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Memory of the World Register print

Printing Woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana and Miscellaneous Buddhist Scriptures
The Eighty Thousand Wooden Printing Blocks of the Tripitaka Koreana
The Tripitaka Koreana (Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka) are the world’s only extant collection of wooden printing blocks for the Buddhist scriptures that are written in classical Chinese. A complete collection of Buddhist scriptures, including Buddha’s discourses and sutras (rules of discipline) given in his lifetime and commentary by scholars in subsequent generations, is generally called a Tripitaka, and in Korean it is also called a Daejanggyeong. This Tripitaka is also known as the Goryeo Daejanggyeong because it was carved during the Goryeo Dynasty (918~1392) or the Palman Daejanggyeong (Eighty Thousand Tripitaka) because of the number of the printing blocks in the collection.

The World’s Oldest and Most Complete Buddhist Scriptures
Stored in the buildings of Janggyeong Panjeon Hall in Haeinsa Temple in Gyeongsangnam-do province, the Tripitaka Koreana was completed by scribes between 1236 and 1251. In terms of its scholastic excellence (comparing, proofreading, adjusting, and arranging), it is recognized as the most comprehensive example of the woodblock printing technique in all known Buddhist scriptures of that time. Most of the subsequent Tripitakas produced in Japan, China, and Taiwan were based on the Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka of Haeinsa Temple. In addition to the 81,258 wooden printing plates of the Tripitaka, the Janggyeong Panjeon Hall also stores 5,987 miscellaneous woodblocks of Buddhist texts, history, and scholastic research that were inscribed between 1098 and 1958.
The Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka is a priceless example of the early woodblock printing technique. Lacquered using sap from the lacquer tree, the woodblocks have excellent durability and can still print crisp copies 760 years after their creation.

The total 87,000 woodblocks that make up the Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka, as well as the miscellaneous woodblocks, record nearly the entire collection of Buddhist scriptures that exist in Asia. Based on the value of their content and the excellent state in which they have been preserved, they were listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in June 2007.

<Where to Find the Tripitaka Koreana and Miscellaneous Buddhist Woodblocks >
☞Click here for information on Janggyeong Panjeon Hall in Haeinsa Temple
☞Click here for information on Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do province
☞ Related Column: Reflections in a Calm Sea: Haeinsa Temple

<Last updated on August 31, 2015>

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