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Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
Criteria Cultural: iv, vi
Reference 737
Inscription1995 (19th Session)
Coordinates 35°48′N128°06′E / 35.800°N 128.100°E / 35.800; 128.100
South Korea physical map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Haeinsa in South Korea
Korean name
Revised Romanization Haeinsa
McCune–Reischauer Haeinsa

Coordinates: 35°48′N128°6′E / 35.800°N 128.100°E / 35.800; 128.100 Haeinsa (해인사, 海印寺: Temple of the Ocean Mudra) is a head temple of the Jogye Order (대한불교조계종, 大韓佛敎 曹溪宗) of Korean Seon Buddhism in Gayasan National Park (가야산, 伽倻山), South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. Haeinsa is most notable for being the home of the Tripitaka Koreana, the whole of the Buddhist Scriptures carved onto 81,350 wooden printing blocks, which it has housed since 1398. [1]

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

Jogye Order representative order of traditional Korean Buddhism

The Jogye Order, officially the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism is the representative order of traditional Korean Buddhism with roots that date back 1,200 years to Unified Silla National Master Doui, who brought Seon and the practice taught by the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng, from China about 820 C.E. The name of the Order, Jogye, was adopted from the name of the village where Patriarch Huineng's home temple is located.

Seon Buddhism is the transformative facture of Chan Buddhism tradition and creed in Korea. A main feature of Seon Buddhism is a method of meditation, Ganhwa Seon. A Korean monk, Jinul accepted partially a meditative method of Chan Buddhism in 1205. In Chan Buddhism, hwadu was a delivery of realising a natural state of the Awakening. Jinul addressed a doctrine of Sagyo Yiepseon ) that monks should live an inborn life after learning and forgetting all creeds and theories. Within the doctrine of Jinul, hwadu is the witnessing of truthful meaning in everyday life.


Haeinsa is one of the Three Jewels Temples, and represents Dharma or the Buddha’s teachings. It is still an active Seon (선, 禪) practice center in modern times, and was the home temple of the influential Seon master Seongcheol (성철, 性徹), who died in 1993.

The Three Jewels Temples are the three principal Buddhist temples in Korea, each representing one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism, and all located in South Korea.

Zen master is a somewhat vague English term that arose in the first half of the 20th century, sometimes used to refer to an individual who teaches Zen Buddhist meditation and practices, usually implying longtime study and subsequent authorization to teach and transmit the tradition themselves.

Seongcheol is the dharma name of a Korean Seon (Zen) Master. He was a key figure in modern Korean Buddhism, being responsible for significant changes to it from the 1950s to 1990s.


The temple was first built in 802. Legend says that two Korean monks Suneung and Ijeong, returned from China and healed Aejang of Silla's wife of her illness. In gratitude for Gautama Buddha's mercy, the king ordered the construction of the temple. [1] Another account, by Choe Chi-Won in 900 states that Suneung and his disciple Ijeong, gained the support of a queen dowager who converted to Buddhism and then helped to finance the construction of the temple.

Bhikkhu male Buddhist monk

A bhikkhu is an ordained male monastic ("monk") in Buddhism. Male and female monastics are members of the Buddhist community.

Aejang of Silla (788–809) was the 40th ruler of the Korean kingdom of Silla. He was the eldest son of King Soseong and Queen Gyehwa. He married a lady of the Pak clan.

Gautama Buddha the founder of Buddhism

Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama in Sanskrit or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali, ShakyamuniBuddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk (śramaṇa), mendicant, sage, philosopher, teacher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.

The temple complex was renovated in the 10th century, 1488, 1622, and 1644. Huirang, the temple abbot enjoyed the patronage of Taejo of Goryeo during that king’s reign. Haeinsa was burned down in a fire in 1817 and was rebuilt in 1818. [1] Another renovation in 1964 uncovered a royal robe of Gwanghaegun of Joseon, who was responsible for the 1622 renovation, and an inscription on a ridge beam.

Taejo of Goryeo Founder of the Goryeo Dynasty

Taejo of Goryeo, also known as Taejo Wang Geon , was the founder of the Goryeo dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 10th to the 14th century. Taejo ruled from 918 to 943, achieving unification of the Later Three Kingdoms in 936.

Gwanghae-gun or Prince Gwanghae was the fifteenth king of the Joseon dynasty. His personal name was Yi Hon. As he was deposed in a coup d'état, later official historians did not give him a temple name like Taejo or Sejong.

The main hall, Daejeokkwangjeon (대적광전, 大寂光殿: Hall of Great Silence and Light), is unusual because it is dedicated to Vairocana, whereas most other Korean temples house images of Gautama Buddha in their main halls.

Vairocana celestial Buddha embodying emptiness

Vairocana is a celestial buddha who is often interpreted, in texts like the Avatamsaka Sutra, as the dharmakāya of the historical Gautama Buddha. In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of Śūnyatā. In the conception of the Five Tathagatas of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Vairocana is at the centre and is considered a Primordial Buddha.

