The wedding of Kaz and Ilsu
This section probably appears asynchronous since the previous two sections were located and associated with the city of Kyongju. However, this section really addresses the heart with which Kyongju identifies itself and the fact that it was the capital city of the Silla Empire. Kyongju is extremely proud of its heritage and it is felt all over the city even to the extent that the interstate toll booth in Kyongju is built in ancient architectural fashion. See the picture below.
One of the things I like about Korea (I mentioned it before) is that they make the museums extremely cheap so that everyone has a chance to learn about the wonderful culture in their country. On January 25, Ilsu and I went to the National Museum in Kyongju It is a wonderful museum full of treasures from the Silla and Goryeo dynasties. I really didn’t have room on the website to show all the pictures I shot in the museum however I will show a couple of things that I like. If you are in Kyongju then this museum as well as the much smaller Silla Arts and Sciences museum is well worth the trip. The photo below shows about one third of the campus of the National Museum in Kyongju.
The bell pavilion in the next two pictures holds the Divine Bell of the King Songdok which is said to be the most superior sounding bell of all Korean Bells. One of its features is that it has a dragon and sound tube in the top of the bell which distinguishes Korean bells from other Bells. It weighs about 18.9 tons is 3.33 meters high and took 30 years to complete it.
As I approached the bell pavilion to take a picture of the bell itself there were about 2 or 3 classrooms of children, a couple of teachers and a docent visiting the bell. I stepped up to take the picture of the bell and could hear the docent lecturing in the background on the legend of the bell. Before I could get the picture taken, about half of the children near me turned around to view me as if I were more important than the bell. It evidently is rare for a Caucasian to appear before them and they all started saying, “Hello” “Hello” “Hello” “Hello” “What is your name?” “What is your name?” … it seems that this was the extent of their English vocabulary however; they seemed to desire using me to practice their language skills. The teachers started ssssshushing them and I got my picture as fast as I could so that I could minimize distracting them.
There is a legend that accompanies this bell which states that a long awaited moment came when the bell had been finished and King Kyongdok and all the official ears were in anticipation of hearing a beautiful sound. Unfortunately when the bell was struck they were all dismayed by hearing a discordant crackling sound. The task was now passed down to King Haegong who passed orders to his people to make a beautiful sounding bell however, all failed to do so. Then all of a sudden a rumor was being passed around the city that a clean minded child sacrifice was necessary to appease the Gods and produce a beautiful sounding bell. A very poor farm woman brought her child for the offering and the King and company accepted the offer. The child was thrown into the molten copper and the bell was finally cast. When it was time to test the bell a large crowd of officials gathered of to hear the first strike of the bell. When it rang the bell was said to cry or moan a long resonate sound that resembled the word “Emille” which means mommy. The bell soon became known as “Emille” and today is said to be the most beautiful sounding bell in all of Korea. (See below)
The next picture should look familiar to you after you look at the Boolgooksa / Pulguksa section. This is a replica of the Tabot’ap pagoda from the temple of Boolgooksa constructed behind the National Museum in Kyongju. You may notice all of the lions are present in this pagoda however, I see that they are not in the same position as the pagoda at Boolgooksa
The following eight photos were all shot inside the National Museum in Kyongju. The next three pictures are figurines that have such a wonderful primitive yet expressive feel to them that I had to include them in the website.
My favorite of the figurines is the dancing girl shown below. Many twentieth century artists labored extensively trying to accomplish this sense of the primitive. It may look like it would be easy to create something like this however, it is difficult to get the creases in the dress to give her a sense that she is jumping or twisting as well as creating the illusion that her arms are waving about.
These fellows almost look like a choir of ghosts.
These three chaps are figure from the Chinese zodiac (Below are the Rat the Cock and the Boar)
The following photo is of a 5th or 6th century dragon incense burner which was recovered from the tomb of King Mich’u in the Taenungwon (Tumuli Park)
I have always had a wonderful curiosity and kinship when it comes to the gargoyles of Europe and America and here in the next three photos we have “Tokkabees” the Korean equivalent. These beasts are put on the roof tops of the buildings to dispel evil spirits that may wish to enter your home. These are from the Unified Silla period around 8th century.
