|Three San-shin Icons at Jeonju's
on Mt. Ancient Virtue
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|Deok-go-san [Virtue Ancient Mountain] is the southern guardian of Jeonju City, capital of North Jeolla Province (there are also eastern, western and northern guardian-peaks around the city, each with a specially-designated temple). It is host to Sam-gyeong-sa [Three-Classics Temple] around on the northwest side, the name refering to the three most important scriptures of Confucianism, or possibly three key sutras of Zen Buddhism. It contains 3 different Mountain-spirit icons and altars, a full two more than the usual. The modern San-shin painting to the left here was found in the ramshackle Old Main Hall at the rear. It features a dongja-boy offering a fancy dragon-turtle-style teapot at center. Fairly unique is the other dongja-boy with short monkish hair & a royal-red robe picking sprigs of yeongji-beoseot [bullocho] way up on the cliff; the tiger roars up at him as if he's an intruder, while San-shin is unconcerned. Very strangely, in place of a San-shin statue a small Bodhisattva statue, i think possibly Maitreya [Mireuk-bosal], has been set in front. Yet another examble in this region of San-shin being regarded as a Bodhisattva?|
|In that same ramshackle Old Main Hall at the rear, used now for shamanic worship like a Sam-seon-gak, is found this excellent matched-pair, a Yong-wang [Dragon-king of the Waters painting (above left) and the Assembly of Spirits painting (San-shin is there in the upper-left row with white beard). That's an old style of "clouds" as background, with round peaks suggesting stars of the sky -- a motif usually used only in old Chil-seong [Seven Stars of the big dipper] paintings. So, these are quite a rare find!|
|In the new Main Hall, this standard antique Assembly of Spirits is
on the right-hand wall bracketed by guardians, while this excellent
San-shin painting is next to the central Buddha. He holds a Seon
(Zen meditation) master's fly whisk, and also something like a club;
I'm not sure whether it's supposed to be a staff or a medicinal root!
|Finally, outdoors in front of the Main Halls beside the front
courtyard is this amazing display, including a third San-shin icon. 33 dol-tap [stone pagoda-towers] have been piled up by the temple's abbot (33 is a very sacred number; for one thing, it refers to the number of Buddhist Heavens). In front of them is this fancy dragon-and-tiger statue -- their flight represents the dynamic interactive changes of Heaven and Earth, like the famous Yin-Yang [eum-yang] symbol. The San-shin figure next to them is cross-legged and seems to be meditating like a Buddha, very rare. Perhaps he's just patiently waiting for the fight to end and his tiger to return... Just a bit further down on the entrance road is found this final figure, sort of like a folk-Mireuk-bul [Maitreya Buddha] but obviously a displaced tomb-guardian with crude hat added; the abbot referred to this as another San-shin, but I would call it just a road-guardian.