Great Temple of Jiri's Northeast
in the Eastern (W Sancheong County) Sector of Jiri-san
Above: Daewon-sa's modern Shin-jung [Assembly of Guardian Spirits] painting in
the Main Hall. Right: the Bukseong-shin [North Star Spirit] in the Chilseong [Seven
Stars of the Big Dipper] painting in the Samseong-gak is rendered in an unusual green
traditional Korean royal-robe, and a remarkably tired elderly face (weird for a spirit of
longevity); note the heavenly official below him holding a refreshing cup of Korean
Green Tea, something that the Bukseong seems to desperately need himself!
Below: the San-shin (with white crane feather fan), the Yong-wang [Dragon-King]
(wearing a green Daoist-style "cloud-cap" -- highly unusual), and angelic boy dongja
holding unique white peaches, and an adult-woman (princess) dongja holding an
incense burner on a tray (extremely rare) from the above Shin-jung painting.
KNTO photo from a 2007 calendar
Daewon-sa [Great Source Monastery] is said to have been originally founded under the curious name
Pyeongwon-sa [Peaceful Hill Temple] in 548 CE by Yeon-gi Josa, the missionary-monk (possibly from
India) who also established Hwaeom-sa and Yeon-gok-sa on the SE slopes of Jiri-san. The great
Vinaya Master Jajang-yulsa is credited with building its famous pagoda in the mid-600s.
Situated deep in what is called the Daewonsa Scenic-Valley in remote western Sancheong County, it
is a fairly popular place for pilgrims and tourists to visit, with mostly female monks resident, and a very
popular trail-head for those who wish to climb Cheonhwang-bong, Jiri's highest summit, starting in the
early morning with the rising sun to their backs. It offers great views of these mountains, and lovely
unspoiled wilderness all around it.
Daewon-sa's best-known sacred asset is the granite
Bangwang-tap Pagoda (Treasure #1112) standing in
front of the Sarira Hall, recorded to have been built by
Jajang-yulsa. It is considered to be of excellent design.
It originally had 9 stories, but one was lost when some
Japanese invaders knocked it down in 1592 during the
Imjin War, and when it was rebuilt in 1784 (during the
reign of Joseon King Jeongjo) that storey was not
replaced. Parts of the finial spire on top were also lost.
A unique and fascinating feature of this pagoda is the
four stylized-human statues at the four corners of its
base, replacing the usual faux-pillars. The Four Heavenly
Guardian Kings are carved on the four sides of the base,
symbols of protection from bad fortune. One bronze
wind-bell hangs from each corner of the top storey.
The magnificent female (rare in Korea but typical of eastern Jiri-san) San-shin painting in Daewon-sa's
Sanshin-gak is unfortunately blocked by the glass-&-wood case housing the female San-shin statute.
She holds nothing in her hands, tho the two male dongja behind her carry symbolic fruit and a large
white-crane-feather fan. The background is well-done, with a deep sense of perspective.
|Two extremely different Dok-seong [Lonely Saint] icon-paintings: the older one on the left was found in the
Samseong-gak while the newer one on the right (with "starving Buddha" motif) is enshrined in the Main Hall.
Ancient legends claim that when Korea is in danger, this pagoda faintly glows with a strange bluish light, as a warning,
that it fills the temple compound with a sweet hopeful fragrance when the nation enjoys good fortune, and that the holy
sarira (relics remaining after cremation) contained within it can be seen in the reflection of it on the surface of the
nearby pond -- however, all of these blessings can only be perceived by those people with a very "clean" spirit.
KNTO photo from 1993
|Tiger and Crane wall-paintings on the outside of the Samseong-gak
|Excellent old Shinseon wall-paintings on the outside of the Main Hall
The Daewonsa-gyegok Scenic-Gorge, stretching up westwards on the north side of the
temple, is famous for its unspoiled beauty and also the 2nd-most-popular trailhead for those
hiking up to Cheonwang-bong Peak, including the trekkers starting the Baekdu-daegan Trail.