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Wooden Figure of Seon Master Heerang
Goryeo Period 10th Century, Height 82.7 cm, Treasure No. 999, Hainsa Temple Museum
The great Seon patriarch Heerang (899~956) live from the late United Shilla Period to early Goryeo Period. He was a master of the Avamtamska School of Buddhism. He was of great help to King Taejo in the unification of the country. With the support of the royal family, he rebuilt Hainsa Temple on a grand scale.
This wooden figure captures perfectly the actual features of the old monk. Over the statue, very fine hemp has been pasted over, and a thick coat of coloring placed over that. Another interesting thing is that there is a hole in the middle of the chest. We have not discovered an explanation for this. However, there is a legend that there were so many mosquitoes at Hainsa Temple to the extent that monks and nuns could not practice. Thus, master Heerang went to Heerang Hermitage and made a hole in his chest to feed the mosquitoes. All the mosquitoes went to the hermitage for the blood, and the monks and nuns could practice. This is the oldest wooden statue of its kind. It serves as a model for Buddhist statue studies and ancient statue-making research.