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Daeungjeon Hall of Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju

경주 불국사 대웅전 ( 慶州 佛國寺 大雄殿 )

Heritage Search Detail
Classification Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties Daeungjeon Hall of Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju
Quantity 1
Designated Date 2011.12.30
Address 385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do

□ Location and Historical and Cultural Background: The south-facing Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju is located at the western foot of Tohamsan Mountain, the fabled Eastern Mountain of the Silla Dynasty. As the topography of the temple is marked as low west and south, and high east and north, its stone elevation was built in harmony. The temple is framed by huge corridors into which Jahamun Gate, Daeungjeon Hall, and Museoljeon Hall are built. The transepts at the east and west of Daeungjeon Hall connect to the east and west corridors. Jwagyeongnu Pavilion is located in the eastern corner of the south corridor, while Beomyeongnu Pavilion sits in its western corner. Cheongungyo and Baegungyo Bridges, both of which lead to Daeungjeon Hall, are situated to the south of Jahamun Gate. □ History and Architectural Characteristics: ○ History - References to Bulguksa Temple appear in a number of important ancient documents including Samguk yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), Bulguksa gogeumchanggi (Records of Bulguksa Temple), and Daeungjeon jungchangdanhwakgi (Records of Construction and Repair Works of Daeungjeon Hall) among others. According to Samguk yusa, construction of the temple was begun in 751, the tenth year of the reign of King Gyeongdeok of the Silla Dynasty, by Prime Minister Kim Daeseong and completed on December 2, 774 (the 10th year of the reign of King Hyegong), shortly after Kim’s death. According to Bulguksa gogeumchanggi, Daeungjeon Hall was repaired in 1436 (the 18th year of the reign of King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty), in 1490 (the 21st year of the reign of King Seongjong), and again in 1564 (the 19th year of the reign of King Myeongjong). However, the building was burned to the ground in 1593 (the 26th year of the reign of King Seonjo) during the Japanese Invasion of Korea. Thereafter, various restoration works were conducted over a period of many years – including reconstruction in 1659 (the 10th year of the reign of King Hyojong), roof repair work in 1677 and replacement of the western column in 1708 (the 3rd and 34th years of the reign of King Sukjong), and roof repair works in 1729, 1730, and 1731 (the 5th ~ 7th years of the reign of King Yeongjo). The hall was reconstructed in 1765 (the 41st year of the reign of King Yeongjo), while the paintwork was completed in 1767 (the 43rd year of King Yeongjo’s reign). In addition, the production of the Buddha Triad and the Buddhist Painting work at Daeungjeon Hall were completed in 1769 (the 45th year of King Yeongjo’s reign). One and a half centuries later, during the Japanese occupation, the hall was restored by the Japanese Government-General of Korea between 1918 and 1925, and further renovation work was conducted between 1934 and 1935. In the 1970s, the building was reconstructed yet again at the order of former president Park Chung-hee. ㅇ Characteristics: The Dabotap Pagoda in the east and the Three-story Stone Pagoda in west, as well as the octagonal stone lantern exhibiting the typical style of the Unified Silla Period, stand in front of Daeungjeon Hall at Bulguksa Temple. Daeungjeon Hall measures five kan (a unit of measurement referring to the distance between two columns) at the front and five kan at the sides, and rests on a long rectangular stone platform. This half-hipped roof building was built with the dapo bracket system (brackets placed on and between the pillars), a common style dating from the later period of the Joseon Dynasty. The projecting brackets supporting the cornice at the top of the pillar are sculpted with plant, flower, and phoenix designs, and splendidly decorated with a dragon head sculpture. The main area at the front of the hall is installed with four-paired floral doors, side and outer rooms, two-paired floral doors, and doors at the sides, with three-paired door with small frames. At the rear, the main area of the hall is installed with four-paired doors with 井-shaped frames, a side room, walls without doors, and an outer room with sliding doors with 井-shaped frames. The stereobate of the hall has corner and supporting pillar stones with a cover stone on top, following the typical construction style of the Unified Silla Period. This is also a staircase in the middle of each of the four sides of the stereobate. The side faces of the handrails of the staircases are engraved with triangular patterns. The hall’s ceiling, which has a high central part, was built in tiered style. □ Value of the Treasure: Daeungjeon Hall of Bulguksa Temple is an invaluable asset due to the preservation of its original stereobate, stone lantern, and the records of its restoration and painting work. Thanks to an internal structure marked by an absence of columns, beautifully decorated exterior and interior, splendid sculpting techniques, and various designs of the projecting brackets at the top of the pillar and the dragon heads, Daeungjeon Hall is regarded as one of the most magnificent Buddhist halls in Korea.