top of this a pond is depicted by a wave pattern with lions facing each other on either side of the railing. There is a large lotus at the center of the pond with Amitabha Buddha sitting on it as the principal image. Standing Buddha statues are arranged on each side using strict symmetrical methods. The shoulders of the principle image statue are covered by thick clothing. The shape of the right hand is unclear, but the left hand is held under the chest that has a ‘卍’ engraved on it. On each side of the principle figure stand Bodhisattva figures, and between them is the upper body of Arhat, a disciple of Buddha who has attained Nirvana. Beside the Bodhisattva figures is the fierce spirit Yachasang holding the horoscope high in one hand and beside that is the guardian spirit Inwangsang. Above the principal figure are five Buddha images carved in a half-circle formation and seven more are carved above these. Between each of these images of Buddha are leaves, tree branches, marbles and decorations which denote paradise. It is estimated that this statue dates from later than the statue with inscription of the cyclic year of Gyeyu at this Temple, around the 9th year of the reign of King Sinmun (689) of the Silla Dynasty. It can be taken as a good example of the work of the early Unified Silla period, with a mixture of artistic elements from the Three Kingdoms and the Chinese Tang period. The religion of the time is evident from the use of Amitabha Buddha as the principle figure.