The Temple of Haeinsa and the Depositories for the Tripiṭaka Koreana Woodblocks were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The UNESCO committee noted that the buildings housing the Tripiṭaka Koreana are unique because no other historical structure was specifically dedicated to the preservation of artifacts and the techniques used were particularly ingenious. [2]

UNESCO Specialised agency of the United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

World Heritage Site place listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or natural significance

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.

The temple also holds several official treasures including a realistic wooden carving of a monk and interesting Buddhist paintings, stone pagodas, and lanterns.


A Buddha statue inside the temple's inner grounds Haeinsa inner sanctum 2013 03.JPG
A Buddha statue inside the temple's inner grounds

After independence, when the Korean War broke out, Haeinsa encountered a crisis. In September 1951, after the Battle of Inchon, South Korea turned the war around but then North Korea did not retreat so the remnants of one thousand North Korean soldiers around Haeinsa engaged in guerrilla warfare. UN forces were ordered to bomb Haeinsa with four bombers. However, at that time Kim Young Hwan, the leader of the Air Force's pilots, worried about the loss of the Haeinsa Tripiṭaka Koreana and did not obey the command. Due to his lack of action, Haeinsa weathered the crisis and did not experience the bombing. Haeinsa gongdeokbi honors him with the landscaped grounds of Haeinsa.[ citation needed ]

Janggyeong Panjeon (National Treasure No.32)

Tripitaka Koreana woodblocks at Haeinsa Korea-Haeinsa-Tripitaka Koreana-01.jpg
Tripiṭaka Koreana woodblocks at Haeinsa

The storage halls known as the Janggyeong Panjeon complex are the depository for the Tripiṭaka Koreana woodblocks at Haeinsa and were also designated by the Korean government as a National Treasure on December 20, 1962. They are some of the largest wooden storage facilities in the world. [3] Remarkably, the halls were untouched during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) and were spared from the 1818 fire that burned most of the temple complex down. All told, the storage halls have survived seven serious fires and one near-bombing during the Korean War when a pilot disobeyed orders because he remembered that the temple held priceless treasures.

Janggyeong Panjeon complex is the oldest part of the temple and houses the 81,258 wooden printing blocks from the Tripiṭaka Koreana. Although the exact construction date of the hall that houses the Tripiṭaka Koreana is uncertain, it is believed that Sejo of Joseon expanded and renovated it in 1457. The complex is made up of four halls arranged in a rectangle and the style is very plain because of its use as a storage facility. The northern hall is called Beopbojeon (Hall of Dharma) and the southern hall is called the Sudara-jang ("Hall of Sutras"). These two main halls are 60.44 meters in length, 8.73 meters in width, and 7.8 meters in height. Both have fifteen rooms with two adjoining rooms. Additionally, there are two small halls on the east and west which house two small libraries.

Copy of a Tripitaka Koreana woodblock used to allow visitors to make an inked print of the woodblock on the Haeinsa complex grounds. See here for an image of the woodblock print. Korea-Haeinsa Tripitaka Koreana woodblock 2770-06a.jpg
Copy of a Tripiṭaka Koreana woodblock used to allow visitors to make an inked print of the woodblock on the Haeinsa complex grounds. See here for an image of the woodblock print.
Rice terraces in farmland surrounding Haeinsa Haeinsa Rice Terraces, South Korea.jpg
Rice terraces in farmland surrounding Haeinsa

Several ingenious preservation techniques are utilized to preserve the wooden printing blocks. The architects also utilized nature to help preserve the Tripitaka. The storage complex was built at the highest point of the temple and is 655 meters above sea level. Janggyeong Panjeon faces southwest to avoid damp southeasterly winds from the valley below and is blocked from the cold north wind by mountain peaks. Different sized windows on the north and south sides of both main halls are used for ventilation, utilizing principles of hydrodynamics. The windows were installed in every hall to maximize ventilation and regulate temperature. The clay floors were filled with charcoal, calcium oxide, salt, lime, and sand, which reduce humidity when it rains by absorbing excess moisture which is then retained during the dry winter months. The roof is also made with clay and the bracketing and wood rafters prevent sudden changes in temperature. Additionally, no part of the complex is exposed to sun. Apparently, animals, insects, and birds avoid the complex but the reason for this is unknown. These sophisticated preservation measures are widely credited as the reason the woodblocks have survived in such fantastic condition to this day.

In 1970, a modern storage complex was built utilizing modern preservation techniques but when test woodblocks were found to have mildewed, the intended move was canceled and the woodblocks remained at Haeinsa.


It also offers Temple Stay programs where visitors can experience Buddhist culture. [4]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 orientalarchitecture.com. "Asian Historical Architecture: A Photographic Survey". www.orientalarchitecture.com.
  2. "WH Committee: Report of 19th Session, Berlin 1995". whc.unesco.org.
  3. Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks" (PDF). whc.unesco.org.
  4. "Templestay | A joyful journey to Find the True Happiness within Myself". eng.templestay.com.