Stele for State Preceptor Doseon and Master Sumi of Dogapsa Temple

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Chinese Characters 道岬寺 道詵 國師·守眉 禪師碑
Alternative name Stele for State Preceptor Doseon and Master Sumi of Dogapsa Temple , Stele for Buddhist Monks Doseon and Sumi of Dogapsa Temple
Field History / Traditional Era,Cultural Heritage / Tangible Cultural Heritage
Type Relics / Monuments
Area 8 Dogap-ri, Gunseo-myeon, Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do
Period Joseon / Late Joseon
Writer Choe Yeonsik

    [Detail Information]

    성격
    관련 인물 도선|수미
    재질 화강암[귀부 및 이수]|대리석[비신]
    크기(높이,너비,두께) 5.17m[전체 높이]|2.6m[비신 높이]|1.42m[폭]
    소유자 도갑사
    관리자 도갑사
    문화재 지정 번호 보물 제1395호
[Definition]
A stone stele from the late Joseon Dynasty erected within the precincts of Dogapsa Temple in Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do

[Introduction]
The Stele for State Preceptor Doseon and Master Sumi of Dogapsa Temple was built in 1653 at Dogapsa Temple in Jeollanam-do. The stele bears an inscription containing detailed information about the lives of two Buddhist monks, State Preceptor Doseon of Unified Silla Period and Royal Preceptor Sumi of Joseon Dynasty, and the process of its construction. Notably, the oblique line design on the tortoise-shaped pedestal and the cloud and dragon design on both sides of the main body are regarded as exceptionally fine examples from an art history perspective. It was designated as Local Tangible Cultural Heritage No. 38 on May 22, 1974, and then re-designated as Treasure No. 1395 on January 26, 2004.

[Background]
Construction of the stele began in the fourth lunar month of 1636 (the 14th year of the reign of King Injo of the Joseon Dynasty) and ended seventeen years later, in the fourth lunar month of 1653 (the 4th year of King Hyojong’s reign). According to the inscription, the stele was intended to replace the original stone stele for Doseon standing there. It had been heavily damaged over time by the elements, resulting in defacement of the body and loss of the head of the tortoise-shaped pedestal. The construction project required a preparation period of three years during which time Buddhist monk Okseup, who had renovated Dogapsa Temple, visited temples across the country to raise money for the project and even traveled to Hanyang, the capital of the Joseon Dynasty, to commission an inscription for the stele. The stone used for the stele was transported from Yeosan (present-day Iksan in Jeollabuk-do) through corvée labor initiated by the governor (gwanchalsa) of Jeolla-do, who was an active supporter of the project. The project ended seven months after the arrival of the stone.

Unlike other monumental inscriptions in Korea, this example consists of three sections, two on the front and one on the rear face. While all three sections refer to the same year regarding the completion of the project, they show different names as different compilers and calligraphers were responsible for the text of each section. This may be explained by the fact that the project required a long period of twenty-one years from planning to completion.

[Description]
This stele consists of a large foundation stone, a pedestal carved in the shape of a tortoise laid upon it, a main body with an inscription, and a dragon-sculpted capstone. The ground around the foundation stone is paved with stone slabs. The front part of the tortoise-shaped pedestal is square while the rear part is triangular owing to its tortoise shape. This creates a hexagonal form when viewed in its entirety.

The granite pedestal features a tortoise with its head slightly turned to the right and biting a magic pearl with eight teeth from each of the upper and lower jaws. The nose is rather wide, while the eyes are semicircular and bulging. The back is decorated with an elaborate pattern of incised oblique lines rather than the typical beehive pattern. Of the four feet, the front pair has five claws each while the rear feet have three claws each. The tail is bent to the left toward the hind leg. The main body of the stele is placed on the back of the tortoise-shaped pedestal with a thin platform, whose four sides are slightly raised upwards and decorated with floral designs placed between them.

The main body is made of marble and bears inscriptions on both the front and rear faces. The title of the inscription, Epitaph for State Preceptor Doseon and Master Sumi of Dogapsa Temple at Wolchulsan Mountain, is in seal script and placed on the upper part of the front face. Both sides of the main body are decorated with cloud and dragon designs rendered dynamically and in a realistic manner. The capstone, also made of granite, features twenty-eight upturned lotus petals and clouds carved on the lower part, plus a pair of dragons intertwined with each other carved on the upper part.

[Summary of the Inscription]
The inscription of the stele consists of three sections. The first section on the front face contains a brief story about the life of Doseon, his birth, initiation as a monk, and life as a seeker of truth. Furthermore, there are inscriptions on his achievements as a fengshuipractitioner, his relationship with Dogapsa Temple, the background to the construction of the stele and, finally, the names of those related with the creation of the inscription.

The first section of the inscription was composed by chief state councilor (yeonguijeong) Yi Gyeongseok and written by Minister of Rites O Jun, while its title was written by Minister of Punishments Kim Gwanguk. The first section, which takes up approximately two thirds of the space, is then followed by the second section, whose text is inscribed in smaller characters and which describes the background to the stele as well as some details of the building process. This second section of the inscription was drafted by Yi Suin, then serving as a junior sixth counselor (busuchan) in the Office of Special Counselors (Hongmungwan), and written by Kim Sigan, a literary licentiate (jinsa) of the Seonggyungwan National Academy. The third section inscribed on the monument’s rear face contains a brief history of Dogapsa Temple and the background to the construction of the monument along with a list of names of those who participated in the building project. The text of the third section was drafted by Jeong Dugyeong, a fifth counselor (gyori) of the Office of Special Counselors and written by Kim Bi, a literary licentiate of the Seonggyungwan National Academy. The title was written by Kim Sigan, another literary licentiate of the same institute.

While the title of the stele reveals that it was erected to honor two great Buddhist monks, Doseon and Sumi, the main text of the inscription is largely focused on the achievements of Doseon and the process of its construction. As for Sumi, it only briefly mentions that he rebuilt the main prayer hall of Dogapsa Temple sometime between the years 1457 and 1464.

[Current Situation]
Today, the Stele for State Preceptor Doseon and Master Sumi of Dogapsa Temple stands in the grounds of Dogapsa Temple in Gunseo-myeon, Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do. It is placed in a building that stands beside the temple’s “stupa terrace.” This can be reached by a five-minute walk from the temple through a mountain passage established between the Daeungbojeon Hall and the Dogapsa Museum. The building was constructed in 2000 to preserve the stele from the elements as its main body is made from marble.

[Cultural Significance]
The Stele for State Preceptor Doseon and Master Sumi of Dogapsa Temple is regarded as a valuable historical item for the study of art history from the Late Joseon Dynasty due to the unique style it exhibits in some of its parts. Notable in this respect is the tortoise-shaped pedestal, which is decorated with a pattern of parallel oblique lines rather than a typical beehive pattern. The cloud and dragon design ornamenting both sides of the stele’s main body also displays artistry of the highest order for its time in the expression of the animal’s spiritual nobility and dynamic movement. It also constitutes a unique example in that, unlike the tradition whereby a stele is used to honor only one person, a single stele was built in memory of two people, Doseon and Sumi. Furthermore, it is a valuable artifact for the study of architecture of the period due to the detailed description of the process by which the monument was planned and built.

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