In the next year or two I want to travel to South Korea and lately have been researching temple stays. One temple that is very appealing is Jeondeungsa Temple on Ganghwa-gun Island, Incheon. The temple is located within the Samnangseong Fortress and is the oldest Buddhist temple in Korea. Daeungjeon, the main hall, was built in 381.
Besides a week of fresh air and contemplation there are ancient trees and beautiful temple architecture to explore….and the legend of the lovelorn carpenter. It seems the head carpenter of Daeungjeon had love issues.
There are variations to the legend as one would expect after 1,635 years. Some say the head carpenter met and fell in love with a local woman who scorned him and stole his money. Heartbroken and miserable he carved four figures of women and placed each one under the eaves of the temple roof. The small crouched figures are easy to spot under the lovely wood and faded paint of the eaves.
My favorite version (of course it is!) is more specific as to the intentions of the carpenter: his wife grew tired of waiting for him to return and left him. He carved the small crouching figures holding up each corner of the roof to symbolize his wish for her to carry a heavy burden for the rest of her life. Omo!