30 September, 2011


On  Mount Gaya,the Temple  of Haeinsa is home to the Tripitaka Koreana , the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, laws and treaties extant, engraved on 80,000 woodblocks between 1237 and 1248. The buildings of Janggyeong Panjeon, which date from the 15th century, were constructed to house the woodblocks, which are also revered as exceptional works of art. As the oldest depository of the Tripitaka (Three Baskets), they reveal an astonishing mastery of the invention and implementation of the conservation techniques used to preserve these woodblocks.


The Haeinsa Tripitaka woodblocks were carved in an appeal to the authority of the Buddha in the defence of Korea against the Mongol invasions. They are recognized by Buddhist scholars around the world for their outstanding accuracy and superior quality. Chinese Buddhist scholars have also used the Tripitaka Koreana as a reference in their compilations. The woodblocks are also valuable for the delicate carving of the Chinese characters, so regular as to suggest that they are the work of a single hand.
The collection is also an invaluable cultural heritage because of its outstanding historical significance and associations with ideology, religion, historical events and the experiences of individuals.  ... The depositories at Haeinsa are extremely rare in that they were built for the express purpose of housing the woodblocks; 18th- and 19th-century buildings for the same purpose in China and Japan are inferior in design and construction. They are also among the largest wooden structures in the world.
This is a distinctive cultural heritage testifying to the development of important cultural assets, society, art, science and industry. The depositories were built in the traditional wooden architectural style of the early Joseon period and are unparalleled not only for their beauty but also for their scientific layout, size and faithfulness to function, i.e. preserv


  The ground of the buildings was olso prepared before construction was started.One of the reason for choosing the site was because the soil itself was ideal .In order to further improve it,charcoal,powdered lime and clay were added to control humidity and the vents windows were designed in such a way as to provide perfect airing.
   ation of the woodblocks. They were specially designed to provide natural ventilation and to modulate temperature and humidity, adapted to climatic conditions and thus preserving the precious woodblocks for some 500 years undamaged by rodent or insect infestation.

Historical Description

Haeinsa Temple is Situated on Mount Kaya (1430 m), one of Korea's most beautiful mountains which, because of its rugged terrain, has been immune from the ravages of war that have plagued Korea throughout its history.
The temple was first built in 802 during the United Shilla Kingdom, and has been restored and enlarged on a number of occasions. The Changgyong P'ango are the four depositories used to store the 80,000 woodblocks used to print the Tripitaka Koreana. Their original form is uncertain: it is known, however, that the Queen ordered their restoration in 1481 during the reign of the Choson King Sejo, the work being completed in 1488. Sudarajang, one of the main depositories, was restored in 1622 and the other main depository, Poppojon, in 1624 (as shown by a dedication found during restoration work in 1964). They remain intact and in use for their original purpose today.
The Haeinsa Changgyong p'ango depositories house the world's most complete and accurate version of the Tripitaka, the complete Buddhist canons. They were carved to replace the first Tripitaka Koreana woodblocks, carved during the reign of King Hyonjong (reigned 1010-31) in the hopes of protecting the Koryo kingdom from invasion by the Khitan people of Mongolia. The first set of woodblocks were carved during the Mongol invasion of 1232. The seat of the Koryo court was moved to Kanghwa Island in that year, at the beginning Of a long episode of resistance. The project began in 1237 with the woodblocks for two volumes, comprising a total of 113 books, and was completed twelve years later with the woodblocks for the three-book index, making a total of 1496 volumes (6568 books) Of Buddhists teachings, sutras, and rules.
The Haeinsa Tripitaka Koreana is considered to be the most accurate Of all extant Tripitaka texts using Chinese characters because at the time of carving the National preceptor Sugi, the Buddhist monk in charge of the carving, thoroughly compared them with the contents Of texts extant at that time, including the Northern Sung Chinese version, the Khitan version, and the first version of the Tripitaka Koreana, to correct errors and replace missing characters. His revisions are recorded in the thirty-volume Record of the Revisions of the Tripitaka. The Haeinsa Tripitaka Koreana is the only Tripitaka to include material found in the Northern Sung and Khitan versions, which are almost non-existent today. In addition, the Haeinsa Tripitaka Koreana includes the pop won Churim, IIch'ae Kyongumui, and Naejon Suhamumso, three texts that would otherwise have remained unknown.

The entire Korean Tripitaka was carved twice during the Koryo Dynastry (918-1392), both times on wooden blocks. The king and the people believed that the presence of these sacred texts would help to drive back invasions and also bring good luck. The carving of the first set of blocks was completed in 1087. Great care was put into the compiling of the material resulting in a Tripitaka which was far more complete than its Chinese counter part. Unfortunately and ironically, it was burnt in the invasion of the Mongolians in 1232. Then in 1236, the nation again set out to carve the texts on wood blocks under the orders of King Kojong (r. 1213-1259). Special attention was paid to the completeness of the texts and to the quality of the editing. Sixteen years later, the present-day Korean Triptaka was produced in 1251. It is this set that you can see at Haein-sa today. At first kept on Kanghwa-do, an island to the west of Seoul, it was moved to Chich'on-sa in Seoul and then to Haein-sa in 1398, during the reign of the first Choson king. Fear of Japanese sea robbers was the reason for moving it to remote (in those days) Haein-sa.
The creation of the wood blocks is a facinating process. First of all high quality white birch trees (Betula platypbylla varjaponica) were chosen from the islands. The logs were wholly submegred in sea-water for three years, then cut into planks and boiled in sea water before being dried in the shade. After the planks had been thoroughly dried, they were soothed and the letters were painted on with a brush before being caeved. About 30 people carved the 52,382,960 characters: one character being carved after bowing to the Buddha. Because of the uniformity of the carving, it seems as if the work was done by one man. Not only were the characters beautifully written and carved, but there is not a single mistake in the entire collection.

The buildings were specially designed to protect the wood blocks from humidity and to provide good ventilation,and as,to this day,the blocks are totally free of mold or any insectes (even spiders)

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