Here are the Tokkabees in context on a gabled roof and it seems the spirits are in the air.
There are ancient tombs all over Kyongju the city is a virtual ancient museum furthermore, it is amazing to see this abundance of the treasures in this city. This photo below shows one of the gates to Tumuli Park however, this particular gate is the entrance to the Tomb of King Mich’u. There are more than 20 tombs in the park of Taenungwon (Tumuli Park) furthermore; it has the most concentrated area of Silla Tombs in all of Kyongju.
The next three photos were taken in the Tumuli Park and give a good idea as to the size of these tombs. The tombs are constructed by putting the king and or the queen in a small room with treasures to take to the other world. Then rocks are stacked up over the top of the tomb to create up to sixty foot high mounds in which soil is then placed over the rocks. The footprint of King and Queen Hwangnamdaechong’s tomb is the largest being 120m long by 80m wide. (The panoramic photo below is looking northwest) (Use the scroll bar when looking at the panoramic photos)
The photo below is also panoramic looking south. (Use the scroll bar when looking at the panoramic photos)
The following photo was taken about one hundred yards further down the path shown in the last photo. This picture is also looking south.
As I was walking down one of the paths in the park I came across this large garden of bamboo growing on the side of one of the tombs. I didn’t know bamboo grew so tall! It must have been thirty feet in many areas and was making the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard from plant-life. I wish I could have pulled up a hammock and just lay and relax listening to nature’s music. The wind was gently blowing through them as they creaked and tapped each other with a chaotic fractal rhythm reminiscent of wind chimes however, they were more clean and natural. Of course I can also imagine it wouldn’t last long before Ilsu would be yelling hurry hurry hurry up! Lets go!
(The next two photos show the bamboo shooting up into the sky)
I also feel the bamboo was placed here to help support one of the legends of King Mich’u. It is said that after the King died there was a military advance from a neighboring state. However, just as the enemy started to attack, out of nowhere, a mysterious army of soldiers that had bamboo coming out of their ears defeated the neighboring army and mysteriously disappeared just as they came. However, before they left they depositing the bamboo leaves in front of King Mich’u’s tomb. It was said that the spirit of King Mich’u saved the country.
There is a small highway that separates Tumuli Park from Chumsungdae/Cheomseongdae and Wolsong fortress. The following picture shows more of Kyongju’s ancient tombs and was taken looking southwest close to dusk near the astronomical observatory called Chumsungdae. (Use the scroll bar when looking at the panoramic photos)
On the south side of the highway there is a vendor who gives horse drawn carriage rides to all the ancient sites. I think the young man on this ride is having lots of fun.
The following two pictures relate to Chumsungdae an astronomical observatory built in 647 which is the oldest existing observatory in East Asia. Every brick in this structure has a symbolic relationship to the heavens. The structure is comprised of 361 bricks which is the number of days in a lunar year. Twenty-eight major constellations, twenty-four solar terms and twelve months are symbolically represented in the structure. The window is placed exactly in the southern most position which enables the noon sunlight, at the autumn and spring equinoxes, to reach down to the bottom of the structure.
The next picture is of the door to the Silla Arts and Sciences Museum in Kyongju. This museum has a absolutely wonderful set of detail structural models of the Sokkuram grotto. It is really a wonderful place for a scholar to start studying Sokkuram. In my Sokkuram section I was allowed to shoot a few pictures of these wonderful models. I highly recommend visiting this small museum if you are in Kyongju.
The next three pictures are of astronomical metric devices from the Silla Arts and Sciences Museum mentioned above. I have no information on these however they fascinate me to the point that I wanted to include them in the website. I also wish I could have been able to take better photos of these instruments for they were incased in glass and the reflections presented a huge problem.
This is the end of my website dedicated to my marriage with Ilsu. The site is also dedicated to the Min family for which I am so happy to be a part. If you started at the beginning and read everything then let me say that I am honored that you did so. If you have any questions you may contact me by the link below.