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The culture of the Koryo Dynasty
inherited Shilla culture, including Buddhism. Influenced by the architectural
trends of Song China, Koryo in its early years
developed a unique architectural style featuring curved bracket arms on top of
columns called column head bracketing. With brackets placed only on the column
heads, the framework was rather simple, and the ceiling was left bare with no
covering panels or canopies; the roofs were mostly gabled. Some examples of this
column-head styling include: Kungnakchon,
the Nirvana Hall of Pongjongsa temple; Muryangsujon,
the Amita Hall of Pusoksa temple, both in Andong, Kyongsangbuk-do
province; Taeungjon, the Sakyamuni Hall of Sudoksa
temple in Yesan; Ch'ungch'ongnam-do province and
the entrance gate of the Kaeksa (Guest House) in Kangnung, Kangwon-do province. The Nirvana Hall of Pongjongsa
is the oldest wooden structure extant in Korea. Dismantled for renovation in
1971, it was determined at that time that Pongjongsa
had been reconstructed in 1363.
Another style involving multi-cluster brackets influenced by
Yuan China emerged after the mid-Koryo period and
continued into the Choson period. With clusters of
brackets placed not only on the column heads but also on the horizontal beams
between columns, this style was much heavier in feel. A building thus
constructed was sturdier and had a more imposing appearance. The roof was
usually hipped and gabled and, unlike the column-head style, the ceiling was
covered with panels, creating a checkered appearance.
During this period, Buddhism became tinged with Taoism,
shamanism and other belief systems. The traditional styles of "one
Pagoda" or "two Pagodas" for a certain number of halls
disappeared from use as such shrines, as Ch'ilsonggak
for the spirits of the Seven Stars, and Sanshin-gak for the Sanshin, or
"Mountain Spirit," were added to temple facilities. The placement of
structures became more complicated with the introduction of geomancy into temple
planning. This was largely due to a highly esteemed monk named Toson.
Some of the best temples of the period are Hungwangsa,
Purilsa and Manboksa. Though none have survived, the way in which they were
arranged has become known through extensive excavations of the temple sites.
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