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Coordinates: 35°43′22″N 127°03′11″E / 35.722731°N 127.053032°E / 35.722731; 127.053032

Yukgak Tachung Soktap, Seokdeung and Daejangjeon (front to back) Treasures at Geumsansa
Korean name
Hangul 금산사
Revised Romanization Geumsansa
McCune–Reischauer Kŭmsansa

Geumsansa (literally "Golden Mountain Temple") is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It stands on the slopes of Moaksan in Gimje City, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea.[1][2]


The initial Geumsan temple was built during the reign of King Beop of Baekje (r. 599–600 AD). More precisely, some sources say "established 600", other say "build 599". The 1635 compilation, Geumsansa sajeok (hanja:金山寺事蹟, Chronicle of Geumsan Temple) records that the temple was established in 600 AD by Baekje (18 BC–660 AD), one of the three kingdoms that ruled the Korean peninsula during this period. The year indicates both the second year of King Beop's short-lived reign (r. 599–600)[3] and the first year of the next ruler and his son, King Mu's reign (r. 600–641).[4] In the document, King Beop who was a faithful Buddhist ordered a royal edict to prohibit killing of any living creatures in 599 and ordained 38 Buddhist monks.[1][2] On the other hand, according to Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea,[5] Buddhapia, a South Korean Buddhist portal site[6] and others, Geumsasa was built in 599, the first year of King Beop.[7] Regardless of the founding date, it was assumed not to have been a significant temple in the scope of its scale and character.[1]

From 722 in King Gyeongdeok of Silla's reign to 766 in King Hyegong's reign, Geumsansa was rebuilt and greatly expanded[1] under the direction of the Master Jinpyo. According to the tradition, Master Jinpyo had a vision of Maitreya (the Buddha of the future) and received a book on divination in two rolls and 189 divination sticks from Maitreya. Therefore Jinpyo instituted a statue of the Maitreya to be enshrined in the main hall which became the basis of the Beopsang Buddhist school.[1] As a result of the expansion, Geumsansa became the headquarters for practicing the Maitreya faith during the Unified Silla period (668-935).[6][7]

After the expansion, Gyeon Hwon (r. 900-935) who is the founder of Later Baekje (892–936) protected the temple. Although it is said that he issued orders to carry out partial repairs for Geumsansa, there is no certainty over whether the repairs actually occurred.[1][2][6] Through the irony of fate, Gyeon Hwon was held captive at Geumsansa when his son, Prince Singeom usurped the throne.[7] In 1079 as the Royal Preceptor Hyedeok was appointed as the head master of Geumsasa, he completely renovated the temple by erecting various additional sanctuaries. This led to Geumsansa's era of cultural blooming.[6][7]

During the first Japanese military campaign of Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1592, Geumsansa also played a defensive role. The Buddhist volunteer corps, with over a thousand monks led by Master Noemuk (뇌묵대사) used Geumsansa for a training ground.[7] During the second Japanese military campaign, the Buddhist volunteer corps established their headquarters at Geumsansa. However, the entire temple complex subsequently suffered a tragic fate when the pavilion and outlying hermitages were burned to the ground by the invading Japanese forces.[7]

The present buildings were rebuilt in 1635 after the previous ones were destroyed by the Japanese invasions of Korea. The temple currently serves as one of the principle Buddhist centers in the region and is one of the largest temples in South Korea. Most of the treasures were created prior to the time of present buildings.[8]

Geumsansa Treasures[edit]

Mireukjeon - National Treasure #62[edit]

Maitreya Hall, housing a large Mireuksa Buddha (Buddha of the Future).

Geumsansa Mireukjeon (Mireukjeon Hall of Geumsansa Temple) Maitreya Hall is a three story wooden structure. Having three stories makes it unique among Korean Buddhist halls. Mireukjeon houses a large Mireuksa Buddha (Buddha of the Future). The hall was (re-)constructed in 1635.

Each floor has its own name. The first floor is called Daejabojeon (Hall of Great Mercy and Treasure). The second floor is called Yonghwajihoe (Gathering of Dragon and Beauty). The third floor is called Mireukjeon (Hall of Maitreya).

