Not So Hidden Beauty

For the past week or so, for one reason or another, I’ve been playing the role of tour guide for a few people around Busan. 
In that time of sightseeing and guiding, I’ve been reminded how amazingly beautiful the artwork in Korean Buddhist temples can be.  Yes the statues are almost always impressive and stunning, but the small details and tiny flowers painted up in the high reaches of the ceiling always seem to be my favorite.  Like they’re hidden gems of beauty just waiting for you to discover them.

I’ve always loved the colors used in Korean temples.  Especially the bright blues and greens and teals and how they mix with the reds and yellows.  I think that the color palate and the selection of colors for the temple artwork really does make it stand apart from other countries’ temples.  It gives them a distinctively Korean look. 
The temples I saw in China used mostly oranges and reds and yellows.  And while the architecture was intricate, the paint on the buildings and structures was usually much more simple.
Malaysian Buddhist temples draw some similarities to China with a strong red color palate, but their external adornments are still nowhere near as complex as Korea’s. 
Thailand favors a LOT gold in both their statues and their adornments, and even in the paint on the temple walls. 
Maybe it’s just because I’ve visited a lot more Korean temples, but the colors and the artwork seems to draw me in more so than some of the other countries’ temples. 
The work and devotion dedicated to even the smallest rafters really is incredible. You could easily get lost up there in those designs.
I think I might even favor the small little touches more than the big sprawling scenes on the walls.  I also love how much natural imagery is found throughout the temple buildings.  These flowers adorn a temple door at Yonggungsa which is my favorite temple by the sea.  The fact that this temple is already surrounded by such natural beauty and then is further embellished by flowers and birds in the tiniest crevices is great.
I feel more drawn to the art throughout this temple’s grounds than the art in the Busan Museum. 

Maybe it’s the atmosphere of the temples, although I’ve always loved museums, but there’s just something wonderful about free access to great art for everyone, out in the open incensed air. 

From Busan with Arty Love,


5 thoughts on “Not So Hidden Beauty

  1. I very much like your blog, what you say and the pictures you post have managed to make me rather in love with Busan. I am in the planning stages of going to Korea to teach English, and now I shall be somewhat disappointed if I don't find some way to be stationed in this city. Other pictures I have seen of Korea make it look concrete, dull, only half-alive. The pictures you take make it look vibrant. Which leads to a favour I would like to ask: May I use the picture you took of the flower art on the temple? I want it for a blog banner and could not find any in the public domain. I will give you credit.

  2. Hi, thanks for asking! You're welcome to use my photo with credit. I'm glad you like it, and the blog. I also love being on blogrolls. Busan is great, it is my favorite place, but don't worry, Korea is vibrant nation-wide. It is rough around the edges to be sure, and the post-war architecture isn't stunning, but you can find beauty in it regardless of where you end up. I hope things are going well for you!

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