Abstract

This paper examines the identity and historical context of an enigmatic image from Pulgok, a religious site on Mount Nam from the Silla period in Korea. It examines both the image and its frame, a cave-shaped niche, in an attempt to focus on the latter’s role as an integral part of the entire representational scheme. The Pulgok image, rendered in a fashion unique among works of Korean Buddhist art, reflects the idea of meditation inside a cave, a revered practice with a long history in Buddhist circles, and is related to the depiction of the Awakened as a keeper and transmitter of the Buddha’s teaching.

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