국립중앙박물관 NATIONAL MUSEUM OF KOREA

Highlights
Buddhist Hanging Scroll for Outdoor Rituals from Buseoksa Temple
  • Culture/Period

    Joseon Dynasty

  • Materials

    Wood

  • Category

    religion - Buddhism - ceremony

  • Dimensions

    913.3x599.9cm(Hanging scroll painting)

  • Accession Number

    K 969

This huge hanging scroll depicting Shakyamuni Buddha and his followers would have been used to decorate an altar during open-air prayer gatherings held at and around Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Hanging altar paintings are always enormous—sometimes more than 10 meters in height. Their large size not only allows them to be seen from a distance by the ceremony participants, but also emphasizes Buddha’s wondrous power and wisdom, which allows people’s aspirations to be realized. Large hanging scrolls like this one have rarely been found in China or Japan, leading experts to believe that their use is a tradition unique to Korean Buddhism. No one knows exactly when such paintings began to be produced, but most scrolls that remain today were made after the 17th century, suggesting that their use became widespread after the invasions of Japan and the Qing Dynasty, which devastated Joseon during the late 16th and early 17th century. Historians believe that the use of the scrolls and open-air prayer meetings were related with the nationwide efforts to console victims of the wars. This particular hanging scroll was painted for Buseoksa Temple in 1684, making it one of the earliest of its kind. The figure at the center of the painting is Sakyamuni Buddha, who is preaching the Lotus Sutra on Mt. Gridhrakuta. The Buddha is surrounded by his ten great disciples, Bodhisattvas, Sravakas (voice hearers), the four heavenly kings, and the Vajra Bearer. In the upper part, a Buddha triad is shown preaching, with Vairocana in the middle, Bhaisajyaguru on the left, and Amitabha on the right. The latter two Buddhas also form another triad with Sakyamuni below, as the Buddhas of the three realms.