|The Hermitages of Hwa-eom-sa page one:
Jijang-am 지장암 & Geumjeong-am 금정암
Jijang-am is located right next to the Namak-sa
Shrine, just to the east of Hwaeom-sa's entrance.
It's San-shin painting is rather ordinary, altho the
tiger stares like a cat and the girl-servant seems to
be making a "teaching" mudra with her right hand.
Above is the antique Jijang-Bodhisattva framed in
red silk with gold brocade, very precious, from
which this hermitage gets its name.
But the best-known treasure of Jijang-am is
this almost-400-year-old tree named the
Olbeot-namu 올벚나무 on a little hilltop in
front of the buildings. Above-right, twisted
roots & a small shrine are found on the
pathway leading up to it. This type of tree is
known in the West as an Ascendens Cherry
Tree, and its wood is excellent for making
weapons. Therefore, this one is said to
have been planted here by Buddhist Master
The San-shin painting of Geumjeong-am is an
antique masterpiece. The Tiger upon which the Mountain-
King sits shows Korean folk-art at its best, with crazy-
happy expression and leopard-spots on its chest. His
staff is delicately thin, with a dragon's-head top. Five
dongja attendants (with angelic flying-scarves) cluster
around him, a very rare high number for the older
paintings; they offer respect, symbolic fruits & (uniquely)
a scroll (a painting, or scripture?).
Geumjeong-am 금정암 [Golden Well Hermitage],
a few hundred yards further up the mountain past
Jijang-am to the east of Hwaeom-sa, was founded in
1562 by an Abbott-monk named Seol-eung.
This great painting is found in the pretty Three-Saints shrine above-right
(with blooming cherry tree), along with the fairly ordinary Deok-seong icon
below-right and a Chil-seong icon. The very nice view of Jiri-san slopes
from the doorway of this shrine is shown below:
The Chil-seong [Seven Stars of the Big Dipper] painting in that shrine is also an impressive antique.
It depicts all 49 (7x7) Holy Stars, with the primary seven flanking the central Jeseok Buddha (see
pages 104~109 of my book) and the others arranged below. Clouds are used around most of their
heads (instead of halos) indicating that they are heavenly spirits. Also the Samshin [triplet-spirit] is
shown as three Confucian officials with lighter-green halos, between the Sun-and-Moon
Bodhisattvas [Il-wol-bosal]; but they don't "count" in the sacred numerological scheme. Six dongja
attendants appear up top, who also don't count (but note that together with the Sam-shin they make 3
sets of 3 = 9). Extremely rare in these Chil-seong icons, the North Star Spirit [Bukseong-shin] is
not included at all. Attached to the ceiling of the shrine above the painting is a black wooden
signboard showing nine stars (the big dipper plus two others), the Sun (red disk) and the Moon
(shown as a quarter-moon, quite rare in Korean folk art!) -- the 3 most important Heavenly symbols.
Above: Bikkuni or Buddhist nuns lounge in front
of the main residential building of Geumjeong-am,
studiously ignoring their foreign visitor wandering
around with a camera (later, they became very
friendly and invited me in for lunch and tea).
Left: the unusual pure-white Yong-wang [Dragon-
King of the Waters] shrine built over their well (which
had no particular golden appearance), beneath a
prominent elderly tree.
On the outer wall of that shrine, a male-female pair of sacred deer are shown.
Pyeo-gam Seonsa during the reign of Joseon King Injo (r.1623-49), after Korea had suffered three
ravaging invasions, to symbolically strengthen the national defenses. It is further said that this
tree's four major trunks symbolize the four major Vows of a Bodhisattva: to enlighten all beings, to
dispel all worldly agonies, to learn all the Dharma teachings and to eventually awaken as a Buddha.