On the first and second floors there are five rooms in the front and four rooms on the side. On the third floor there are three rooms in the front and two rooms on the side.

The roofs of the first and second levels are supported by six pillars across the front and back of the building, with five pillars found along each side. The roof of the third level is supported by four pillars across the front and back and three pillars along the sides.

Clusters of brackets supported the eaves of the roofs. The main wooden support pillar on the inside of the hall is made of multiple pieces. These pillars are made in the minheullim style meaning the pillar gets thinner as it ascends.

Mireukjeon is constructed using a "multi-beam style" where the "eaves beams" are not only placed above the pillars supporting the eaves, but also amongst the supporing pillars.[5][9]

Noju - Treasure #22[edit]


Geumsansa Noju (hangul: 금산사 노주, Noju of Geumsansa Temple).

Described as a "relic", Noju is found between two of the temple's buildings, Daejeokgwangjeon Hall and Daejanggak Hall. Noju is believed to date from the early Goryeo period or the 10th century.

The function or purpose for the relic remains unknown. With the small sculpture of a bud positioned on the top removed, it may have served as a square pedestal for an image of the Buddha. Noju is constructed of three stone pedestals neatly layered at the bottom, middle and top. The bud-shaped magic stone ornament found at the peak of the relic is like that of what would be found at the peak of a wooden pagoda.

Pole patterns are engraved the back and edge of the bottom pedestal with eight longish ovals on the surface. 16 petals of the lotus flower are engraved on the front.

The middle pedestal has no decoration on the sides.

The 16 petals of the lotus flower motif found on the bottom is repeated top pedestal, but with the lotus flower petals on the top pedestal being longer and slimmer than those found on the bottom pedestal.

The side of the base is 1.2m/3.9 ft long making the total height of the relic 2.3m/7.5 ft.[10]

Seogyeondae - Treasure #23[edit]

Seogyeondae, Lotus-shaped stone pedestal.

Geumsansaseogyeondae (Stone lotus pedestal of Geumsansa Temple).

Seogyeondae is a finely detailed lotus-shaped stone pedestal (statue base), that historians believe dates back to the 10th century between the Unified Silla Dynasty and the early Goryeo Dynasty.

Seogyeondae is constructed from one solid piece of stone.

The top surface of the pedestal is cut level. Two square holes are incised into the top which are believed to have accommodated an image of the Buddha.

On the middle belt a floral pattern is embossed.

The bottom belt has a hexagonal pattern embossed.

In general, this stone pedestal utilizes the style and form typical of that from the Unified Silla Dynasty.[11]

Hyedeogwangsa Jineungtapbi - Treasure #24[edit]

Hyedeogwangsa Jineungtapbi (Monument to the high priest Hyedeogwangsa of Geumsansa Temple).

This tortoise shaped pedestal carved out of a piece single stone is a tombstone believed to have been made to memorialize the renowned monk in the middle era of the Goryeo Dynasty, Hyedeogwangsa. The tombstone foundation stone has been lost and the epitaph is badly damaged to the extent that deciphering what is written is difficult.

Hyedeo was born in the fourth year of King Jeongjong of Goryeo (1038). Started learning the Buddhist teachings at the age of four, he became a Buddhist monk shortly thereafter. In 1079 King Sukjong promoted Hyedeo to the position of chief of the temple. Later Hyedeo was assigned as the chief of the Buddhist body of the state by King Sukjong.

After Hyedeo died at the age of 59, King Sukjong raised Hyedeo's status to "State Mentor" and renamed him "Hyedeok" and named the pagoda "Jineung." [12]

Ocheung Seoktap - Treasure #25[edit]

Ocheung Seoktap

Ocheung Seoktap (Five storied stone pagoda of Geumsansa Temple).

This five storied stone pagoda is situated on the top of Songdae, the two-story stylobate, a large tall pedestal at the north side of Geumsansa Temple. A sarira stair is found behind the pagoda. Although only five stories tall, the roof of the pagoda causes it appear to be more like a six-storied structure.

The bottom layer of the base is short and narrows at the top where it holds the its cap stone. The large square base supporting the main body of the pagoda is oversized.

