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Gold Buddha statues from the stone pagoda on the site of Hwangboksa Temple

In 1942, the three-story stone pagoda at the site of Hwangboksa Sanctuary in Guhwang-dong, Gyeongju was destroyed for reclamation. All the while, a sarira reliquary containing two Buddha statues was found inside the rooftop stone of the subsequent story.

The two statues were set inside a plated bronze sarira compartment with an engraving of 360 Chinese characters (eighteen lines with twenty characters for each line) in customary content within the top. The outside sides of the sarira compartment were additionally enriched with 99 little pagodas delivered with dabbed lines. As per the engraving, when Ruler Sinmun passed on in 692, Sovereign Sinmok (神穆太后) and her child, who climbed to the high position as Lord Hyoso, raised the three-story stone pagoda at Seonwongaram Sanctuary to pay tribute to the departed past lords in the Illustrious Genealogical Place of worship.

Then in 706, after Sovereign Sinmok had passed on in 700 and Lord Hyoso had kicked the bucket in 702, Ruler Seongdeok cherished four grains of Buddha’s sarira, one unadulterated gold Amitabha Buddha sculpture with a level of six “chon” (transformation rate for “chon” is uncertain), and the Dharani of the Unadulterated Faultless Light inside the second story of the stone pagoda.

Reliquaries (from left to right): gold case, silver case, gold and silver mounted cups, and glass plate and glass dabs from the stone pagoda in Guhwang-dong (Public Gallery of Korea)

At the hour of disclosure in 1942, scientists found two gold Buddha statues, a gold case, a silver case, gold and silver mounted cups, a glass plate, and glass globules. Albeit the Dharani of the Unadulterated Faultless Light was not found, the states of the little pagodas portrayed with dabbed lines on the external sarira holder affirm that the adaptation of the Dharani of the Unadulterated Perfect Light that was converted into Chinese in 704 had been acquainted with the Silla Realm.

Production dates of statues

Gilt-bronze Buddha with inscription: “seventh year of yeonga,” 539 (Three Kingdoms period), 16.2 cm high, National Treasure 119 (National Museum of Korea)

The two gold statues are one standing Buddha and one situated Buddha. In any case, in light of the fact that the engraving doesn’t determine the stance of the sculpture, it isn’t clear when or in what request they were delivered and introduced in the pagoda.

Notwithstanding, in view of the sculptural style of the two statues, it is assessed that the standing Buddha was introduced in 692 when the pagoda was constructed, and the situated one was introduced in 706. The standing Buddha has delicate frameworks communicating the facial highlights, with the lips unpretentiously improved to shape a curious grin. The thick robe covers the whole body, concealing the general forms, which follows the style of Buddhist figure from the first Three Realms time frame. Thusly, the standing Buddha is probably going to have been the sculpture that was introduced in the pagoda in 692.

Then again, the body of the situated Buddha is reasonable and attractive, and the wrinkles in the dress are regular. Likewise, the diagrams of the facial highlights are very sharp, matching the style of Brought together Silla Buddhist model. The Buddha has one hand lifted and the other hand put on the knee, a hand signal that was broadly connected with Amitabha Buddha in the seventh 100 years. Considering that the subtleties of this sculpture compare to Brought together Silla Buddhist figure, affected by China’s Tang Administration, it is assessed to be the Amitabha Buddha sculpture that was introduced in 706.

Continuing tradition and initiating new style

On the standing Buddha, the external robe is folded over the two shoulders and afterward tossed back over the left. The wrinkles of the robe are U-molded. The hands are not exceptionally practical, being delivered bigger than typical in relation to the body. The right hand is raised to show the palm, while the left hand holds the finish of the robe. The detail of holding the finish of the robe follows back to antiquated Mathura or Gandhara Buddhist statues of India, and was likewise famous in 6th century Chinese Buddhist statues.

