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the seonbawi rock at inwangsan mountain | by Anna Toss
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the seonbawi rock at inwangsan mountain

A sign at the foot of the rock describes it like this:


This rock is called Seonbawi (zen rock) because it looks like a robed Buddhist monk. It is also called the "Rock of Preying for a Son" as many women who wanted to bear sons came here to prey. This rock is said by some to resemble the likeness of King Taejo, Joseon's founder and first King and the Great Monk Muhak daesa and by other the likenss of King Taejo and his wife.


Beliefs concerning Seonbawi became more closley linked to folk beliefs after the Japanese Empire moved Guksadang , which had been at Namsan next to Seonbawi. Guksandang was a srine to a Shamanic god and the place where shamanic rites were held. As a result Seonbawi became connected with these shamanic beliefs.


These is an interesting story about the time when the city wall of Hanyang (Seoul) was being built. It is said that Muhak daesa wanted Seonbawi to be within the city walls , but Jeong Dojeon wanted the rock located outside the walls. Jeong Dojeon said: "If Seonbawi is within the wall Buddhism will flourish; if it is without Confucianism will flourish." Taejo followed Jeong Dejon's advice , an Muhak daesa sighed: "From now on the monks will be following the Confucian scholars around carrying their packages of book for them." The story tells us that Seonbawi attracted attention from the early Joseon era as a striking feature of Inwangsan.


An English teacher in Korea has a lot more to tell about the rock and the mountain - read her blogpost here.

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Taken on June 22, 2007