Each of the pagoda's stories diminish in size as they ascend and each story has relieves carved into each of the four corners.

The eaves the roof stone form gentle upturned curves.

Something that distinguishing this pagoda from other pagodas is the base of pagoda finial which looks like a roof stone. It is designed to support the finial at the top of the pagoda and gives this pagoda very distinct appearance.[13]

Bangdeunggyedan - Treasure #26[edit]

Bangdeunggyedan (Ordination Altar)

Geumsansabangdeunggyedan (Ordination altar of Geumsansa Temple).

Bangdeunggyedan is a stone pagoda in the shape of a bell. The bell-shaped pagoda appeared in the late Silla Dynasty is thought to have been adapted from the Indian Buddhist temple style.

This stone pagoda stands on top of the stylobate, a wide two story square stone platform found on the north side of the temple complex. The stylobate is engraved each side of with images of Buddha and the Four Devas, the guardians of Buddhist temple.

Stone railings were probably supported on the stone posts still found surrounding the lower layer of the stylobate. The stone posts have carved images of the Four Deva's faces on each of the four corners. The engravings with images of the Four Devas on the stylobate and the stone railings posts indicates that once there stood a sarira stairs to store the Buddha's own sarira.

The main body of the pagoda has engravings of lion's faces around the edge and the lotus flower in the center. Near the top the nine dragons are carved with their heads protruding out under the two stone plates engraved with a lotus flower.

The oldest stone bell pagoda still existing in Korea today is Bangdeunggyedan. Judging from the fine structure of the sculptures and ornamentation historians believe this pagoda was built during the early period of the Goryeo Dynasty.[14]

Yukgak Tachung Soktap - Treasure #27[edit]

Yukgak Tachung Soktap.

Geumsansayukgakdacheungseoktap (Hexagonal multi-storied stone pagoda of Geumsansa Temple).

This hexagonal multi-stored 2.18m/7.15 ft high stupa, Yukgak Tachung Soktap, differs from typical square shaped granite pagodas in that it is a hexagonal stone pagoda made of black-and-white clay slate.

Judging by the engraving methods used in the main body and the roof stone it is estimated to have been built around the early Goryeo period (918-1392) and was moved to here from the nearby Bongcheonwon Hermitage.

The pagoda is assumed to have a one story stone core for the main body of the pagoda. Now only the top two remain. A lotus flower pattern is engraved on the stylobate.

The roof stones slope gently on the outer surface of the roof, but curve sharply at the corners.

Because the original vanished, a decorated granite finial was added later.

The pagoda creates a unique mood with use of clay slate, the main ingredient of ink-stones, and maintains a gentle and delicate ratio as it narrowly ascends.[15]

Dangganjiju - Treasure #28[edit]

Two stone poles standing alongside
Dangganjiju flag poles

Geumsansa Dangganjiju (hangul:금산사 당간지주, Buddhist flagpole supports of Geumsansa Temple).

Dangganjiju are the two flag pole supports used to support the flag for a ceremony at a Buddhist temple. When a ceremony at a Buddhist is held, the event and location of the temple is indicated by a flag mounted on a stone or iron flag pole.

The two posts forming the flag pole support are 3.5m/11.5 ft tall and lie in a north - south orientation. There are three holes placed in the supports to hold the flag pole, the holes placed one above the other. Placement of the holes in this manor is indicative of the style from the Unified Silla period, similar to those seen at Bomun-ri from the Gyeongju period, and at the Mireuksa (Temple) site.

Dangganjiju is valued as the only flag pole support in Korea still retaining the original base. Historians believe these supports were erected during the late 8th century Silla period.[16] It was designated as the 28th "Treasure" (bomul) by the government on January 21, 1963.[17]

Simwonam Hwagang Samcheung Seoktap -Treasure #29[edit]

Geumsansa simwonam hwagangam cheungseoktap (Three storied granite pagoda of Simwonam Hermitage at Geumsansa Temple).

This three story stone pagoda mounted on a two-story stylobate is located near the peak to the north of Simwonam Rock at Simwonam (hermitage). The pagoda maintains the engraved pole pattern on the four edges and the center of the pagoda's main body.

