Seokguram Grotto

National Treasure #24
Gyeongju, Korea

Seokguram is an artificial grotto (Buddhist cave-chapel) that was built in the 8th century during the Unified Silla dynasty as a private chapel for the ruling family. The chapel is located 4 mi east of Bulguksa, a temple to which the grotto is affiliated. It faces east towards the Sea of Japan, a placement that may have been intended to protect the Silla state from Japanese invasion.

The main worship image is probably Shakyamuni Buddha, although Amitabha has also been proposed. The Buddha's halo is not attached to the image, but rather is cut into the wall behind it. The statue displays bhumisparsha mudra, the gesture of "calling the earth to witness" that Shakyamuni is worthy to receive enlightenment.