The Spiritual World: Images of Gods & Goddesses in Korean Art (Focus Buddha)

Many people believe in different Gods and Goddess. Buddha is only one of a more recurring decorative and symbolic element of ancient Korean art. Many have believed in the powers of different Gods and Goddesses throughout time. This Gallery presents depictions of Gods and Goddesses, with a focus on Buddha, in Korean art to explore their symbolism and how they are used in art and life. The Gods and Goddesses of Korea are very fascinating as we are able to get a vantage point into what some peoples spiritual beliefs are.  The practice of Buddhism inspired the Goguryeo kings to begin commissioned art and architecture that were dedicated to the Buddha (Boundless). The Baekje Buddhist sculpture is known to be characterized by its naturalness, warmness and the harmonious proportions show the unique Korean style. I chose five different Buddha statues from a variety of time periods where Buddhism was starting to become a major influence in Korea. These pieces chosen have different poses and postures to reflect different Buddhist meanings. Enjoy the journey back in time through these statues when Buddhism was just starting to come across Asia into Korean culture.       --The Gods and Goddesses represented in this collection are:

Buddha with Inscription: “Seventh Year of Yeonga” (Goguryeo, 539) by Unknown; Gilt-bronze Standing Buddha from the Borisa Temple (around 850) by Unknown; Amitabha Buddha from the Hwangboksa Pagoda (Unified Silla, 706) by Unknown; Buddha (Baekje, 6th century) by Unknown; Bronze figure of the Buddha Amitabha (700 AD-799 AD). Each of these Buddha statues are to symbolize the Buddha present in the space. These statues are for Buddhist followers to be able to use in a worship space.                                    Citations:

Amitabha Buddha. Unified Silla. Retrieved 26 Apr. 2016



Boundless. “Three Kingdoms Period.” Survey of Non-Western Art. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 26 Apr. 2016 from



Buddha Figure. Unified Silla Dynasty. Retrieved 26 Apr. 2016



Buddhism was first brought into Korea from China. Goguryeo, the kings, commissioned art and architecture to reflect Buddha. This piece may have been from the Silla period as the gold craftsmanship of this Buddha is unique to many pieces during that time period.
This image is from the Borida Temple site in Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do province, and is of great importance because of the facial expression, and the engraved details of the folds in the robes. The hand gestures of the Buddha are important features as well as they have significant meanings as they indicate dispelling fear. These gestures, line carvings and folds in the robe are casting techniques mainly used at the end of the Unified Silla Period (668-935)
This statue was found inside of a pagoda in Gyeongju. This was found inside a gilt-bronze sarira reliquary made in 706 CE. This Buddha was made to look after the deceased ruler, King Sinmun (the 31st king of Silla). The elaborate carving of this statues as well as the details of three-dimensional folds reflect influence from the Tang period sculptures, The body was made from gold, but the halo and pedestal are gilt-bronze. (Amitabha)
At a wooden pagoda temple site this Buddha statue was found in Buyeo. The characteristics that this Buddha has, such as roundness and the softness are characteristics of Baekje Buddhist sculptures. This Buddha is in a sitting position and the hands are in a meditation pose. This statue is thought to have been created during King Seong’s reign in 523-554 CE. This is the time when Buddhism was strongly promoted through various projects such as the construction of many temples, as the one this statue was found in.
During the Unified Silla Period, one of the last periods to accept Buddhism as a state religion is when this statue was produced. This Buddha is standing on a lotus pedal, the lotus is a Buddhist symbol for purity. The hands of this statue are in a teaching pose, also known as a reassurance pose.
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