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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Namo Palbeon Daebosal, Part XVI: Sammaksa, Anyang Manan-gu, Gyeonggi Province


If you walk for about seven or eight hundred meters further from Yeombulsa Temple, you will reach Sammaksa Temple (Hanja: 三幕寺) over a hill at Mount Samseong. Though most of the trail is rough and covered with pebbles, the course is not especially dangerous. 

Located at 478 Sammak Avenue/Sammak-ro, Seoksu 1-dong 241-54 beonji, Anyang Manan-gu, Gyeonggi Province - Sammaksa Temple is Traditional Temple No. 9 and is said to have been founded in 677 (the 17th year of King Munmu the Great of the Silla Kingdom) by the three eminent monks of the Silla Kingdom: Wonhyo, Uisang and Yunpil. Thereafter, at the end of the Silla Kingdom, the state monk Doseonguksa (827-898) renovated the temple enshrining new Buddha statues and renamed the temple Gwaneumsa. Then it is said that King Taejo Wanggeon of the Goryeo Kingdom renovated the temple and renamed the temple Sammaksa. 

In 1348 (the fourth year of the reign of King Chungmok of the Goryeo Kingdom), great monk Naongseonsa and great monk Jigong from India stayed at Sammaksa Temple and prayed, causing something of a boom in Korean Zen Buddhism. In the Joseon Kingdom period, the great monk Muhak nominated four patriotic temples in the east, west, south and north of the capital Hanyang. At this time Sammaksa Temple became the patriotic temple in the south together with Buramsa Temple in the east, Jingwansa Temple in the west and Seunggasa Temple in the north of the capital Hanyang. This temple has a famous legend that says the Japanese invaders tried to burn the buildings of this temple during the Japanese invasion Imjinwaeran but the temple building did not burn, making the invaders repent and retreat from the temple. 

The main hall Daeungjeon of Sammaksa used to show well the typical features of architectures in the Joseon Kingdom but it burned down in 1990 and Yukgwaneumjeon Hall was built on the same spot. Currently Sammaksa Temple has the main hall Yukgwaneumjeon, Cheonbuljeon Hall with its thousand Buddha statues, Myeongbujeon Hall, Manghaeru Pavilion, Chilseonggak Shrine, Daebang and a residential house. From Sammaksa Temple people can see the nice landscapes of the Anyang and Siheung areas and can even see the West Sea on clear days. 

Sammaksa Temple has many cultural properties and among them three Chinese characters Samgwija (三龜字: three Chinese characters meaning turtle) have unique features. Elder brother Ji Un-yeong (1852-1935) of Ji Seok-yeong who was the pioneer of the vaccination law in Korea inscribed the three Chinese characters of Gu (龜) meaning a turtle on the flattened surface of a large rock in 1920. The writing styles of the three letters are different from each other. In addition to this, Sammaksa Temple has such prominent attractions as a 2.55 meter-high three storied stone pagoda, Maaeamita-samjonbul (three Buddha statues) reliefs made on a large natural rock, a stone history monument Sajeokbi and natural rocks looking like male and female sexual organs.