The Monk, The Bird and The Relic.
Korea’s ancient culture is one of honour and beauty, the perfect symbols of these two characteristics are shown in the historic golden temples of Korea; founded in tradition and legend.
The first of these is called the Daejosa Temple, first built in 501 during the Baekje Kingdom. According to legend, a monk was sleeping under a large rock under after praying and dreamt of a large bird with a golden glow; while flapping it’s wings an image of a statue of Avalokitasvara Bodhisattva appeared. These dreams continued for days and the monk spoke with the castle lord, who then recounted the story to King Seong of Baekje. The king took this dream to be a sign and ordered a temple in it’s honour, predicted to take ten years to build, however when the workers became tired it was said that the birds would sing to them and their energy would be revived meaning it only took five years to complete. The temple was then named Daejose meaning: ‘great bird temple’.
The second golden temple is known as the Bulguksa Temple. Originally called 'Hwaeom Bulguksa Temple’, it was built in 528 under the reign of King Beop-Heung’s (514-540) during the Silla Kingdom. The building is a national treasure and home to some of the most important cultural relics of Korean society, including: Dabo-tap, Seokga, Chilbogyo, Cheongun-gyo, the Golden Seated Vairocana Buddhist Figure, the Golden Seated Amita Figure, and Sari-tap, all of which have been put under the protection of the temple.
These two great temples symbolise both the tradition of Korean society and the ability of the civilisation to last the test of time through it’s significance towards the Korean people.