December 2, 2022

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Hwangsang-dong Buddha Carving in Gumi, South Korea

This standing Buddha is carved in relief on the surface of a rock cliff where the outskirts of Hwangsang-dong, Gupo-dong and Jinmi-dong three smaller towns near Gumi-Si meet. 

The carving is considered to be an outstanding work of the Unified Silla Period because of the harmonious look of the carving, including the well-defined features and softly flowing clothes. 

The carving stands 7.3m-tall.  It has a large usnisa (a three-dimensional oval at the top of the head of the Buddha). 

The face has well-refined features, with both the long ears drooping down, and a solemn, merciful impression on his face.

The hands are raised at the chest, with the left hand positioned with the palm facing inward and the right hand with the palm facing outward while assuming a preaching posture.The robes that are worn by the Buddha have faint patterns carved from the chest to the navel which extend down making fan-like pleats at the legs of the carving.

Interestingly, the image has a stone panel seemingly balanced on its head.  Buddha statues or carvings with a stone panel on his head are common in the outdoor Buddhist images sculptured in the Goryeo period.

According to the legend, a Chinese Tang general was chased by Baekje soldiers.  The general saved his life by following a woman, and hiding himself behind the rock.  After the soldiers were gone, the general tried to find out the woman to thank her but he searched in vain.  Thinking of the woman as a Buddha, the general carved this image on the rock. 

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