First in a series of two

A pagoda in the garden of the National Cultural Museum, Ichon, Seoul.

I became aware of pagodas in the vicinity of temples in South Korea.  The architectural history of these constructions is probably prehistoric, as old as the building of towers.  In one form or another they are found throughout Asia — India, South Asia, China, Japan and Korea.  It is said that they were originally part of Taoism and that means that Buddhism would easily absorb these symbolic structures.

Another pagoda from the same garden.

Pagodas are associated with meditation, with the performing of certain rituals and have been a storing place for sacred objects.

This is the Seogatap pagoda at Bulguksa, in the south of South Korea, built in the 8th-century a.d.  

When I saw this pagoda I wasn’t aware of the history.  My Korean colleague insisted on being photographed with it.  I later discovered, this pagoda had for centuried been made of wood and after the destruction of Japanese invaders in the 1590s it was restored in granite form.  It is said that the first movable block printed texts were discovered in the second level of this pagoda.  Considering the history, I feel that this discovery must have been made prior to the invasions.

To protect their patrimony, the Koreans decided over the years to bring pagodas from various regions to the capital.  I had some doubt as to whether this one was in fact a pagoda, but the form is flexible.

The other well known pagoda at Bulguksa


© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

September, 2019



Wikipedia pagodas

Note:  I mentioned the first wood block printed texts.  There is a good case to made that the Koreans, probably under the tutelage of Chinese monks, produced the first printed texts eighty years before Gutenberg did so in Europe.    


My photographs  

Pagoda garden at the National Cultural History Museum, Seoul





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