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Seokguram Grotto ( 석굴암 )
Place Category: Temple
Kim Dae-seong, the Prime Minister in the 10th year of King Gyeongdeok’s reign in the Silla era (751), established Seokguram Cave.
At that time, it was called Seokbulsa. During King Gyeongdeok’s reign (742-765), a lot of cultural properties, including Bulguksa Temple, Hwangnyongsadaejong Bell, and Seokguram Cave, were made, which made the period the heyday of Silla’s Buddhist art.
The plane structure of the stone grotto is square in front and round at the back.
The Bonjonbul (the principle Buddha) statue is at the center, and various statues are carved on its girth, such as the Cheonbusang, Bosalsang, Nahansang, Geosasang, Sacheonwangsang, Inwangsang, and Palbusinjungsang statues. Unlike the stone grottos in Indian or Chinese temples, this stone grotto, which was assembled with artificially trimmed granite, is a masterpiece that harmoniously combines the ideal Buddhist world, science and technology, and sophisticated carving skills. Moreover, this stone grotto has a rectangular front chamber (entrance) and a circular main chamber, which are connected by a passage (corridor).
The round ceiling of the main chamber is made of about 360 flat stones. This degree of construction skill is very rare, and the excellent technique used can hardly be paralleled in world history.
The Samguk Yusa (the Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) records that Kim Dae-Seong built Seokguram Cave for his parents.
Seokguram Cave is the culmination of Silla art and is valued as representative of Oriental Buddhist art.
The Cave was registered in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1995.