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Buddhist Sculpture of Wŏnju in the Early Koryŏ period

林玲愛  
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    A number of Buddhist sculptures are extant in the Wŏnju 原州 area unlike other parts of the Kangwŏn province. Most of them are dated to the first half of the Koryŏ period. Thirteen pieces are present in situ, while five iron images and two stone images are stored in the collection of the National Museum. The fact that all the twenty pieces are created in a small area within a short span of time deserves particular attention, but no previous study has focused on these objects. They have not drawn scholarly attention most probably because they seemed to include no datable piece. Fortunately, we now have one datable piece, a rock-carved Buddha of Ipsŏk-sa 立石史, which has an inscription of the 5th year of Yuanyou (1090). It is anticipated that it would provide an important clue for dating other similar pieces. This article is the first attempt to deal with the Buddhist sculpture of Wŏnju in a single group in the light of the dated Buddha of Ipsŏk-sa. In this attempt, I explore the reason for the creation of a large number of Buddhist sculptures in this area and the more specific date of their creation within the first half of the Koryŏ period. Several points are presented in conclusion. First, all the sculptures from this area share the same stylistic characteristics and datable roughly to the middle to the late 11th century. The geographical location of Wŏniu seems to have contributed to the emergence of this particular style. Wonju was under the strong influence of Kaegyŏng 開京, the capital of Koryŏ, connected through the South Han river. Especially Wŏnju enjoyed prosperity during the 11th century, when the Hŭngwŏn granary 興原倉 was installed in this city. Thus, the Buddhist sculpture of Wŏnju was also closely associated with the style of the capital area. Unfortunately no sculpture made in Kaegyŏng during the 11th century; so it is not possible to make stylistic comparison between these two regions. It is certain, however, that the Buddhist sculptures of Wŏnju had their patrons who had a close relationship with central capital area and great authority over Wŏnju. Cultural communication with other area through river transportation must have promoted the refinement of the sculpture of this area. I suggest that the sculptural style of Wŏnju in the 11th centrury would have been quite similar to that of Kaegyŏng, because they had a close relationship in many respects. This conclusion would be supported by the comparison between a rock-carved Buddha of Ipsŏk-sa and the sculptural decoration on the relic stupa of the national patriarch Chigwang 智光國師.


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