Image of Buddha with attendants from Gandhara, c. 4th century C.E., gray schist, 20.955 x 23.495 x 5.08 cm (Dallas Museum of Art)

Prominently, while the above attributes mirror the antiquated style, the statues additionally show components of the contemporaneous sculptural style that was pervasive in the Bound together Silla period. For instance, the standing Buddha highlights one of the earliest appearances of U-molded wrinkles in the robe, a detail that became well known in the Brought together Silla period.

Standing Buddhas with concentric semi-roundabout wrinkles undulating down from the midsection are said to follow the “Ashoka style.” Such statues are connected with the legend wherein Ruler Ashoka of India had numerous Buddhist statues made and transported to China. In China, most statues with an engraving that peruses “Ruler Ashoka” additionally have U-molded wrinkles. Albeit Buddhist statues of Brought together Silla didn’t have such engravings, they frequently included U-formed wrinkles.

The fancy corona is carefully cut with two elaborate openwork examples of blasting flares and concentric circles. A lotus-molded plate was embedded between the Buddha’s head and the corona, and the platform comprises of lotus petals on a twelve-sided polygonal help. Different hints of the chiseling system can be tracked down in various regions. For example, both the head and chest show follows where stakes were put to hold the shape and the first earth design together, and there is an opening on the rear of the Buddha where the first dirt model was recovered. The radiance, Buddha, and lotus platform were independently cast and afterward consolidated.

Getting and fostering the global style

Shakyamuni Buddha, 703 C.E. (Tang dynasty) (Shanxi Museum; photo: Michael Gunther, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Shakyamuni Buddha, 703 C.E. (Tang dynasty) (Shanxi Museum; photo: Michael Gunther, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The situated Buddha exhibits how, in the mid-eighth 100 years, Brought together Silla got and fostered the sculptural style of China’s Tang Tradition, which was universally famous at that point. Contrasted with the standing Buddha, the situated Buddha has a more prominent feeling of volume and more honed frames for the facial highlights, for a more stately, serious, and definitive look. The robe covering the two shoulders is more slender and all the more firmly wrapped, subsequently uncovering the enticing shape.

The flat lines on the neck, representing the three blessed ways, have showed up, and different subtleties (like the lines of the palm) are all the more fastidiously portrayed. The declaration of the robe flowing down over the lotus platform mirrors the style of Tang Buddhist model. At long last, the place of the hands — with the right hand raised to show the palm and the left hand laying on the knee — was a well known image of Amitabha Buddha in China. These characteristics obviously show that Bound together Silla design was affected by the Tang Tradition.

Be that as it may, the general articulation of the situated Buddha is regular and practical, shunning the bodily sexiness and misrepresented three-dimensionality of Chinese Buddhist figure, and foretelling the pinnacle of Brought together Silla Buddhist model addressed by Seokguram Cave.

As referenced, the corona, Buddha, and platform were delivered independently. The corona is made out of two segments, addressing light pillars rising up out of the head and body, individually. A lotus bloom is added to the head corona, while the body radiance is improved with a parchment plan. The two radiances are extravagantly adorned with an openwork parchment and fire plan. The platform, comprising of three segments, has an extraordinary round structure.

Details of pedestal, gold Amitabha Buddha from stone pagoda in Guhwang-dong, Gyeongju, c. 706 (Unified Silla Kingdom), 12 cm high, National Treasure 79 (National Museum of Korea)

There are still a few inquisitive insights concerning this Buddha, starting with its size. Albeit the engraving obviously expresses that the cherished sculpture had a level of six chon (roughly 20 cm), the level of this sculpture is somewhat under four chon. Maybe some future scientist will reveal new insight into this annoying issue.

These two gold statues are uncommon and critical in light of multiple factors: they are early instances of Buddhist statues revered in sarira reliquaries; they are produced using unadulterated gold and were dispatched and given by the illustrious court; they have engraved dates; and both their radiances and platforms have been saved flawless. Also, they epitomize the quintessence of Brought together Silla Buddhist model, proceeding with the custom of refined feel and sensitive projecting strategies while embracing recent fads.

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