Rock-Carved Buddhas at Ch’ilburam Hermitage in Namsan Mountain, Kyongju


  • Young-ae Lim Dongguk University



Ch’ilburam Hermitage, rock-carved Buddhas, Namsan Mountain, Kyŏngju (Gyeongju), Bhaishajyaguru Buddha, cave temple


On the Namsan Mountain of Kyongju, can be found the Ch’ilburam rock-carved Buddhas. The seven Buddha and bodhisattva images are significant because of their coexistence in one space and their unique arrangement. The Ch’ilburam sculptor was inspired by the Chinese central pillar caves that the sculptor had knowledge of, and the opportunity to visit. These archetypes of the ‘central pillar cave’ layout exhibit sutra-inscribed walls. By adopting and adapting these architectural elements, Ch’ilburam replicates the primary function of the Chinese cave temple. Ultimately, the Ch’ilburam site is a compromise between the desire for a rock cave temple, and the intractable geology of Korea, which is unsuitable for these purposes. As for the production period, there is a strong case for the view that the Ch’ilburam Buddha triad and four-sided stone pillar were created simultaneously in the early eighth century.

Author Biography

Young-ae Lim, Dongguk University

Lim Young-ae, Department of Cultural Assets, PHD. in Buddhist Art History, Ewha Woman's University


Dafangguangfu huayanjing (Flower-adorned Sutra T.9:278).

Jingang boreboluomi jing (skt. Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita-sutra, Diamond Perfection of Wisdom Sutra T.8:235).

Ponwonyaksagyonggojok (T.38:1770).

Samguk Yusa (Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms T.49:2039).

Wugoujingguang datuoluonijing (Dharani Sutra of Immaculate and Pure Light T.19:1024).

Yaoshiliuliguangrulai benyuan gongdejing (Skt. Bhaisajya-guru-purva-pranidhana-visesa-vistara, Sutra of Merits and Virtues of the Past Original Vows of Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata T.14:450).

Yaoshirulai niansong yigui (Ritual Manual of Invocating Medicine Buddha T.19:0924A).



How to Cite

Lim, Y.- ae. (2021). Rock-Carved Buddhas at Ch’ilburam Hermitage in Namsan Mountain, Kyongju. Buddhist Studies Review, 37(2), 175–197.