A massive statue of Buddha believed to be over 1,000 years old was shown to the media for the first time at the Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province

2013-09-25 19:48

1,000-year-old Buddha open to public

Baek Byung-yeul


Tourists take photos of the “Maebul” or the rock-carved standing Buddha at the Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday. The temple unveiled the ninth-century statue prior to the opening of the 2013 Tripitaka Koreana Festival, which kicks off today for 46 days.
/ Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

HAPCHEON, South Gyeongsang Province — A massive statue of Buddha believed to be over 1,000 years old was shown to the media for the first time Wednesday at the Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province. The temple, which also keeps the “Tripitaka Koreana,” a 13th-century collection of Buddhist texts recorded on 80,000 woodblocks, and listed as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage, will unveil the statute to the public from Thursday to Nov. 10 to promote its annual “Tripitaka Koreana Festival.”
The sculpture, carved on a spread of rock located deep behind the temple complex, has been accessed only by monks since its creation in the 9th century, perhaps around the time when Haeinsa was built during the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-935 A.D.). It’s one of the country’s largest “maebul,” or rocked-carved standing Buddha statues, measuring 7.5-meters in height and 3.1 meters in width, and is a designated national treasure. “The Cultural Heritage Administration has been strictly limiting pedestrian access to the 2.7-kilometer trail (on the slopes of Mt. Gaya) that connects the statue with the temple. Permission for public access is temporary and only between 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said an official from the temple. “The trail has been protected as a revered place for monks who regularly visit the statue for prayer, so we would like to request visitors to be extra considerate. There will be security guards placed around the statue and Haenisa monks will serve as guides.” The Tripitaka Koreana Festival, which was inaugurated in 2011, offers a variety of cultural events that organizers say can be enjoyed by all people. Tickets cost 4,000 won for children, 6,000 won for middle and high school students and 8,000 won for adults. It will open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call (055) 211-6251 or visit its official English webpage at www.tripitaka-festival.com/english.do.

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