Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the <I>Tripitaka Koreana</I>Woodblocks
Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, The Depositories For The <I>Tripitaka Koreana</I>Woodblocks
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Cultural Republic Of Korea Asia And The Pacific

The Temple of Haeinsa, on Mount Gaya, 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. Among Korea's historic Buddhist temples, three are recognized as the Three Jewels of Korean Buddhism. Haeinsa, the largest temple in Korea, is known as the Dharma Jewel Temple because it houses the woodblock texts. Originally the term 'Dharma Jewel' (poppa ) referred to Buddhist doctrine or the compilation of the Buddha's teachings, which form the basis of Buddhist laws. As the Haeinsa woodblock depositories house the most complete and accurate version of the scriptures in the world, they are a famous destination for pilgrimages, not only among Korean Buddhists but also Buddhists and scholars from all over the world. There are some 500 monks living at Haeinsa today, studying the Buddha's teachings and guarding the Tripitaka Koreana . 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. preservation 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.

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