Architecture of Dabotap and Seokgatap


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Architecture of Dabotap and Seokgatap

 

Seokgatap is a native Korean pagoda with clean proportions and minimal detailing. It is similar in style to most pagodas in the Gyeongju area, though superior in craftsmanship. Intact after thirteen centuries, it stands twenty-seven feet high, ringed by eight stones shaped like lotus flowers, perhaps symbolizing the eight lotus flowers that fell from heaven as prophesied in the Lotus Sutra.

During the reconstruction work some items were discovered within, including a sutra, a sari box, silver sutra plates, and the oldest wooden printing blocks in the world, a copy of the Dharani sutra printed after 704 AD.

Dabotap is a far more complex design, a unique creation, dedicated to the Many Treasures Buddha mentioned in the Lotus Sutra. In this chapter, a funeral tower emerges out of the ground as the historical Buddha gives a sermon. Greatly astonished, the onlookers inquire as to the meaning of the funerary tower. The Buddha says that many eons ago another Buddha named Many Treasures prophesied that wherever the Lotus Sutra should be preached, a funerary tower would emerge as witness to the Law.

The complexity of the pagoda is representative of the complexity of the universe. The open-air chamber within the pagoda probably once contained an image of the Buddha (in the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha sits inside the tower next to Many Treasures Buddha). The intricately carved stones in the thirty-four foot structure are all held together without mortar. Some are carved like stalks of bamboo, a motif also used by Korean craftsmen at Japan's Horyuji temple in Nara.

A likeness of the pagoda appears on Korea's 10-won coins

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