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Unjusa, the Wonderland of Korea

by 한량 taeshik.kim 2019. 10. 23.



Unjusa 雲住寺 or 運舟寺 is a Korean Buddhist temple site located inside a valley in a not so high mountainin in Hwasun County, South Jeolla Province, South Korea. 

The site is characterized by an unusual collection of stone Buddha statues and stone pagodas. 


According to the Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea (Sinjeung dongguk yeoji seungnam, 『新增東國輿地勝覽』) compiled in 1530, "Unjusa Temple is located at Mt. Cheonbulsan. Along the left and right ridges, there are 1,000 stone stupas and stone Buddhas respectively. There are also two stone chambers. Two stone Buddhas are seated back to back." 

The number of stone pagodas and stone statues that remain today is not as high, but still many. 

It is not yet clear why there are so many stone and stone stupas here. 


As of today 91 stone Buddha statues and 21 stone pagodas still remain. The 21 stone pagodas that are scattered in the surrounding fields and mountains vary in shape and are 3,5,7 and 9 stories in height. 

The square pagodas are narrow and tall with flat roof stones, typical features of pagodas from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). 

It is of special note that geometrical patterns like X and III are carved on the surfaces of the pagodas. These are the most common techniques frequently observed among the remaining pagodas of Unjusa, along with the geometric wrinkle patterns of the stone Buddha statue's garments.

The remaining Buddha statues scattered throughout the fields around, and on the grounds of, Unjusa vary in size from dozens of centimeters/inches to more than 10m/33 ft high. The statues all have similar features unique to Unjusa having pillar-like bodies, simple faces, arms and hands that are out of proportion with the rest of the figures, wearing clumsy drapes of plain Buddhist robes - features that are similar to localized features of stone Buddha statues of the Goryeo period.

Unjusa enshrines many special stone statues of Buddha presenting good examples of religious symbols, supporting the belief that the existence of these stone Buddhas and stone pagodas will greatly enhance the research of Buddhist art history in Korea. (from wikipedia) 





《신증동국여지승람》 제40권 / 전라도(全羅道) 능성현(綾城縣)

【山川】 千佛山 : 在縣西二十五里

【佛宇】 운주사(雲住寺) : 천불산(千佛山)에 있다. 좌우의 산등성이에 있는 석불(石佛)과 석탑(石塔)이 각각 1천 개이다. 또 석실(石室) 둘이 있어 석불(石佛)과 서로 등지고 앉았다. 

雲住寺 : 在千佛山. 寺之左右山脊石佛石塔各一千. 又有石室二, 石佛相背而坐. 

Unjusa Temple is located at Mt. Cheonbulsan. Along the left and right ridges, there are 1,000 stone stupas and stone Buddhas respectively.

There are also two stone chambers. Two stone Buddhas are seated back to back.



Unfinished? or done? Nobody knows. 

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