[LECTURE] 2015 October Lecture: Korean Buddhist Sculpture within Asian Tradition작성일   2015-09-21

Korean Buddhist Sculpture within Asian Tradition


Lecturer: Kim Lena

Professor Emerita, Hongik University


This lecture is a brief survey of Korean Buddhist sculptures from the Three Kingdoms period to the Joseon Dynasty. One of the most important elements in the formation of Korean culture was the introduction of the Buddhism from China in the late fourth century. Buddhism received supports from the ruling class and greatly influenced people’s everyday lives. Temples were erected, and devotional Buddhist images were enshrined. To understand the common Buddhist iconography and stylistic development comparisons will be made in relation to Indian, Chinese and Japanese images. Similarities and differences will be referred with relevant foreign images and characteristic Korean features will be pointed out. Buddhist culture gradually gained popularity and flourished during the Unified Silla Dynasty reaching to its height of development in the eighth century. It was the period of International Buddhist culture with Tang China playing a major role sharing common features in art and practice with the Unified Silla Korea and Nara Japan.

 During the Goryeo Dynasty Buddhism continued to play an active role in the society. Goryeo Buddhist sculptures, first continued the Unified Silla tradition, but gradually new elements coming from Liao and Sung China entered. In the late Goryeo sculpture Tibet-influenced Yuan sculpture began to assert its influence since Goryeo was closely tied with the Yuan court.  

 With the advent of the Joseon Dynasty, the government officially suppressed Buddhism, nevertheless, it continued to be worshipped among court ladies and commoners. After the Hideyoshi invasion at the end of the 16th century Buddhism met its revival as a result of active participation of the Buddhist community to defeat the invading Japanese armies. Buddhism became more popular for commoners. Korean Buddhist sculpture no longer looked for its model from China but developed its own characteristic features revealing unique Korean aesthetic value.

Professor Kim Lena graduated from Seoul National University majoring in history. She continued her graduate studies in art history at Harvard University and received M.A, and Ph.D. Her major field is Buddhist art, with special interests in the comparative studies of Korean Buddhist sculptures with related Indian, Chinese and Japanese images. She has been teaching at Hongik University since 1974 and is retired now. She has actively participated in art history communities and has been a member of the Advisory Committee of the Administration of Cultural Heritage and the ICOMOS-Korea.

Her major publication in English includes the co-authored book Arts of Korea (Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1974). Buddhist Sculpture of Korea (Hollym, 2007, Korea Foundation Publication Series). She also wrote a part in the exhibition catalogues Arts of Korea (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998) and Transmitting the Forms of Divinity:  Early Buddhist Art from Korea and Japan (Japan Society, New York, 2003). Her major Korean publications are Hangukgodae bulgyo jogaksayeongu (A Study of the Ancient  Korean Buddhist Sculptures, Ilchogak, Seoul, 1989, revised in 2015), Hanguk godae jogaksa yeongu (Comparative Study of Ancient Korean Buddhist Sculptures, Munyechulpansa, 2003) and her recent book(co-authored) is Hanguk bulgyo misula (Korean Buddhist Art, Mijinsa, 2011).





Education room (1st floor), Seoul Museum of History

55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Date and Time

October 5th, 2015 (Mon)

11:30 A.M. to 13:00 P.M



Lunch Fee (optional)

10,000 won(Sandwich & drink)

* Reservation for lunch is required.

* Donation receipt can be issued.

* Wire transfer to KEB a/c#631-000503-181 (YÉOL) or at the venue in cash

Contact (Registration required)


T: 02-745-5878