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Traditional Buddhist Mountain Temples of Korea

Date de soumission : 12/12/2013
Critères: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Catégorie : Culturel
Soumis par :
Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Korea to UNESCO
État, province ou région :
Provinces of Jeollanam-do, Jeollanam-do, Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Ref.: 5850

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Les noms des biens figurent dans la langue dans laquelle les États parties les ont soumis.


Name of Cluster

Province or Region




Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do Province

34 59 47.66N

127 19 52.11E


Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do Province

34 28 34.85N

126 37 00.45E


Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do Province

36 32 30.97N

127 49 59.10E


Gongju-si, Chungcheongnam-do Province

36 33 32.27N

127 00 44.28E


Yangsan-si, Gyeongsangnam-do Province

35 29 16.66N

129 03 54.28E


Yeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province

35 39 11.64N

128 39 43.87E


Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province

36 59 55.80N

128 41 14.76E

Buddhism was imported to the Korean peninsula in the 4th century and the ancient kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla respectively acknowledged the religion officially. Since then Buddhism prospered as the national religion for over 1,000 years until the end of the Goryeo dynasty. The many Buddhist temples that were built in the 5-6th centuries under the strong patronage of the state contributed to the import of Buddhist culture, architectural technology and style from the continent. Buddhism of Korea adhered to the religious doctrines imported from India through China, but the religion combined together with the existing indigenous beliefs and started to develop the unique style of Korean Buddhist temples.

The traditional belief of revering mountains formed a combination with Buddhism, and establishing temples in the great mountains of the land became popular. Temples placed on mountains adapted to the topography of the land and the composition and layout of the buildings evolved into various different forms. The ideals of Seon (禪, Zen) Buddhism was introduced around 8-9th centuries, and aided in the relocation of Buddhist temples to mountainous, secluded areas rather than being in the midst of a city. This also promoted the formation of a particular style of mountain Buddhist temple layout.

Ideas and concepts to maximize the topographical advantages became widespread and a collection of these thoughts were gradually cumulated and theoretically compiled into a geomancy theory called ‘pungsu’. According to pungsu theories, the yin and yang ener­gies and the five elements of the universe produce positive energy to the earth, and certain points that excel in collecting this positive energy are considered auspicious sites. Pungsu had a great effect on Korea where the land is mostly mountainous.

Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) adopted Confucianism as its state ideal and Buddhism suffered harsh oppressions during this time. Temples which were originally located in cit­ies could no longer continue its functions. Only those located in mountainous areas were able to survive. The many theoretical and doctrinal developments that expanded during the previous 1,000 years of prosperity, slowly merged into one, forming the Tong Buddhist doctrine (Tong 通 meaning consolidation or integration). Architectural layouts and spatial composition of these mountain temples followed suite of the doctrinal developments.

Mountain temples follow a long winding entrance path up the hill, which leads into the main worship area and the living areas. The buildings are laid out in a square, forming an inner courtyard in the middle. Looking from the outside, the square cluster of buildings blocks the viewer to look inside. However because the buildings are located on an uprise hill, the highest main building forming the square has a commanding open view of the rest of the mountain. In these squares the most important hall is placed on the top, and halls for meditation, everyday living areas for monks, and a pavilion form the other three sides. The square and the inner courtyard of the main shrine of worship are placed in the center of the entire temple. Mountain temples appropriately utilize the peaks in the background and the topographical features to embody the certain doctrine that it mainly pursues. Also the temple is laid out following specific axis(es) being interconnected with the valley stream.

The temples can also be divided into areas according the specific functions of the buildings. There are buildings housing the Buddha or bodhisattvas, lecture halls to learn the Buddhist scripts and doctrines, and living areas for the monks and the worshippers. The temples house the tangible and intangible aspects of Buddhism and function as com­prehensive ascetic facilities. Respecting the Buddha, conducting rituals, chanting the sutras, and meditating all takes place within the temples.

The mountain temples of Seonamsa, Daeheungsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa, Tongdosa, Bongjeongsa and Buseoksa were all established during the Three Kingdoms period, but were standardized in their layout and forms after the mid-Joseon Dynasty. These temples show the essence of Korean mountain temples with their diverse axes and their harmony with the surrounding valleys, also continuing on with their comprehensive functions of a religious facility.

