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Korean J Art Hist > Volume 299; 2018 > Article
Korean Journal of Art History 2018;299:163-198.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31065/ahak.299.299.201809.007    Published online September 30, 2018.
경주 남산 열암곡사지 석조불상 연구
이 희 진
울산박물관 학예연구관
Stone Buddha Statue at Yeolamgok Temple Site, Namsan of Gyeongju
Heui jin Lee
Curater, Ulsan Museum
Abstract
Yeolamgok Temple site at Namsan of Gyeongju, is situated to the right side of Baegungye, on the south-west side of Gowisan Mountain. The site had been scattered with foundation stones from buildings and other sculpture fragments but has now undergone repair work. In 2007, the Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage led an excavation and restoration project on the site and the Stone Seated Buddha. During the works, a large rock-carved Buddha, over five metres tall in size, was found lying face down about thirty metres away from the Seated Buddha which has now been repaired. This discovery attracted much attention. This study has re-examined the production date of the two sculptures found on the temple site, based on previous studies, and furthermore determined when the temple was erected, and the meanings and significance of Namsan Mountain monuments in the history of sculptures. Compared to other works made in the late 8th-early 9th century, the Stone Seated Buddha has a fuller face and limbs that are shorter in proportion, and larger shoulders and chest that are closer to the 9th century works. As the body is more balanced and the details of the drapery and the flames on the halo more delicate and elegant than 9th century sculptures, this Buddha can be placed at early 9th century, earlier than the Stone Seated Buddha from Samneunggye. The Rock-carved Stone Standing Buddha discovered on the same site resembles the Rockcarved Standing Bhaisajyaguru Buddha from Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do, made in 801, in its broad jaws, high ushnisha, upward-turned lotus pedestal, and the shape of the feet. The face, drapery and the way the robe is worn also show familiarity with the main Buddha on the west side of the Carved Buddha Triads in Samneunggye, made in the early 9th century, placing the date at around the same time. However, the peculiarity of this Buddha’s mudra and the drapery makes it possible to categorize the sculpture as a Wangjeonggol type. Other statues classified as the type are: Stone Standing Buddha from Wangjeonggol, Namsan, Gyeongju; Stone Standing Buddha at the Dongguk University Museum, Stone Standing Buddha from Jeonungsu Temple site, Stone Standing Buddha from Hwangryonggol, Gyeongju; the main Buddha on the west side of the Carved Buddha Triads in Samneunggye, Namsan, Gyeongju; Stone Standing Buddha from Yaksugye, Namsan, Gyeongju; and Stone Standing Buddha from Jeungchon-ri, Sangju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. With the exception of the Buddha from Samneunggye that has a different mudra, all others are presumed to have been depicted with varying versions of the mudra of the Nine Levels of Rebirth, the mudra of Amitabha, judging by the way the thumb and the index or middle finger are touching, or the direction the hands are facing. Yeolamgok Temple site is at Baegungye, at the southeastern edge of the Namsan, Gyeongju, where many 9th century temple sites such as those of Yangjoamgok Temple site, Simsugok Temple site, and Baegungok Temple site remain. The statues of Baegungye, an important area where 9th century monuments are centred around, were made in the example of those at Yeolamgok Temple site and placed in other temples. Until the 8th century, Buddhist works were mainly centred on the north and the east side of Namsan, where the slope was gentle, but in the 9th century, the steeper south and the west, including the Baegungye area, saw prolific increase of Buddhist monuments. Political and social situations, as well as geographical elements brought about this phenomenon. As there were contenders to the throne and the royal sovereignty insecure, the kings of the 9th century needed to reassert their legitimacy. The Buddhist art works probably served to maintain the political system and reinforce the monarch’s supremacy as Buddhism held considerable influence over the Silla society in general. After the erection of a new temple was prohibited in 806, the second year of the reign of King Aejang, Buddhist works were presumably made not around the capital but in the provinces, and in areas of Namsan that were outside the city. The large Buddhist sculptures of the 9th century that measure over five metres tall, were likely the result of such political considerations and purposes.
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