Sutras Working in Buddha’s Belly and Buddhists’ Pockets

Miniature Sutras in Korean Buddhism


  • Yohan Yoo Seoul National University
  • Woncheol Yun Seoul National University



Korean Buddhism, Buddhist sutras, iconic book, miniature scripture


This article argues that miniature sutras allow Korean Buddhists to feel Buddha's presence and protection in their daily lives. Miniature sutras are so small that they are difficult, if not impossible, to read, but these texts are not intended for study. Instead, the mere presence of these miniature sutras is thought to be efficacious. Many Korean Buddhists possess small Buddha statues at home into whose hollow bellies they insert miniature sutras. To those Buddhists, sutras, which are the dharma of the Buddha, activate the statues and turn them into the Buddha himself. In addition, they believe that miniature sutras in their hands or pockets bless them and protect them from evil. Scriptures as the word-body of the Buddha are thought to work for Buddhists irrespective of their semantic content, and without any explicit ritual recitation or repetition.

Author Biographies

Yohan Yoo, Seoul National University

Yohan Yoo, Department of Religious Studies, College of Humanities, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.

Woncheol Yun, Seoul National University

Woncheol Yun, Department of Religious Studies, College of Humanities, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


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How to Cite

Yoo, Y., & Yun, W. (2019). Sutras Working in Buddha’s Belly and Buddhists’ Pockets: Miniature Sutras in Korean Buddhism. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 9(2-3), 269–284.