Jiri-san Nogo-dan  Cheoneun-sa
지리산 노고단  천은사
[Wisdom-Discernment Mountain Crone-Altar Peak  "Hidden Spring" Temple]
One of the 12 Great Temples of Jiri-san,  in its Southwestern Sector
At the foot of mighty and venerable Nogo-dan Peak,
Cheoneun-sa Temple was founded in 828
(the same year
that
green tea was first planted farther east in front of Ssangye-sa).  
Its present configuration and some of the buildings are
from a reconstruction in the late 1700s.  Its main fame is
just as a charming place, with easy access for tourists on
their way driving up on the paved road to Nogo-dan, and a
1776 Sakyamuni Buddha altar-painting
(Treasure #924).
The Korean term Cheon-eun 천은 usually
means "Heavenly Blessings", especially used
by Christians, and for years I thought that was
the name of this temple -- there are indeed
two other Buddhist temples named Cheoneun-
sa (an old one in Samcheok County, and a
new one in Wonju County) that use those
Chinese characters.  However, the characters
for this ancient monastery mean "spring"
(source of water) and "hidden" (not publically
known) -- reversed in order, which is strange
but sometimes happens with place-names
here -- and so it means "Hidden Spring",
perhaps implying that this temple is a source
of esoteric but life-enriching spiritual wisdom.
the old Main Hall and new Stone Lantern
Following the ancient tradition,
before paintings and statues began
to be used in the late 1700s,
Cheoneun-sa's only San-shin icon
was this uncut stone set in a
rock-shrine behind the Main Hall,
against the temple's back wall.  
Carved Chinese characters read
"Monument of Mountain King".

There are two more examples of
these primitive crude-stone San-
shin icons nearby here
(on following
pages)
and a few more nationwide;
they are now rare.
When I visited in 2001, however, a new modern-style Samseong-gak [Three Saints Shrine] had been
built, and these excellent paintings were displayed.  Above is the San-shin with two superb
dongja.
Dok-seong and his boy-attendant -- note the unique ginseng-root-legs golden teapot!!!
the Chil-seong Painting, with a very Sanshin-style Bukseong-shin [North Star]