Young Kim||||

Your Sentimental Stranger

We must have met
before we met —

Under a bo tree shading a monk
napping in Nirvana

In the red rose garden I stumbled
under a full moon night

In the candle light glowing
in my old stone lamp

In Myungdong streets where I roamed
with erratic dreams

In the Mozart sonata playing
in a foreign café

In the summer light laying
on my shoulder

In your gaze that stilled me
on a bow bridge in Venice

We must have met
before we met —

A Tale of Stone Lamps

         The stone lamps (or lanterns) are part of the ancient Buddhist and cultural relics existing to this day in Korea. They were lit with candle light during the religious rituals of spiritual enlightenment for centuries in Korea. These stone lamps are protected as part of national treasures, together with bronze bells, religious statues, and stone pagodas adorning Buddhist temples, gardens, and royal tumuli throughout Korea.

         The oldest stone lamps that were excavated are known to be from the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.) of the ancient Three Kingdom period. But it was during the golden era of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.) that the craftsmanship of stone lamp artisans had flourished most, reaching the pinnacle in the number and variety of styles.

         Although they look weather-beaten and sun-browned, enduring the test of time and history for well over a thousand years (some more tragic than others), a surprising number of ancient stone lamps were found in remarkable conditions in Korea.  According to the book, Stone Lamps, published by Daewonsa Publishing Company, Seoul, Korea, a total number of those now remaining in various historic sites are around 280, of which 60 are in perfect shape, and there may be 10 more in North Korea.

         The images shown below are the three stone lamps, selected from the book, Stone lamps.

빛깔있는 책들 136  <석등>, 대원사
(Books in Color 136 , Daewonsa)

Written and Compiled by Therese Young Kim
Your Sentimental Stranger
February 2015
Copyright © Therese Young Kim