1) Seonamsa Temple (仙巖寺)

Seonamsa Temple is located at San 802, Jukhak-ri, Seungju-eup, Suncheon-si, Jeolla­nam-do Province. It consists of approximately 20 buildings and 4 affiliated temples (amja). It is said that the Great Monk Ado started the temple in 527. It is known to have been reestablished in the 9th century by the National Monk Doseon. As the headquarters of the Taego Order of Korean Buddhism, the buildings are quite large and the temple is charac­terized by its multi-layered square planned buildings with inner courtyards. As the temple was established over the period of 200 years, the layout takes on the form similar to that of a rural village.

Seonamsa is composed of four areas: Daeungjeon Hall area, Wontongjeon Hall area, Eungjindang Hall area, and the Gakhwangjeon Hall area. These areas are all separated and have a certain degree of independence from each other utilizing the height differ­ences of the ground elevations. The appropriate use of laying out buildings maximizing the small and slanting land, also gives consideration to the vertical and horizontal flow within the temple. Seonamsa was built upon the doctrinal essence of the Lotus Sutra (Sad­dharma Pundarika Sutra), and has twin stupas in the inner court of the main hall area.

2) Daeheungsa Temple (大興寺)

Daeheungsa is located at 799 Gurim-ri, Samseon-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do Province, and has approximately 45 buildings within its compound. As the Duryunsan Mountain where the temple sits used to be called Daedunsan Mountain in the past, the temple also used to be called Daedunsa. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the temple retained its name of Daeheungsa.

The temple sits on a spacious basin dividing up the land into four areas. Daeungjeon Hall area, Cheonbuljeon Hall area, Pyochungsa Shrine area, and the Daegwangmyeongjeon Hall area. Pyochungsa Shrine and Daegwangmyeongjeon Hall were established at a later date than the other two areas and functions as a branch to the main temple.

Daeheungsa was originally composed of southern and northern quarters, sepa­rated by the stream. In the northern quarter, encircling the Daeungbojeon, build­ings of Myeongbujeon, Eungjinjeon, Sansingak, Chimgyeru, and Baekseoldang are positioned. In the southern quarter, buildings center around the Cheonbuljeon Hall. Pyochungsa that enshrines the Great Monk Samyeong sits to the far back of the southern quarter, together with the Daegwangmyeongjeon. Daeheungsa is unique for its layout where the stream divides the temple area right through the middle.

3) Beopjusa Temple (法住寺)

Beopjusa is in 209 Sanae-ri, Naesokri-myeon, Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do Province. It has approximately 30 buildings and 10 separate affiliated temples. Beopjusa embodies the doctrines of the Maitreya belief and the Hwaom ideal. Maitreya belief has the characteristic of placing the main shrines and objects of beliefs in a straight line. The Daeungjeon represents the Hwaom ideals and the Yonghwabojeon represents the Maitreya ideals. The two axes meet in a perpendicular angle where the Palsangjeon Hall sits. Each of the axes faces the Gwaneumbong Peak and the Sujeongbong Peak, both names connecting to the corresponding beliefs. Beopjusa shows the outstanding interpretation and utilization of the existing topography to fit the doctrinal hierarchy. The two axes of the temple each represent the separate ideals but are masterfully integrated in the layout. The temple also sits in the land of Buddha which can be interpreted as being surrounded by the 8 petals of the lotus.

4) Magoksa Temple (麻谷寺)

Sitting in 567, Unam-ri, Sagok-myeon, Gongju-si, Chungcheongnam-do Province, Magoksa is composed of 20 buildings and 3 affiliate temples. Magoksa is separated into the southern and northern quarters by the stream flowing through the temple. Each space is too confined to house both the Yeongsanjeon area and the Daeungbojeon area. Therefore giving due consideration to the size of each space and the flow of topography, the Daeungbojeon of the north faces southwest, while Yeongsanjeon of the south faces southeast, with the axes meeting in a right angle. However the two gates that connect the quarters gradually turn their angles, easing the entrance into the following area. The temple does not attempt to lead the visitors in a straight line, which would result in en­tering the main area sideways, but gradually twists the entrance road through the gates.

5) Tongdosa Temple (通度寺)

Tongdosa in 583 Jisan-ri, Habuk-myeon, Yangsan-si, Gyeongsangnam-do Province is composed of 59 buildings and 20 separate affiliate temples. As one of the Jewel temples of Korea, Tongdosa is the temple that represents the Buddha. Established in 648 by the great monk Jajang, the temple houses the relics of Buddha, the sarira and his robe, together with the first collection of Buddhist sutras. The temple fully taking its form during the Goryeo dynasty can be divided into three separate areas and an axis that connects all three areas. Daeungjeon Hall of the upper area where the relics of Buddha are kept has unique architectural values as all four sides portray its centrality. Tongdosa faithfully exhibits the values of the Tong Buddhism doctrine where the three areas each represent different doctrinal beliefs and objects of worship.

