A thousand years ago, work commenced on Korea’s first woodcut Tripitaka, the “Chojo Daejanggyeong” or “the First-edition Tripitaka Koreana.” Tripitaka (Daejanggyeong) is the collection of “Gyeongjang (Sutra Pitaka),” the compilation of Buddha’s utterances, “Yuljang (Vinaya Pitaka),” the record of Buddhist precepts and “Nonjang (Abhidhamma Pitaka),” the translation of what Buddha said. It was during the Goguryeo era in the 4th century that Buddhism was first introduced to Korea. It steadily developed over the eras of Baekje and Silla to reach its heyday during the Goryeo era.
With the background of this Buddhist culture and in the face of the frequent invasions by the Khitan, Goryeo’s excellent scientific technologies, the art of printing and economic power were combined to create “Tripitaka Koreana,” which embodies Goryeo people’s desire to overcome those invasions through the mercy of Buddha.
Work on the First-edition Tripitaka Koreana began in the 2nd year of King Hyeonjong’s reign (the year 1011) during the Goryeo dynasty and its first engraving on woodblocks was accomplished in the 4th year of King Seonjong’s reign (the year 1029). The engraving resumed in 1046 and was completed in 1087. Based on the Gaebopan Tripitaka (the year 971) during the Northern Song dynasty, the world’s first woodcut Tripitaka, as well as referencing a selection of other Tripitakas in circulation during those days, the First-edition Tripitaka Koreana was created as Goryeo’s own unique Tripitaka. The superb cultural and academic foundations of those times resulted in the great feat of manufacturing “Gyojang,” the collection of Scriptures and Commentaries on the Tripitaka – the only one in the world. Currently, about 3,000 fascicles of the First-edition Tripitaka Koreana exist, holding a high bibliographical value. As the First-edition Tripitaka Koreana, stored at the Buin Temple in Palgong Mountain located in Daegu, was destroyed by fire in 1232 when Mongols invaded Korea, Jaejo Daejanggyeong (the Second-edition Tripitaka Koreana) was created from the 23th year (the year 1236) to the 38th year (the year 1251) of the reign of King Gojong of the Goryeo dynasty, which finally completed the 240-year-long, mammoth project of Tripitaka Koreana.
Title: 2011 Millennial Anniversary of the Tripitaka Koreana
Date of Issue: 23 September 2011
Country: South Korea
Denominations: 250 won