Sŏkkuram (literally, “Stone Grotto Chapel”) is a mid-8th century lapidary Buddhist sanctuary near Kyŏngju, South Korea, created during the Unified Silla period (668-935 CE). With its domed rear section buried to create a cave-like effect, this extraordinary ashlar masonry temple is constructed of a rectangular antechamber, a narrow vaulted corridor, and a rotunda sanctum featuring a granite sculpture of the Buddha, placed imposingly at the center for circumambulatory worship.
In regard to its unique architectural configuration, Kim will attempt to trace its origin to the extent of the Iranian tradition developed under the Parthians (ca. 250 BCE-ca. 224 CE) and the Sassanians (224-642 CE). Similar rock-cut Buddhist monasteries in Kucha (Xinjiang) will be discussed as cognate cases in point.
Kim specializes in Chinese art and architecture between the Han and Six Dynasties (206 BCE-589 CE), particularly in relation to Buddhism. His research encompasses the pan-Buddhist world in its entirety. As a result, he is interested in the relationships within and among cultures in Eurasia. Korea is also a prominent concern throughout his research.
He is currently working on two book-length monographs tentatively titled Sculpture for Worship: Buddhism and The Cult of Statues in Early Medieval China and The Art of Buddhist Antiquarianism: Buddhist Epigraphic Data from Third- to Fourth-Century China.
Free and open to the public, Kim’s lecture is sponsored by the Asian Studies Program, Department of History, Department of History of Art, and Department of Religious Studies. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East. For more information, call the Asian Studies Program at 615.322.7329.