Photos of Ssanggyesa Temple, South Gyeongsang Province, Korea

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Ssanggyesa Temple, South Gyeongsang Province

Ssanggyesa, a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, is located on the southern slopes of Jirisan in Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang Province). It was founded in 722 as Okcheonsa (Jade-Heaven Temple) by Sambeop and Daebi, two disciples of the great Hwaeom Master Uisang-daesa. It was renamed “Ssanggyesa” (Twin-Streams Monastery) in the 9th century. Most of the temple dates to the 17th century or after that: all its buildings were burned to the ground by Japanese invaders in 1592.

Ssanggyesa Iljumun
Stele, Ssanggyesa
Stone lantern, Geumgangmun
Zodiac generals
Image of Munsu-bosal
Image of Bohyun-bosal
Image of Bohyun-bosal
Ssanggyesa Cheongwangmun
Two Heavenly Kings
Two of the four Devas
Staircase in Ssanggyesa
Ssanggyesa bell pavilion
Stele and Daeungjeon
Ssanggyesa Daeungjeon
Statues, Daeungjeon
Ssanggyesa Myeongbujeon
Inside Myeongbujeon
Outdoor altar
Woodwork and paintings
Stone Lantern
Wooden and brass bell
Sanshin-gak paintings
Ssanggyesa buildings
Tea with a monk
Bamboo forest
Wood printing blocks
Woodblock building
Buddhist carving
Nine-story stone pagoda
Ssanggyesa buildings
Temple buildings
Small spirit statue
Spirit statue
Hwagaecheong river
Restaurant, Hwagaecheong

There are three gateways between the earthly world and the world of Buddha, leading to Ssanggyesa Daeungjeon, the main hall, with seven statues on the main altar; in the centre is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (Sakyamuni Buddha). Another hall, Ssanggyesa Myeongbujeon, has almost equal importance - the result of the change when orthodox Buddhism absorbed some traditional folk beliefs; ceremonies for the repose of the souls of the dead take place here. At the top of Ssanggyesa is Sanshin-gak, a particular shrine for non-Buddhist deities above and behind the Main Halls; Sanshin, Korea’s native “Mountain Spirit”, was long worshipped as a Shamanic demigod.

There is also a library housing 1,743 woodblocks, used to print a total of 36 Buddhist scriptures and books on Buddhism. Examples are “A Collection of the Essential Buddhist Teachings”, written by Seon monks, academic books on the once widely popular Seon Buddhism (better known in the West through its Japanese variant Zen), the Daesung sutra and textbooks used in temple schools. A newer structure is a nine-story stone pagoda built between 1987 and 1990. Enshrined within are three sarira pieces (Buddhist relic, a pearl or crystal-like bead-shaped object that are purportedly found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters) of Sakyamuni that the monk Kosan brought from his pilgrimage to Buddhist holy sites in India.