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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Namo Palbeon Daebosal, Part X: Pagyesa, Daegu Dong-gu

Pagyesa (Hanja: 把溪寺) is a subsidiary temple of Donghwasa, the main temple of the 9th parish of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It is located near Mount Palgong in 741 Pagye Avenue/Pagye-ro, Jungdae-dong 7-beonji, Daegu Dong-gu. A popular time to visit the temple is during October and November when the leaves are changing colors.

Pagyesa was first built by the priest Shimji in 804 A.D. (the 5th year of the reign of King Aejang of the Shilla Dynasty), and was reconstructed in 1605 during the Joseon Dynasty by priest Gyegwan. In 1695, priest Hyeoneung rebuilt the temple for the third time in the 21st year of King Sukjong’s reign. Hyeoneung is also known for having built the Giyeong-guk Pavilion at the temple in 1696, which has been designated as Daegu Cultural Property Material No.11. It is said that King Sukjong (r. 1674-1720) asked Hyeoneung to pray for the birth of a Crown Prince to succeed him, and Yeongjo’s birth was the result. Meaning "pavilion dedicated to praying for (King) Yeongjo" (r. 1724-1778, Giyeong-gak enshrines not only King Yeongjo, but also King Seongjong (r. 1567-1608), King Sukjong and Posthumous King Deokjong - Crown Prince Uigyeong.

There is a stone tablet near the pavilion that was erected in 1696, with an inscription that reads in hanja, “Everyone, both high and low in rank, must dismount their horse.” There is another tablet hanging at the nearby Seongjeon-am Hermitage, with the inscription, “Hyeoneung-jeon” (meaning “Pavilion of Priest Hyeoneung”), which they say King Yeongjo wrote at the age of 11.

Pagyesa is also noted for the relics discovered within the torso of a seated wooden image of Avalokiteshvara, or the Bodhisattva of Mercy, in 1979, when the statue was being mended. Designated as Treasure No. 992, the relics (a prayer script and a royal garment) are dated from the reign of King Yeongjo and the garment is believed to have been worn by the King himself. Pagyesa currently has 17 temple buildings, including Wontong-jeon (Daegu Tangible Cultural Property No. 7), Jindong-nu (Daegu Cultural Property Material No.10), and other buildings. In addition, there is a two-meter tall octagonal statue in front of the Buddha Hall, royal gifts of two glass beads and two folding screens granted by King Sukjong and the stone stupas of three monks including that of Hyeoneung, which were dedicated in 1701 in the 27th year of King Sukjong’s reign. Pagyesa has several small affiliated hermitages, including Hyeonni-am, Geumdang-am, Seongjeon-am, Daebi-am and Chilseong-am.