Unified Silla Period
religion - Buddhism - adoration - sarira pagoda of monk
H. 170.0cm, W. 92.0cm
National Treasure 104
- Accession Number
Compared with stone pagodas intended to hold the sacred relics of the Buddha, the stone stupas for preserving the relics of high monks are generally smaller in scale but more diverse in style. The stone stupas for monks began to be built in earnest during the latter part of the Unified Silla period, when the nine head monasteries of the Seon (Zen) school were founded. The Seon School emphasized personal awakening. Stupas were made to honor Seon masters who had attained enlightenment and high monks who had inherited their teachings. Stupas contained the relics of these revered monks and steles had inscriptions recording their deeds and words. This Buddhist memorial monument is very valuable since a “stupa book” containing information on when and for whom it was built was found with it. According to the book, it was built in 844 to honor a Unified Silla priest named Yeomgeo (?-844) who was the second Seon Master of the Gajisan School, which was one of the Seon Schools of the Unified Silla. The stupa features the typical elements of the Buddhist memorial monuments built in Korea with the images of the Four Heavenly Kings carved in relief in the shape of an octagonal house. It is the oldest remaining stupa in Korea and it exhibits elaborately carved decorations on its comfortably small body. It is from the influence of this monument that most stupas made in the later periods came to exhibit an octagonal body lavishly ornamented with relief carvings.