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Monday, December 13, 2010

Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Wood blocks - incredibly preserved Buddhist texts engraved on wood block

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Master craftsmen engraved Buddhist texts onto blocks of wood nearly 800 years ago. They have been remarkably preserved, and are in near perfect condition.

The Temple of Haeinsa on Mount Kaya is home to the Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts in the world. These texts were incredibly engraved on 80,000 wooden blocks nearly 800 years ago during the Goryeo Dynasty, between the years 1237 and 1248. The buildings of Janggyeong Pangeon were built in the 15th century to house the wood blocks. As the oldest depository of the Tripitaka, the Janggyeong Pangeon reveals an astonishing mastery of the invention and implementation of conservation techniques used to preserve these exceptional works of art.

The World Heritage Committee inscribed this site on the World Heritage List because the Tripitaka Koreana is one of the most important and most complete bodies of Buddhist doctrinal texts in the world. In addition, the buildings in which the scriptures are housed are remarkable as they have preserved these ancient wooden texts against deterioration and disintegration due to age, environmental and weather conditions, insects, etc.

Even though nearly 800 years has been passed since the Tripitaka Koreana was carved, the wooden blocks on which the texts are engraved are in near perfect condition. The wooden blocks and the carefully, devotedly engraved words on them illustrate the superior craftsmanship of the artists.

This engraving of Buddhist manuscripts onto wooden blocks is the oldest example of this type of artwork on Earth. Therefore, these teachings are a wonderful example of Buddhist wisdom and knowledge.

At the same time, the Tripitaka Koreana has greatly influenced the early development of printing and publishing around the globe. Thus, the Tripitaka Koreana is a shining example of both the culture of the Goryeo Dynasty and of Buddhist history, both of which have enlightened the world.

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