the Korean tripitaka, a collection of Buddhist scriptures carved from more than 80,000 wooden printing blocks and reputed to be the oldest and largest extant collection of its kind, will be open to the public from the end of the month, announced the Korean temple housing sacred artifacts. According to local media, this will be the first time the Korean tripitaka, registered in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, has been accessible to the general public since its creation in the 13th century.
the Korean tripitaka (Kor: 대장경 [Palman Daejanggyeong]) was carved on 81,258 wooden printing boards in the 13th century. The wooden blocks are now stored at Haein-sa (해인사), one of the main temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, a school of Seon (Zen) Buddhism and the largest Buddhist order in South Korea.
“As it was created with the desire to overcome the national crises of the past, we decided that the same message of hope could be applied to our current national plight posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jingak Sunim , a senior monk from Haein. -sa, at a press conference in Seoul on June 3. (The herald of Korea)
The temple said public tours will be offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday starting June 19. Visits, lasting 50 minutes, will be limited to a maximum of 20 visitors per time slot. Online booking is available on the official Haein-sa website.
the Korean tripitaka is much wider than the traditional Pali Tipitaka or Pali Canon, and includes a plethora of additional texts and other content, such as Buddhist travelogues, Sanskrit and Chinese dictionaries, and biographies of notable female and male monks. Carefully engraved in 81,352 wooden printing blocks, with no known errors in the 52,330,152 Hanja or Chinese logograms, works on the Korean tripitaka began in 1237, during the time of the Goryeo kingdom (918-1392), and was completed in 1248. Korea designated the Korean tripitaka a national treasure in 1962, and the collection was inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2007.
King Gojong (고종; r. 1213-59), who commissioned the work, believed that the Korean tripitaka would offer protection to Goryeo and drive out the Mongol invaders. Following the loss of the original Tripitaka Under fire during the Mongol invasion of the kingdom in 1232, Gojong ordered the wooden blocks to be redone, appealing to the compassion and authority of the Buddha. Woodcuts are now widely recognized by Buddhist scholars for their exceptional precision, superior quality, and artistic merit.
In 2000, after nine years of work, the whole Korean tripitaka has been digitized for their preservation. Efforts are also underway to transfer the texts to copper plates to serve as a physical backup.
Heian-sa, first built in AD 802, is one of the three main Buddhist temples in South Korea, each representing one of the three Triple Gem gems: Tongdo-sa in Gyeongsang Province of South represents Buddha, Haein-sa represents Dharma or Buddhist teachings, while Songgwang-sa in Southern Jeolla Province represents sangha.
the Korean tripitaka has been housed in Heian-sa, which stands on the slopes of Mount Gaya in Gayasan National Park, South Gyeongsang Province, since 1398. The Buddhist Mountain Temple and the two 15th-century Janggyeong Panjeon, purpose-built depot buildings that house the Tripitaka, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
According to 2015 census data, the majority of South Korea’s population (56.1%) has no religious affiliation. Christians make up the largest religious segment of the population at 27.6 percent, while Buddhists make up 15.5 percent.
Haein-sa (Official site)
Tripitaka Koreana to open to the public for the first time (Yonhap News Agency)
The Tripitaka Koreana will open its doors to the public for the first time (The herald of Korea)
Haeinsa Janggyeong Panjeon temple, the custodians of the wooden blocks of the Tripitaka Koreana (UNESCO)
Print of woodcuts from Tripitaka Koreana and various Buddhist scriptures (UNESCO Memory of the World)
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