6) Bongjeongsa Temple (鳳停寺)

Bongjeongsa is located in 901 Taejang-ri, Seohu-myeon, Andong-si, Gyeongsang­buk-do Province with 36 buildings and 3 separate affiliated temples. It is known to be built in 672 by the Great Monk Neungin, later made prosperous by Uisang who built the Hwaom lecture hall to teach his followers. Writings documenting the repair of the roof parts of Geuknakjeon Hall in 1363 were found, proving the building to be the old­est wooden structure in Korea. Buildings such as Daeungjeon, Hwaomgangdang (lecture hall), Gogeumdang are well preserved and the flowing context connecting the main build­ing, courtyard, Manseru pavilion out towards the surrounding mountains is exquisite.

7) Buseoksa Temple (浮石寺)

Situated in 148 Bukji-ri, Buseok-myeon, Yeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, Buseoksa has 25 buildings and a separate affiliated temple. The temple was established by Monk Uisang to spread his beliefs on the Hwaom doctrine. The architectural layout well embodies the doctrinal system and belief of the Hwaom sect. The layout of major buildings, the architectural style of Muryangsujeon Hall, and the interpretation of the sur­rounding landscape to match the features of the fundamentals of Hwaom, places Buseoksa as an outstanding example of mountain temples. The scenery that encompasses the Any­angru Pavilion and Muryangsujeon Hall that actively engages the different ground levels are counted as the epitome of Korean architecture. Buildings tracing back to the Goryeo dynasty (910-1392) such as Muryangsujeon and Josadang are well protected, together with other numerous artifacts.

Justification de la Valeur Universelle Exceptionnelle

The temples preserve the original form of Buddhism that started from India, following the Chinese style but expressing the unique format and space that embodies Korean indigenous elements. The topographical feature of mountainous terrain also played an important role in formulating the traditional Korean temple layout. Korean temple architecture composes its inner and outer areas in harmonic balance with the surrounding landscape. These temples are comprehensive religious facili­ties that contain the Tong Buddhist ideal that can only be found in Korea encompassing both the Seon (Meditation) School and the Gyo (Doctrinal) School. The functions, rituals, monks, living and cultural aspects of the temples are inherited and sustained.

Criterion (ii): From the ancient periods, Korea continuously maintained relations with the East Asian countries and upon these interchange accepted the various Buddhist doctrines and culture. These newly introduced ideas soon adapted to the beliefs and emotions indigenous to Korea and developed into a unique form. On the basis of the religious interchange, Ko­rean temples were built based upon the East Asian Buddhist style but developing a unique architectural layout and space only found in the temples of Korea.

Criterion (iii): Traditional Korean mountain temples show the overall historic development process of Buddhism in Korea and at the same time is testimony to the traditional Korean architec­tural style and space. The temples are especially important in tracing the paths employed by Buddhism during the Confucian Joseon period, through the location, layout of build­ings, and the names and functions of the buildings.

Critrion (iv): The organic architecture of the Korean traditional mountain temples in concor­dance to the natural environment created the temple structure typology. The temples are especially influenced by Pungsu and materialized the ideals of coadjustment for the mutual existence of human and nature. Through the Joseon dynasty these ideals con­tinued to flourish and by considering heaven, earth and human as a unified being, cre­ated an awareness to make the living land become auspicious. The Buddhist mountain temples are considered to be an archetype portraying the traditional aesthetics of Korea, which combines the natural environment and the traditional architecture in harmony.

Critrion (vi): Korean traditional mountain temples embody the Tong Buddhist ideal and practice that is only prevalent in Korea. The temples are comprehensive facilities which function as a place for ritual, monks, living and culture still encompassing diverse Buddhist cultural heritage and spaces. These rituals, spaces and functions are still being carried on.

Déclarations d’authenticité et/ou d’intégrité

Traditional Buddhist mountain temples preserve the material architectural heritage and the ideals that stemmed from both Buddhist and indigenous beliefs. The architecture maintains the original location, style of setting, and the religious spirit and feeling of the heritage creating a Buddhist land on earth.

As a serial property, all seven temples have established their layout at least two centu­ries ago during the Joseon dynasty, embodying the Tong Buddhist thoughts. The structural and functional layouts of the buildings are preserved and the order of the main worship area is well maintained.

All the necessary elements from the entrance path, main worship area, and the living area are included in the temple grounds maintaining the integrity of the property. The natural elements forming part of the temple such as the valleys and mountainous ranges are also well protected showing the important factors of the traditional mountain temples.

Since the mid-20th century, the temples are protected on the basis of the Cultural Heritage Protection Act preventing the deterioration of the architecture or the surround­ing landscape and well maintaining the historic layers. These temples are also still ac­tively functioning Buddhist temples carrying on the tradition as religious places of wor­ship. As they are geographically located in mountainous areas, they have not been affected by the development pressures from surrounding areas, keeping the periodical layers and characteristics through the temple sites, paintings, stone structures and Buddhist statues.

Comparaison avec d’autres biens similaires

Similar Properties in Korea

In Korea a total of 938 traditional temples are recognized by law. There are numerous and diverse temples preserving the history and uniqueness of temple layouts. However con­sidering all aspects of complying with the Outstanding Universal Value of the traditional mountain temples of Korea embodying Tong Buddhist doctrines with the conditions of authenticity and integrity, and the state of conservation of the properties, there are many temples that pose difficulties to be included. Temples such as Silleuksa, Donghwasa, Song­gwangsa, Haeinsa, Hwaomsa, Silsangsa, and Beomoesa could be counted as these temples. These temples are representative temples of Korea in their history, size, Buddhist doctrine that they follow, and their location and architectural style. However many of these temples have witnessed distortion in their main axes with new modern buildings introduced to the temple grounds, and unruly extensions of the temple area. The seven temples selected for the tentative list nomination fully display the Outstanding Universal Value, representing Korean traditional Buddhist architecture and its history, also maintaining the authenticity and integrity in their state of conservation.

Songgwangsa located in Suncheon-si of Jeollanam-do Province, is one of the Three Jewel Temples of Korea together with Haeinsa and Tongdosa. Known as the Temple of Sangha, 16 State Monks came forth from Songgwangsa. Surviving through the Japanese invasions in the 16th century, Yeosun Incident and the Korean War in the modern era, the temple lost a magnitude of buildings and almost all of the main worship areas were destroyed. Although the temple preserves its unique layout portraying the essence of the Avatamsaka Sutra and some traditional buildings such as the Guksadang, Hasadang, Yak­sajeon, Yeongsanjeon and living quarters for monks, most of the current standing struc­tures were established in the 1980s when the temple underwent full scale reconstruction.

Hwaeomsa located on the southern foot of Jirisan Mountain, is one of the ten Hwaom temples of Korea. It is known to have been established in the 8th century and the stone inscriptions of the Avatamsaka Sutra were made in this temple. During the 15th century the temple changed from following the Doctrinal School to the Meditation School. The temple also suffered damage from the Japanese invasions in the 16th century but was soon reestablished by renowned monks in the following years. As one of the main temples fol­lowing the Meditation School there are many aspects showing this style but also those characters that attest to the Doctrinal School of before such as the twin stupas in the courtyard.

The temple shows the main axis changing from an East-West axis to a North-South axis as the temple expanded its grounds. However the recent changes to the temple including large-scale temple-stay facilities in the entrance area, changes in the foundation stoneworks, and changes in the entrance path have adversely changed the scenic and tradi­tional atmosphere of the temple.

Unjusa in Hwasun-gun of Jeollanam-do Province was established during the Silla Kingdom, and was practically demolished after the Japanese invasions of the 16th century. Being reestablished in the 18th century the temple is handed down until this day. The main features of Unjusa are the stone statues and stupas that are scattered amongst the low rise hills and the valley of the temple. The stone sculptures famously called “Cheonbul cheontap (Thousand Buddhas and Thousand Stupas)” are diverse in their size, style and form. The aesthetic style of the sculptures probably executed by untrained artists truthfully shows the folkloristic sense of beauty. The style breaking away from the set regularity, sim­plicity overriding formality, and the folkloristic humorous style displayed in the individual sculptures that are placed together within the grounds of Unjusa is the unique value only found here.

As Unjusa displays the exclusive characteristics and values independently, it is recom­mended that the temple seek nomination on the World Heritage List separately, and not as a part of the traditional mountain temples of Korea.

Similar Korean Properties on the World Heritage List

Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple (Criteria i, iv)

Established in the 8th century under the Silla Kingdom on the slopes of Mount To­hamsan, Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple form a religious architectural complex of exceptional significance. Prime Minister Kim Dae-seong initiated and supervised the construction of the temple and the grotto, the former built in memory of his parents in his present life and the latter in memory of his parents from a previous life.

