Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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Korean Buddhism Culture Memory of the World Related to Korean Buddhism
Printing Woodblocks for the Tripitaka Koreana and Miscellaneous Buddhist Scriptures

Memory of the World Related to Korean Buddhism

Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism


Haeinsa preserves the printing woodblocks for the Tripitaka Koreana (Goryeo Daejanggyeong; 81,258 woodblocks) and miscellaneous scriptures (5,987 blocks), both of which were crafted and inscribed over an extended period of time. The First Tripitaka Koreana (Chojo daejanggyeong) was reduced to ash in 1232 during the Mongol invasion. The extant Tripitaka Koreana was produced between 1232 and 1251 by inscribing texts on 81,258 wooden blocks for printing, providing a valuable resource preserved in perfect condition and well organized. Woodblocks to print miscellaneous scriptures were produced independently by Haeinsa Temple to complement the Tripitaka Koreana. These two categories of woodblocks represent the top printing and publishing technologies of their times. Recognized for their cultural value, they were registered on the UNESCO Memory of the World.
These woodblocks for the Tripitaka Koreana were crafted based on collections of Buddhist scriptures, precepts, commentaries, and tenets in Indian and central Asian languages, which were then available in East Asia. The Tripitaka Koreana contains Chinese translations of these texts, as well as some texts compiled in China. When the Tripitaka Koreana was inscribed, Ven. Sugi—head of the production project—and his associates performed a thorough comparison of all the Buddhist canon that existed then. These included: the First Tripitaka Koreana from the Goryeo Dynasty, the Kaibao Tripitaka of China’s Northern Song Dynasty, and the Khitan Tripitaka of northeast China’s Liao Dynasty. He then corrected errors and filled in omitted Chinese characters to produce a perfect version of Buddhist teachings.
The woodblocks were prepared with careful attention by first soaking them in sea water for 3 years, and then boiling them in brine. They were then dried and coated with several layers of natural lacquer before the text was inscribed. As can be seen, these printing woodblocks not only exerted a great influence on the cultural level of East Asia due to their massive volume and precise content; they also raised the cultural stature of the Goryeo Dynasty.

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