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Buddhist Temple Bell is Returned to Ulsan

2012/06/10 | 217 views | Permalink | Source

Engraved with the names of its craftsmen, the name of the Buddhist temple that first housed it, and "Heung-ryeo-bu" , the old name for Ulsan during the early years of the Goryeo Dynasty, this dark green Buddhist temple bell was made in 1019.
The bell, known as the Im-Kang-Sa bell, takes its name after the temple it first resided in.

The original weight of the bell was 213 kilograms, but today just one-fifth of the bell remains intact, the victim of damage from U.S. attacks on Japan, during World War Two.

The reliefs on the front and back of the bell are still vivid though, displaying the customary but dynamic Budhhist images of the vajra-warriors and flying fairies .
However, the Vajra-warriors are not typically depicted on Buddhist temple bells, which makes the bell a particularly valuable relic, both from a historic and academic point of view.
In fact, the Im-Kang-Sa bell has been designated a national treasure in Japan.

[Interview : Shin Hyeong-seok, Staff Ulsan Museum]
"Though the bell has been destroyed, it is a rare temple bell that bears the depictions of the Vajra-warriors, and the great skill displayed in the carvings of Buddha and the flying fairies suggest this bell was a excellent piece of craftwork".

The Imgangsa bell was moved in 1974 from a Japanese temple in the Miyaki district to a temple in Osaka, where it is being kept along with a replica.

[Interview : Shin Hyeong-seok, Staff Ulsan Museum]
"The bell is thought to have been seized during the later years of the Goryeo Dynasty, when Japanese raiders were known to frequently invade the Southern regions. It is our guess that the bell fell into Japanese hands during one of these raids".

The bell is making its way back home thanks in part to the efforts of a Korean resident in Japan, who negotiated with the Japanese keepers of the bell to help bring it back to Ulsan.
It will be on display at the Ulsan Museum for one year.
Pia Kim, Arirang News.

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