Three flat broad roof stones cover each body stone forming a strong slope along the outer surface of the roof and gentle curves on the edge of the eaves in keeping with the typical of architectural style of the Goryeo period.

The pagoda being located deep in the mountain has contributed to the near perfect condition of the pagoda.

Although the broad roof stones and the strong slope of the eaves are typical of a style of the pagodas of Silla (57 BC-935 AD) period this pagoda actually dates to the Goryeo period (918-1392).[18]

Daejangjeon - Treasure #827[edit]


Geumsansadaejangjeon (Daejangjeon Hall of Geumsansa Temple).

Daejangjeon at Geumsansa was originally an octagonal wooden pagoda erected in the 600s C.E. during the Baekje period.

Daejangjeon was rebuilt in 1635 as a hall, during the Joseon period (July 1392 – August 1910). In 1922 the hall was relocated to its present location. Visible on the roof ridge beam is a portion of the finial that topped the original wooden pagoda.

Images of the Sakyamuni Buddha and his two most capable disciples, Kasyapa and Ananda are now enshrine within Daejangjeon. The Sakyamuni Buddha is seated on an elaborately engraved Sumidan pedestal.

This single story hall has 3 rooms along the sides. Incorporating a hipped and gabled roof Daejangjeon represents the most elaborate style of this era. A few images along the top the hall's roof line reveals a hint of the hall's past as a wooden pagoda.

Daejangjeon's ceiling is latticed. Interior construction utilizes two tiered multiclustered brackets on top of the columns in the middle section. Single tiered multiclustered brackets are utilized on top of the columns on the outer tie beams between the columns in each of the side sections.

The architectural study of this era's wooden pagodas is greatly enhanced by this small simple modified hall.[19]

Seokdeung - Treasure #828[edit]

Geumsansa Seokdeung (Stone Lamp), or lamp of enlightenment.

Geumsansaseokdeung (Stone lantern of Geumsansa Temple).

Geumsansa Seokdeung (Stone Lamp), or lamp of enlightenment, located in the front yard of Daejangjeon Hall was used to light the front of the worship hall.

The lamp is made of granite and measures 3.9m/12.8 ft high. The stone lamp dates back to the Goryeo period (918-1392) but was moved to the present location in 1922.

The square foundation stone is carved with a double lotus pattern. The octagonal base has straight lines engraved along the length to represent the cosmos or to emulate pillars.

The upper section of the lamp is carved as a fully bloomed lotus.

The upper pedestal forms the base of the light camber. The light chamber in the upper octagonal section has windows on four sides. Decorative engravings of Lotus petals are found on both the base and upper part of the pedestal.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "금산사 金山寺 (Geumsansa)" (in Korean). Nate / Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. 
  2. ^ a b c "금산사 金山寺 (Geumsansa)" (in Korean). Nate / Britannica. 
  3. ^ "법왕 法王 (Beopwang, King Beop of Baekje)" (in Korean). Nate / Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. 
  4. ^ "법왕 法王 (Beopwang, King Beop of Baekje)" (in Korean). Nate / Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. 
  5. ^ a b "National Treasures 62". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. 2005. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  6. ^ a b c d "History of the Geumsansa Temple". Buddhpia. 2005. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Geumsansa Temple - 금산사 (金山寺) (founded 599, rebuilt 16th century onward)". Asian Historical Architecture. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  8. ^ "Geumsansa (금산사 / 金山寺) introduction". Korea Temple. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  9. ^ "Geumsansamireukjeon(Mireukjeon Hall of Geumsansa Temple)". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. 2005. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  10. ^ "Geumsansa Temple Noju(Noju of Geumsansa Temple)". Korea Temple. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  11. ^ "Treasures 23". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  12. ^ "Treasures 24". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  13. ^ "Treasures 25". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  14. ^ "Treasures 26". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  15. ^ "Treasures 27". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  16. ^ "Treasures 28". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  17. ^ "금산사 당간지주 金山寺幢竿支柱" [Geumsansa Dangganjiju] (in Korean). Doosan Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  18. ^ "Treasures 29". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  19. ^ "Treasures 827". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  20. ^ "Treasures 828". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 

External links[edit]