Thursday, February 20, 6 pm
Korean Cultural Center, Washington, DC
Friday, February 21, 9:00 am–5 pm
Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
A single object—a beautiful gilt wood sculpture of Gwaneum, the bodhisattva of compassion and the most popular deity in Korean Buddhism—is the focus of this symposium. Carved in the late Goryeo period (918–1392), this crowned image is now known to be the oldest surviving Korean gilded wood figure in an informal pose. Sacred texts and potent symbolic objects were sealed inside this hollow religious sculpture when it was first placed into worship in the thirteenth century. Bokjang, the practice of adding dedication material to a Buddhist sculpture during consecration ceremonies, was believed to transform it into a living body.
This symposium, organized in conjunction with the exhibition Sacred Dedication: A Korean Buddhist Masterpiece, examines recent research findings surrounding the sculpture and its dedication materials. It also places Korean image consecration practice in a broader East Asian context. Speakers discuss living traditions of making religious images and consecration ceremonies in contemporary Korean Buddhism.
The event is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. The keynote address and reception on Thursday, February 20, are hosted by the Korean Cultural Center.
An English-language version of all papers is available at the keynote and symposium.
Registration is required to these free events.
Participants are also encouraged to attend the related Korean Buddhist Dedication Demonstration on Saturday afternoon, February 22, organized in conjunction with the exhibition Sacred Dedication: A Korean Buddhist Masterpiece.