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Korean Buddhist Cultural Heritage

Dancheong (불교미술_단청)

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Writer Jogye Date22 Jul 2015 Read9,746 Comment0


Buddhist Art of Korea_




Dancheong refers to the Korean traditional style of painting on the surfaces of temples, shrines and ceremonial buildings. Various designs and patterns are first drawn on the walls, pillars and ceilings of wooden buildings and later painted with brilliant hues and colors. The style of Dancheong expresses the aesthetic beauty of the architecture of Korean palaces and temples. It also has several practical purposes, such as preventing the wood from decay or protecting it from harmful insects.

Dancheong is based on five basic colors which also symbolize the cardinal directions; blue (east), white (west), red (south), black (north), and yellow (center). However, sometimes the colors are mixed or blended. The decorative style of Dancheong is employed at Buddhist temples to express the sacredness of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha as well as the holiness of the Buddhist universe.

The designs of the Dancheong vary according to the parts of the building being decorated, along with other factors. Frequently floral patterns are employed in these designs, such as freshly budding lotus flowers, a single layer or double layers of lotus flowers, as well as chrysanthemums and peonies. Animal designs, depicting creatures such as phoenixes, dragons, giraffes and cranes, are also frequently used. The idea is to adorn the temple where the Buddha is enshrined with all kinds of beautiful paintings and designs.


- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism 

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