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My academy director had a surprise for me when I came in to work this afternoon -- another newspaper clipping about the archaeological find in Jeollabuk-do. As the following video - courtesy of Yonhap News - illustrates, the sarira recovered from the pagoda is actually quite small. Between this and the miniature gold Buddhas on display at the National Museum of Korea I can see why Baekje-era artisans are praised so highly for their craftsmanship; the detail and care put into these small artifacts is simply amazing.

I was also given a quick summary of the accompanying article, which adds an additional layer to the story of Seongdong. Apparently, further examination of the associated artifacts confirms that Seongdong did marry a Baekje official's daughter, but also suggests that he had more than one wife. Obviously the hope in some circles is that this additional wife will turn out to be Princess Seonhwa, thus supporting the story found within the Samguk Yusa. A quick check online didn't turn up anything new in the English-language press, but running an image search for 미륵사지 on Naver and Daum continues to yield new images of the artifacts being examined and catalogued.

A good photographic walk-through of the site in modern times can be found via tasofhso's blog.

And for anyone who wasn't already familiar with the term, Sarira (Sanskrit: शरीर Chinese: 舍利) can refer to:
  • Dharma body sariras, or sutras as told by the Buddha, according to Din Fu Bao's Dictionary of Buddhist Terms, a Dharma body sarira is "the Sutra as told by the Buddha: That which is unchanging in what is told by the Buddha, is of the same property as the essence of the Buddha himself, hence it is called the 'dharma body sarira'".
  • Corporal and full body sariras, the cremated remains of the Buddha (or any other spiritual master), but can also be used to refer other remains (for instance, a finger), or a preserved body, similar to the Roman Catholic incorruptibles. Full body sariras refers to the mummified remains of spiritual masters.
  • Broken body sariras refers specifically to cremated remains.
  • Sariras or Ringsels, when used without qualification, the term sarira generally refers to the pearl-like remnant of a master after cremation.

  • Mireuksaji (미륵사지) replica from Godoiksan


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 23rd, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
After a little more than two months of classes? Not yet! Most of what I take away from class relates to grammar anyway, so while I might pick up on that aspect of the blog the vocabulary is another matter altogether.

There is a book I've come across a couple of times in book stores here that has to do with Korean archaeological terms. I should see how much that thing costs.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 26th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Well, if I remember correctly it had Romanized translations for the Korean terms instead of having them written out in Korean. I don't recall the title offhand but I'll make sure to jot it down the next time I go to that particular bookstore -- maybe even snap a photo of one of the pages to give you an idea of what it's like.
Jan. 28th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
K-Blog awards
Hi there. Your blog was nominated for an award for the best Korea blogs of 2008, at The Hub Of Sparkle. Go check it out if you like.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )