This paper examines the bronze Buddha mold that was excavated from the western pagoda of Hwaŏm temple 華嚴寺. The research centers on the mold’s date of production, its function, and the reason it was enshrined in the Hwaŏmsa pagoda. The pagoda itself was constructed in the ninth century and is considered to be a Dharani pagoda because Wugoujingguang datuoluonijing
(無垢淨光大陀羅尼經, The Great Dharani Sūtra) is enshrined within the structure. The act of placing the Buddhist scriptures in the pagoda was to benefit the structure’s benefactors by absolving them of their sins and granting blessings in their afterlives for their meritorious deeds. Of all the dhāraṇī, Wugoujingguang datuoluonijing
is the most detailed and particularly emphasizes the act of repetition. The clarity and simplicity of its instructions made it especially popular in eighth-to-ninth-century Korea. The Hwaŏmsa Buddha mold was one of the tools used in the ritual described by Wugoujingguang datuoluonijing
. Considering the sūtra’s insistence on repetition and replication, the mold was a very suitable implement. The use of inexpensive clay also allowed for the mass production of Buddha images that any individual could commission at little cost. Furthermore, this method of producing Buddha images made it easy for the temple to attract followers and thus raise funding for the construction of the pagoda. The clay Buddhas themselves were small, making it possible for one to keep the image on his person and carry it wherever he went. Ultimately, these actions were meant to bring the individuals closer to Buddha and his world.
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