The Tripitaka Koreana (palman Daejanggyeong) are more than 80,000 wood blocks used for printing the complete collection of Buddhist scriptures, laws, and treatises. The 81,340 blocks weigh 3.2 kg each. Together, they are the
equivalent of 6,791 printed volumes, and contain 52,382,960 characters (Hanja). The hand carved blocks took over 16 years to complete. Designated as National Treasure #32, UNESCO has also identified the set as a world cultural heritage.
The original set took 77 years to complete, and was finished in 1087. However, it was destroyed in 1232 by a Mongol invasion. King Kojong ordered the set remade and work began in 1236. It was felt that replacing the wood blocks would convince Buddha to intervene and help repel the Mongolian invaders. Originally carved on Kangwha Island, they were moved to Haein-sa during the early years of the Yi dynasty.
Monks used wood from silver magnolias, white birches, and cherry trees from Korea's southern coast. They soaked the ram wood in salt water for 3 years, then cut the individual blocks. Each section was boiled in salt water then thoroughly dried before being planed and carved.
All the bocks are stored in 4 storage halls in the northern side of Haein-sa: Sudarajangjon, Poppojon, Dongpandang, Seopandang. The buildings are typical of the Choson period in which they were built- hipped rooves with supporting pillars, and have been designated as National Treasure #52. The foundations have been reinforced with charcol, lime powder, and clay to help maintain a constant temperature and control humidity. The effective climate control has helped preserve the Tripitaka Koreana for over 750 years! Inside each building, the wood blocks are arranged along 2 lines of shelves with 5 tiers each.