Exquisite Buddhist Scroll Is Sealed Inside Statue of Buddha at Claremont Lincoln University
A gold-leaf-and-dear-musk scroll created by an artist designated as a Korean “National Treasure” was recently sealed inside a statue of the Buddha during a special private ceremony at Claremont Lincoln University.
Modern Buddhism, a New York-based magazine, and its publisher for 22 years, Mr. Hyoung Keun Kim, had donated the statue of the Buddha to Claremont Lincoln University back in November 2011, to honor its new model for the desegregation of religious higher education. He then commissioned Mr. Kyeong Ho Kim of Seoul to create a special Buddhist scroll to be made for placement into the base of the statue.
Mr. Kyeong Ho Kim is an Authorized Scriber of Buddhist Sacred Writ and has been officially designated as a Korean “National Treasure” for his brilliant artistry. This is the first time that Mr. Hyoung Keun Kim has donated one of his pieces of art to an American institution.
Recently, the Center for Process Study’s Korea Project hosted a private ceremony for the scroll’s placement. Mr. Kyeong Ho Kim came from Seoul for the occasion, and the Ven. Chong Won of Los Angeles, gave the blessing. On behalf of Claremont Lincoln University, Provost Philip Clayton welcomed the Korean guests and thanked them for the honor of their visit and their most valuable gift of a hand-written sacred text of Buddhism.
The scroll begins: “Most Merciful Bodhisattva….” The text was written on a narrow, 4.5-meter rice-paper scroll with a hand-made metal pen holding an ink mixture of gold leaf and dear musk. The work must be performed in a very hot room (95 °F) to prevent the ink from drying too rapidly. It took three months to complete the scroll.
During the placement ceremony, Mr. Kyeong Ho Kim wore gloves to unroll the scroll for the guests to see, while photos were taken. He then re-rolled it and carefully placed it in the base of the statue, which he then sealed up with plaster.
Human eyes can no longer view the exquisite scroll. All that is left are the photos from the ceremony and the pictures in the minds of the people who were there. It is a poignant and beautiful example of non-attachment.
The statue of Buddha will hold a place of honor in the Claremont Lincoln University Library, as soon as a proper display case can be made.
A short historical context:
Scroll printing was banned in Korea six centuries ago when the country became officially Confucian. The art continued to be practiced privately, however. Scrolls were sent to China, whose culture and customs spread out toward the Middle East, so that, eventually, the art of Buddhist scroll making found parallels in Islamic and Christian illuminated manuscripts.
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