Bunhwangsa monastery, (in) Kyŏngju, Gyeongsanguk-do, KR

Raw data

“Bunhwangsa (Famous Emperor Temple) was built in 634 during the reign of Queen Seondeok. It is the oldest datable pagoda from the Silla Era. Once it had seven or nine stories, but the upper stories have been lost over the years.
Bunhwangsa was once a grand temple complex that covered several acres. It ranked among the four preeminent temples of the kingdom, a distinction it shared with nearby Hwangnyongsa temple … Bunhwangsa [Pagoda] looks like an imitation Tang pagoda with Korean details … It is believed that the interior was once hollow, but over time debris has completely filled the temple. A 1915 excavation into the interior uncovered a relic box lodged between the second and third stories, containing the calcified remains of a cremated priest. It is common to entomb the remains of cremated priests, called sari, in pagodas such as these. Also found were gold and stone ornaments, coins, scissors, and a needle with a case. This rich lode certainly belonged to a woman of royalty, perhaps even Queen Seondeok herself.
On each face of the pagoda are doors that may have once been entrances. Flanking the openings are carvings of Buddhist guardians called Geumgang-yeoksa (Mighty Diamond Men). On the base platform at the four corners are stone lions guarding the pagoda. In the fields south of the temple are flagpole support pillars that also survive from the original temple.
Bunhwangsa is still an active temple today, though it is a fraction of its original size.”
- “Asian Historical Architecture: Bunhwangsa temple site, Gyeongju, Korea, South” http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/koreasouth/gyeongju/bunhwangsa.php

It is known as the home of the great Monk Wongyodaesa [=Wonhyo] and Monk Jajang. Because of its long history, Bunhwangsa is thought to have once been filled with a number of important relics, most of which were lost in a fire during the Mongolian and Japanese invasion of Imjinwaeran. The only remaining artifacts are the Mojeonseoktap stone pagoda, Hwajaengguksabibu (part of the foundation of a memorial erected for Great Monk Wonhyo [617–686 CE]), Samnyongbyeoneojeong (a well where there lived, according to legend, three dragons sent to protect the Silla kingdom), and the Dangganjiju flagpoles.

“Korea be inspired: Gyeongsangbuk-do » Gyeongju-si » Bunhwangsa Temple” http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264194

“The construction of large monasteries in capital cities in the Three Kingdoms period turned into a truly significant government task. The monasteries became national institutions, receiving direct support and patronage from the palace and aristocracy … Until the ninth century, therefore, monasteries were mostly built in the cities.”
- Pak & Whitfield (2002: 12-3, 152)

Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Feb 02, 2011

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 29 Dec 2012

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Bunhwangsa monastery, KR.

General location of the Bunhwangsa monastery, KR.
Lat 35.84083 Long 129.2337
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2010.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Bunhwangsa 분황사석탑 (芬皇寺石塔)

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Korea: Gyeongsanguk-do

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx. Lat 35.84083 Long 129.2337 - based on visual identification of the site in maps and satellite imagery, maps.google.com - tmciolek, 3 May 2011.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

  • Kyŏngju (Gyeongju), Guhwang-dong

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • MBM chrono-tag 0633-66c - tmciolek 29 Dec 2012
  • 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 29 Dec 2012

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Architecture, documents

16. Additional notes

  • [missing data] (incl. details of the size of the monastic population)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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