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Restoration of national treasure pagoda completed

The restoration process of a Goryeo-era stone pagoda -- South Korea’s national treasure No. 209 -- has been completed, the Cultural Heritage Administration said Sunday.

According to the officials, “Stone Pagoda of Casket Seal Dharani,” comprising of five parts, has been dismantled and put back together to more closely resemble its original form.

The structure, designated as a national treasure in 1982, was been found to have been inappropriately assembled during the CHA and Jung-gu Office’s joint research and preservation effort in 2015. More specifically, the direction of three of the five stones was wrong. 

Stone Pagoda of Casket Seal Dharani (The Cultural Heritage Administration)
Stone Pagoda of Casket Seal Dharani (The Cultural Heritage Administration)

The pagoda is also called “Bohyeobin Stupa,” as it enshrines Bohyeobin Dharani Sutra. Its design drew inspiration from the stupas made during the Chinese Wuyue Kingdom (907-978), and is the only extant one of its kind in Korea.

While the stupa was uncovered at the site of an old temple in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, its exact origin is unknown as no record of the temple remains. Based on its structure, experts think the 1.9-meter pagoda dates back to the Goryeo period.

Despite the restoration, the pagoda is still shrouded in mystery, as many of its parts are thought to have disappeared. It is currently impossible to determine its exact form, as its design is unlike the typical Korean-style pagodas that remain today.

By Yoon Min-sik