Korean expert on hand-copied Buddhist texts visits Yale with extensive exhibit

- through Henry Oudin

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From wshu.com

Kim Kyeong-Ho, an expert in sagyeong, hand reproduction of Buddhist sutras, will oversee an exhibition of his works and other handwritten Buddhist texts at Yale University. The exhibition, entitled Copying Sacred Texts – A Spiritual Practice, runs until August 11 and is open to the public. Live screenings of his work will take place at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University.

Kim began his career when he was a child and has continued it for over 50 years. Today he is one of the main sagyeong world experts. Kim says he draws inspiration from illuminated manuscripts produced by Christian monks in the Middle Ages, as well as Islamic calligraphy. Sometimes symbols of other religions can be found in its sumptuous manuscripts.

“The basic tradition in the East and West of transcribing the words of the saints – the mindset and spirituality behind it is fundamentally the same,” he explained. “Everyone, all the scribes, did this as a form of spiritual practice. (T)he Bible, the Koran and sacred texts such as the Buddhist scriptures of the East, they all come together in the same way. (WSHU)

With his brush, Kim reproduces not only the written characters of each manuscript, but also the images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas and other iconography that adorn each page. Kim's work is so careful that the slightest disturbance can cause an error.

At koreaherald.com

“When I touch the paper and accidentally breathe, the 0,1 millimeter area can become a three millimeter area,” Kim said. “And when we use this brush, we make sure that it is almost vertical to the surface. » (WSHU)

For Kim, such mistakes require a complete reboot. As such, he works slowly and methodically, placing each new brushstroke with care. A single line can take several minutes, he said, describing the process as an “aesthetic of slowness.” (WSHU)

“So I lost a lot of contact during the 10 days I didn’t pick up a paintbrush when I arrived at Yale from South Korea,” he said. “What I just wrote is considered a failure by my standards. But if you look at it that way, you can't really tell where I went wrong. But I know. » (WSHU)

In his home studio in Korea, Kim keeps the room temperature around 38°C to slow the drying of the glue he applies to the page. Mimicking the removal of his shirt, he said: “In my studio, I don't usually dress like that. » (WSHU)

Describing her process of intense concentration, Kim said: "I often take a 10-minute break every hour, and since I do this for over eight hours a day, in the summer I have to take maybe three, four or even six times to wash my face. » (WSHU)

Jude Yang, Korean studies librarian at Yale University, explained the importance of sagyeong: “It has an ancient history, traditionally, throughout the Koreas. The practice of printing in Korea has a very long history. It's a sort of handwriting extension of sagyeong. We actually claim that one of them is older than the Gutenberg Bible. » (WSHU)

Written with the same gold ink and indigo paper that Kim uses today, the oldest Korean paper in the university. sagyeong has been dated to the 14th century.

Kim's work is on permanent display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has been featured at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Museum of Korea, Korea University, and the Korean Cultural Service in New York. Kim dedicated his life to reviving the art of handwritten Buddhist sutras and was honored with the title of "heir to the transmission of traditional Sagyeong art" in Korea.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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