Korean Buddhist Sculpture

Korean Buddhist sculpture is one of the major areas of Korean art. Some of the finest and most technically accomplished Buddhist sculpture in East Asia and World were produced in Korea.

Buddhism, a religion originating in what is now India, was transmitted to Korea via China in the late 4th century. Buddhism introduced major changes in Korean society. The complexity of the religious sutras sent to Korea required the aristocrats who adopted the religion to become literate and required the training and importation of literate scribes. Little evidence of religious art exists in Korea before the introduction of Buddhism. Subsequent to its introduction, the religion inspired the production of devotional art as well as the beginnings of sophisticated temple architecture.

Images of the Buddha were probably first imported by monks sent from China and the Buddhist sculpture of Korea is indebted to prototypes developed in India, Central Asia, and China. From these influences, a distinctive Korean style formed. Korean Buddhas typically exhibit Korean facial characteristics, were made with native casting and carving techniques, and employed only some of the motifs that were developed earlier in Buddhist art. Additionally, Korean artisans fused together different styles from different regions with their own tastes to form a native art tradition. Korean art is too often incorrectly described in Western literature as merely a passive bridge transmitting Chinese art to Japan. One area of Korean art where this is decidedly not the case is in Korean Buddhist sculpture. Korean stylistic developments and forms were greatly influential in the Asuka, Hakuhō, and Tenpyo periods of Japanese Buddhist sculpture when Korea transmitted Buddhism to Japan in the 6th century.

Buddhist sculpture remains an important form of art in Korea today.

Read more about Korean Buddhist SculptureBackground, Three Kingdoms Period (traditionally 57 BCE–668), 4th and 5th Centuries, Unified Silla (668–935), Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392), Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910), Modern

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