As a last minute trip before we have to start another semester of school, my art teacher and I decided to venture out to Haein Temple, about an hour away from Daegu. ‘Sa’ means temple in Korean.
Haeinsa, on Mount Gaya, is home to the Tripitaka Koreana , the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, engraved on 80,000 woodblocks between 1237 and 1248. You can learn all about it here. The Haeinsa Tripitaka woodblocks were carved in an appeal to the authority of Buddha in the defence of Korea against the Mongol invasions. 500 monks currently live there today, studying the blocks as well as guarding them. [source]source]
This place is huuuuuuge, and in the middle of nowhere, which was so refreshing. As we walked along the wooded path, I could breathe the fresh air and it was so pungent that I had to stop and gulp down a few breaths of it.
I was amazed at the storage area of these ancient texts. Here are these relics, and they are in these wooden houses that have air circulating through it. Apparently I wasn’t suppose to take pictures but I got one good shot.
I had to read up on Wiki how this place was so well preserved and here is what I found:
Several ingenious preservation techniques are utilized to preserve the wooden printing blocks. The architects also utilized nature to help preserve the Tripitaka. The storage complex was built at the highest point of the temple and is 655 meters above sea level. Janggyeong Panjeon faces southwest to avoid damp southeasterly winds from the valley below and is blocked from the cold north wind by mountain peaks. Different sized windows on the north and south sides of both main halls are used for ventilation, utilizing principles of hydrodynamics. The windows were installed in every hall to maximize ventilation and regulate temperature. The clay floors were filled with charcoal, calcium oxide, salt, lime, and sand, which reduce humidity when it rains by absorbing excess moisture which is then retained during the dry winter months. The roof is also made with clay and the bracketing and wood rafters prevent sudden changes in temperature. Additionally, no part of the complex is exposed to sun. Apparently, animals, insects, and birds avoid the complex but the reason for this is unknown.
I hope to visit in the spring or summer, to see the temple in bloom. I “settled” instead for the amazing colors that decorate the temples in Korean architecture. It is so beautiful and intricate!
Korea has 9 UNESCO CULTURAL HERITAGES. One UNESCO heritage doesn’t mean one item. Kyungju historic sites as a group were designated as one heritage and 40 Chosun Kingdom King’s Tombs in different places were also designated as one heritage.
And the other additional 9 historic sites such as Namhansansung, Buyeo-Gongju historic sites, Gangjin Korean pottery historic sites and 11 Korean old Confucius schools as a group are tentative UNESCO CULTURAL HERITAGES waiting for full membership.
The UNESCO HERITAGES which Koreans are most proud of are 9 UNESCO WORLD HERITAGES FOR WRITTEN RECORDS, which are the largest in Asia. China has 5 in this category and Japan has nothing.
Each Korean UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE FOR WRITTEN RECORDS is including many books. For examples,
1.Chosun Kingdom Royal Documentaries are including 2077 books.
2.Chosun Kingdom Secritrariat’s Records are including 3243 books.
3.The Tripitaca Koreana, Buddhist scriptures, history books, research theses et cetra (from KORYO kingdom) are including 87,000 items.
4.Chosun Kingdom Kings’ Diaries are including 2329 books.
Wow I did not know Korea was recognized for the most UNESCO WORLD HERITAGES FOR WRITTEN RECORDS