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!