|The Hermitages of Hwa-eom-sa
-- page two: Yeon-gi-am 연기암 --
Jiri-san Hwaeom-sa Yeon-gi-am is a new hermitage that
already enjoys a powerful reputation. It's profound name
Yeon-gi 연기 means "Dependent-Arising", a key concept of
Buddhist Dharma, and echos the legend that its parent-temple
the great Hwaeom-sa was founded by Indian Master Yeon-gi-
josa. It is very big for a "hermitage", larger than many
"temples", and commands a splendid view from its geoman-
tically-auspicious perch about 500 meters high, just NE of
Wonsa-bong Peak (579m). it can be reached at the end of a
very long winding dirt road that climbs from the east side of
Hwaeom-sa, or by hiking up the trail towards Nogo-dan. Left
is the modern dragon-turtle stele that commemorates its
construction, and below is the Biro-Buddha Hall.
The dramatically-situated Samseong gak [Three-Saints Shrine] of Yeongi-am,
which not only contains the usual Sanshin, Dokseong and Chilseong icons, but
is also this temple's shrine for the Bodhisattva of Compassion -- quite unusual.
The central altar in the shrine
is an elaborate gilded-bronze
display for Gwanse-eum-bosal,
with colored statues of Yong-
wang [Dragon-King of the Waters]
holding a golden sacred pearl
& standing on a dragon-turtle,
and a worshipful dongja boy.
The Chilseong [Seven Stars of the Big Dipper]
painting is remarkably New-Age-luminescent,
almost like Hindu paintings from India. The
Bukseong-shin [North Star Spirit] is rendered in
traditional Chinese-Daoist style, however.
San-shin with staff and gourd in the Shin-jung [Assembly of guardian Spirits]
painting in that shrine, and the small collection of doltap towers outside of it.
the excellent view
down to the rest of
Yeongi-am and of
bong Peak (912m)
from that shrine.
In the Shin-jung painting of the Main Hall, San-shin is found just above-right
of the spirit with the flamboyant winged-hat, with a black goatee and in a
Hunter's hat with eagle-feathers sticking out of it -- an extremely rare motif,
found only in a few antique Dragon-King-centered Shin-jungs and the
painting of Shilla General Kim Yu-shin -as-Sanshin at Odae-san.
The San-shin painting of Yeon-gi-am is new, but follows traditional motifs. The two
Dongja attendants be flying scarves are quite unusual in their positions and postures.
The background is very well done, including very rare blue birds, flowers and
mushrooms. a decidedly simpler Dokseong sits next to him over the same altar.
An elaborately-designed wall-altar of Gwanse-eum-bosal
and a modern Tantric-Demon-centered-style Shin-jung
with a prominent San-shin -- with bald head, extended
eyebrows and a full white beard -- in the Biro-jeon Hall.