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Kayasan National Park
 

- featuring -

the Tripitaka Koreana
 

- the library of the Haeinsa Temple -





Haeinsa is without doubt one of the most rewarding temples to visit, - not only because of its beauty , - it's great setting, - and having status as one of Korea's three "Jewel Temples" -, but the most unique thing about it, is the highly unusual library, which is so rare and special, that UNESCO has declared it an international treasure for all mankind - - - -
It is also because of this library, that Haeinsa is  one of the "Jewel Temples", because this is the place, where all the wisdom of the Buddha is kept in the form of more than 80.000 wooden printing blocks, that combined contain the most complete collection of Buddhist scriptures in the World, - the Tripitaka Koreana - - -
These hand carved wooden printing blocks are not just writing, but true pieces of the ancient Asian art of calligraphy - - - -

King Kojung of Koryo ordered the printing blocks to be made in year 1235, and the actual carving of the many thousand blocks took 12 years to complete - -
Actually they were made as a replacement of a first set of printing blocks made a few hundred years earlier in order to plea the Buddha for aid against invaders.
Apparently it did not work, because when it was the Mongols turn to invade Korea, they also took the opportunity to completely destroy the first set of wooden printing blocks - - -
King Kojung's second set seemed to work better, because eventually the Mongol finally departed Korea in 1382 due to the collapse of their dynasty in China.

Most of the 80.000 printing blocks were made and stored in a temple on Kangwa-do island, but later they were all moved far south to the Haeinsa temple, which was considered a more safe place to keep them.
The building that now houses the Tripitaka Koreana  was built in 1488, and is an attraction by itself even without the "books".
It consists of two huge wooden structures and two smaller ones built entirely for the purpose of storing the many old printing blocks.
The Library buildings were clearly made for practical purposes only, because when you compare them with the other Haeinsa temple buildings, they appear quite simple and plain, without the splendid and colourful decorations and details you find on the temple architecture.
However, - as you can tell from the following pictures -, there are actually some roof beams inside the library which are gaily decorated with "Dan Chung" painting.
I believe, that these hidden beams are re-used timber from earlier maintenance and repairs of the Haeinsa temple buildings.
Whatever, - please have a look at one of the World's most unique libraries - - -
You won't see anything like it anywhere else  - -
 
 



Haeinsa
- the old library building to the left -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

Take note of the difference in level between the library building and the great hall of the Haeinsa temple to the right.
The library building containing all the wisdom of the Buddha is considered so important, that it is placed at a higher level than the main hall of the temple - - -
That really tell something about how important this library is.
 
 



Haeinsa
- the main entrance -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

Take note of the slatted window openings - -
They are part of the brilliant ventilation system that has secured safe storage and preservation of the precious wooden blocks for more than 500 years - - -

A modern concrete building with climate control and all sorts of scientific gadgets was actually built not far from the old library building in the believe, that the old wooden printing blocks would be better protected there.
However, - in preliminary tests the modern building failed miserably in preventing deterioration of the priceless blocks.
Therefore the printing blocks had to be moved back to the old library again.
Quite amazing, that an old building from 1488, apparently is a much better and safer storage place than a modern one from our time.
Hmmmmm, - just one of those things - - - -
 
 


Haeinsa
- the main entrance -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- a closer view of the impressive entrance to the inner section of the library -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- the corridor that leads from the main gate to the central courtyard -
- behind the grated walls the many thousand printing blocks are stored in shelves -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- the library storage buildings opposite the main entrance, - as seen from the courtyard -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- the courtyard between the library storage buildings -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

Take note of the slatted ventilation openings - - -
Their design is clearly different when comparing those on the front side with those on the back side of the storage buildings.
Maybe that ventilation system is the secret behind the perfect storage conditions inside????
 
 



Haeinsa
- school children are getting a lecture about this great historical- and cultural treasure -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- a view into the courtyard surrounded by the four old library storage buildings -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
Here is what it's all about, -
- the book shelves inside the library, with more than 80.000 wood printing blocks -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- endless corridors with rows of "books", - more than 80.000 -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Haeinsa
- on shelf after shelf -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Haeinsa
- storage shelves -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- take note of the "Dan Chung" painting on the cross beam at the roof -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 

The Koryo printing blocks.

In addition to the more than 80.000 Tripitaka Koreana printing blocks, the library also contains 2724 blocks carved at various temples between 1098 and 1349.
They contain Buddhist scriptures and Buddhist literature of the Koryo period, and as such they give us valuable insight of Buddhist thinking and traditions of the time.

Following pictures are from one of the buildings containing the Koryo printing blocks - - -
 
 



Haeinsa
- the Koryo printing blocks -
Old wisdom - - - stored here, - - - right in front of your eyes - - - almost a thousand years old - -  WoW!!!!
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- book shelves in the Koryo library -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- lots of almost 1000 years old books -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- here the carved text of one of the Koryo books can be seen -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- outside again -
- one of the old and massive massive corner support pillars of the Library -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Haeinsa
- a final look along the front of one of the Worlds most unique library buildings -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 

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Updated:  March 14.2005
               Feb.29.2008