This study concerns the inconsistency between the icon and the name of the Standing Stone Bodhisattva Statue of Gwanchoksa Temple that had long been called ‘Eunjinmireuk(Maitreya of Eunjin)’ despite its iconographic features of Avalokiteśhvara.
In the past, as to the icon-name discussions of the statue, one group of experts regarded ‘Eunjinmireuk’, a name with long history, as an error based on the icon, whereas others attempted to provide explanations in connection with the exceptional icon of the stone statue of Bodhisattva at Gamsansa Temple with the aim to support of the relevance of the name. In this study, the mechanism behind the inconsistencies was examined based on the fact that the name of the stone statue at Gwanchoksa Temple provided in the historical records may be a nominal designation used in reference to the statue at the time, rather than a reflection of the iconographic facts, and that such inconsistencies between the icon and the name are not rare among Buddha statues. The results were as follows.
First, in order to provide support that the inconsistency between the icon and the name of the statue is worth analyzing, the creator and intent behind the creation of the statue and its position in the pattern history were examined. The results showed that the stone statue at Gwanchoksa Temple was not created by a powerful clan in the Sijin region (present-day Nonsan) and does not display the regional pattern. Rather, it was speculated that it was created with an intent to fulfill a political objective, which was localization of the post-Baekje region, through discursive practices of geomantic topography regarding buddhist temples and pagodas designed and positioned to supplement the energy of the surrounding region. In the aspect of pattern history, the folk and indigenous elements were distinguished, with the peculiar pattern in the early Goryeo Dynasty was set forth as an indigenous element, thereby positioning the stone statue at Gwanchoksa Temple at the pinnacle of the indigenous branch originating from Gaetaesa Temple.
Next, in order to analyze the inconsistency between the icon and the name of the stone statue, the inconsistencies found in other stone statues of Buddha were divided into two types. They were then analyzed in relation to the inconsistency found in the stone statue at Gwanchoksa Temple. One possibility is that all stone statues of the Buddha were called Mireuk, regardless of their respective icons, and it was speculated that the stone statue at Gwanchoksa Temple came to be called ‘Mireuk’ based on this mechanism. As Ko Yu-seop and Lee Neung-hwa mentioned, “all stone statues of Buddha are called Mireuk” based on the earnest wishes. Another possibility is related to relevance of the stone statue of Bodhisattva at Gamsansa Temple. The name of the stone statue at Gwanchoksa Temple was not changed due to an external factor later on, but it was speculated that statues of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva were originally called Mireuk, for unknown reasons. However, even if the name Mireuk was initially imprinted for the icons of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, this does not make the objectified differences of icons themselves meaningless in art history.
Determining the name and icon of stone statues of Buddha, which comprise a part of Buddhist sculpture history, is an important process. However, there are tendencies for normative judgments, suggesting that there should be a one-to-one correspondence between the icon and the name, and this in effect eliminate inconsistences as abnormal. In response to this, there is a need to acknowledge such inconsistencies as an occurrence of the past, not an error, and to examine the inconsistencies among desire, name and icon in a flexible and tolerant manner. This is when it will be possible to see the earnest wishes that brought forth such inconsistency. In a sense, an inconsistency could be viewed as the traces of the earnest wishes of the people that were engraved. For this reason, it is possible to see the efforts spurred by the people in the past to breathe life into their desires in the iconographic imagination that has been passed on and the given materials.