The artificial grotto constructed of granite that comprises an antechamber, a corridor and a main rotunda enshrining a monumental statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha. Together with the portrayals of devas, bodhisattvas and disciples, sculpted in high and low relief on the surrounding walls, the statues are considered to be a masterpiece of East Asian Bud­dhist art. The domed ceiling of the rotunda and the entrance corridor employed an innova­tive construction technique that involved the use of more than 360 stone slabs. Together with Bulguksa Temple the property is a masterpiece of the Silla Kingdom displaying all aspects of architecture, mathematics, religion and art.

Gyeongju Historic Areas (Criteria ii, iii)

The Gyeongju Historic Areas contain a remarkable concentration of outstanding ex­amples of Korean Buddhist art, in the form of sculptures, reliefs, pagodas, and the remains of temples and palaces from the flowering culture of Silla dynasty, in particular between the 7th and 10th century. The property comprises five distinct areas situated in the centre of Gyeongju and in its suburbs.

The Mount Namsan Belt lies to the north of the city and covers 2,650 ha. The Bud­dhist monuments that have been excavated at the time of inscription include the ruins of 122 temples, 53 stone statues, 64 pagodas and 16 stone lanterns. Excavations have also revealed the remains of the pre-Buddhist natural and animistic cults of the region. 36 individual monuments, including rock-cut reliefs or engravings, stone images and heads, pagodas, royal tombs and tomb groups, wells, a group of stone banner poles, the Namsan Mountain Fortress, the Poseokjeong Pavilion site and the Seochulji Pond, exist within this area. The Buddhist monuments of this area comprises an important part in displaying the entire city of Gyeongju, which was the capital city of Silla for a thousand years. The Gyeongju Historic Areas contain a number of sites and monuments of exceptional signifi­cance in the development of Buddhist and secular architecture in Korea.

Similar Properties Abroad

Buddhist temples are predominantly located in Asia. They can be widely divided into those following Theravada Buddhism prevalent in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and those following Mahayana Buddhism mostly in East Asia. Southeast Asian temples that fol­low the branch of Theravada Buddhism greatly differ in their location, architectural style, function, and layout. The temples of China or Japan following Mahayana Buddhism are similar in their appearance with the temples of Korea. However the mountainous location, square shape layout with the inner courtyard, and the architectural style are very different. China and Japan have abundant examples of temples located in the middle of the city or on flat land rather than on mountainous terrain, and the geometric layouts on a straight line axis are the main differences from Korean mountainous temples which diverge through the valleys. Also the Korean temples are evidence of the Tong Buddhist ideal embodying characteristics from both the Doctrinal School and the Meditation School which is dif­ferent from the temples of other countries where the temple has a main line of worship.

Mount Wutai, China (Criteria ii, iii, iv, vi)

In the north eastern part of Shanxi Province, Mount Wutai with its five flat peaks is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. It is seen as the global centre for Buddhist Manjusri worship. Over 100 temples and shrines in the property compose the heritage inscribed on the World Heritage List in an area over 18,415 ha. The mountain is the destination for the Buddhist pilgrimage from all over China, India, and Tibet.

Mount Wutai was the first amongst the sacred Buddhist mountains to have tem­ples established, and although 360 of them were lost over the long history, the remain­ing 100 or so temples well maintain their authenticity and integrity. Especially the East Main Hall of Foguang Temple, with life size clay sculptures, and the Ming Dy­nasty Shuxiang Temple with a huge complex of 500 suspension statues, represent­ing Buddhist stories woven into three dimensional pictures of mountains and wa­ter are remarkable. The temples are inseparable from their mountain landscape.

Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in the “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”, China (Criteria iii, iv)

Close to the city of Dengfeng in Henan province and spread over a 40 square-kilome­tre circle, stand eight clusters of buildings and sites including the Shaolin Temple and its environment in 825 ha. Constructed over the course of nine dynasties, the property keeps the history of 2000 years.

Mount Songshan is considered to be the central sacred mountain of China. At the foot of this 1500 metre high mountain, close to the city of Dengfeng in Henan province and spread over a 40 km2 circle, stand eight clusters of buildings and sites, including three Han Que gates, temples, the Zhougong Sundial Platform and the Dengfeng Observatory.

Shaolin Temple is where the Bodhi Dharma, founder of Zen Sect of Buddhism, medi­tated facing the wall for nine years, becoming the centre of the Meditation School. The brick pagodas of renowned monks show the history of the temple. The various buildings are reflections of different ways of perceiving the centre of heaven and earth and the power of the mountain as a centre for religious devotion.

Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area, Japan (Criteria ii, iii, iv, vi)

The Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area of Nara refers to an area of 15ha centering on the Horyu-ji Temple established in the 7th century by the Prince Regent Sho­toku. There are 48 architectural structures and over 20 of them are protected as national heritage.

The Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji area are the earliest Buddhist monu­ments in Japan, dating from shortly after the introduction of Buddhism to the coun­try, and had a profound influence on subsequent religious architecture. They repre­sent the adaptation of Chinese Buddhist architecture and temple layout to Japanese culture and the subsequent development of a distinct indigenous style. There are a number of structures dating from the Aska and other periods, that also preserved its history even during the Buddhist oppression of the Meiji period. The temple is di­vided into the Shi-in and To-in placing the stupa and the main shrine in the center.

Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, Japan (Criteria ii, iv)

Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its foundation in the 8th century until the middle of the 19th century. As the centre of Japanese culture for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto illustrates the development of Japanese wooden architecture, particularly religious architecture, and the art of Japanese gardens, which has influenced landscape gardening the world over. Buddhism had already been introduced from China and Chinese culture was having a profound influence on Japan when the capital was moved from Nara to Kyoto in 794. Properties on the World Heritage site that date from the foundation of Heian-kyo are Karmwakeikauchi-jinja (Shinto shrine), Amomioya-jinja (Shinto shrine), Kyo-o-gokoku­ji To-ji (Buddhist temple), Kiyornim-dera (Buddhist temple), and Enryaku-ji (Buddhist temple); the two large Buddhist temples of Daigo-ji and Ninna-ji are representative of the early Heian period.

Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land, Japan (Criteria ii, iv)

Hiraizumi features vestiges of government offices dating from the 11th and 12th cen­turies when Hiraizumi was the administrative centre of the northern realm of Japan and rivalled Kyoto. The realm was based on the cosmology of Pure Land Buddhism, which spread to Japan in the 8th century. It represented the pure land of Buddha that people aspire to after death, as well as peace of mind in this life. In combination with indigenous Japanese nature worship and Shintoism, Pure Land Buddhism developed a concept of planning and garden design that was unique to Japan. The four gardens were built by the ôshû Fujiwara family, the northern branch of the ruling clan, as symbolic manifestations of the Buddhist Pure Land on this earth, a vision of paradise translated into reality.

The Pure Land gardens of Hiraizumi, focusing on the sacred mountain Mount Kinkeisan, exemplify a fusion between the ideals of Pure Land Buddhism and indige­nous Japanese concepts relating to the relationship between gardens, water and the sur­rounding landscape. The Pure Land thought is not only living in the architectural space and style but also in the religious rituals and the traditional folk arts. The heavily gild­ed temple of Chûson-ji, reflects the great wealth of the golden culture of Hiraizumi.

Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka (Criteria i, iv)

The ensemble of Dambulla is an outstanding example of the religious art and expres­sion of Sri Lanka and South and South-East Asia. The excavated shrine-caves, their painted surfaces and statuary are unique in scale and degree of preservation. The monastery includes significant masterpieces of 18th century art, in the Sri Lankan school of Kandy. It has been a sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, and the cave monastery with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paint­ings (covering an area of 2,100 m2) are of particular importance, as are the 157 statues.

Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur, Bangladesh (Criteria i, ii, iv)

Evidence of the rise of Mahayana Buddhism in Bengal from the 7th century onwards, Somapura Mahavira, or the Great Monastery, was a renowned intellectual centre until the 12th century. Its layout perfectly adapted to its religious function, this monastery-city rep¬resents a unique artistic achievement. With its simple, harmonious lines and its profusion of carved decoration, it influenced Buddhist architecture as far away as Cambodia.

The Paharpur Vihara is quadrangular in form, with a colossal temple of a cross-shaped floor plan in the centre of the courtyard and with an elaborate gateway complex on the north. There are 45 cells on the north and 44 in each of the other three sides, making a total number of 177 monastic cells along the enclosure walls on the four sides. This layout, and the decoration of carved stones and terracotta plaques, reflects the building's religious function, which is greatly influenced by Buddhist architecture from Cambodia and Java (Indonesia). This 7th century archaeological find covers an area of about 11 ha. The entire establishment, which occupies a quadrangular court measuring more than 275m, exter¬nally on each side, has high enclosure-walls about 5m thick and 3-5m high.