Korean Buddhist Temple Fish-Shaped Wind Chimes

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A fine example of a fish-shaped wind chime from Gakwonsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!!

One of the most beautiful decorative devices adorning a Korean Buddhist Temple are the melodious wind chimes that hang from the eave’s of shrine halls. And while these bronze wind chimes are absolutely beautiful, like everything at a Korean Buddhist temple, they have a special meaning. So what do they look like? And why do they adorn Korean Buddhist temple halls.

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With a clear blue sky overhead, the fish-shaped wind chime blows in the breeze at Pyochungsa Temple.

When you first approach a temple, especially on a windy day, you’ll be able to hear a slight ringing in the air. And if you look up at the eaves of temple shrine halls, you’ll see the source of this beautiful music. Uniquely, a bronze fish clapper is attached to the bell.

So why exactly is the wind chime shaped like a fish? First, the wind that passes through the chime is likened to the condition of complete freedom from obstruction, which is highly symbolic of the goal for all Buddhists. Secondly, a fish’s eyes always remain open when asleep or awake. Similarly, the chimes ring day or night without end and without ever getting tired. This act is a symbolic reminder to monks to always remain diligent and alert on their path inside the Dharma. A third and final reason is that when the bell sounds it dispells evil spirits. As a side note, that’s why a lot of houses have these fish wind chimes near the entrance of their homes.

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An up-close look at a fish-shaped wind chime from Jajangam Hermitage.

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With an overcast sky overhead, the fish-shaped wind chime never rests at Beomeosa Temple.

Much like all artwork that adorns Korean Buddhist temple halls, the fish-shaped wind chime has so much more symbolic meaning than simply looking and sounding beautiful. So the next time you hear a ringing in your ear at a temple, you’ll know that this sound is a reminder to the faithful to remain ever diligent in their belief and the vanquishing of evil spirits.

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Nearly a hundred fish-shaped wind chimes adorn the gorgeous granite pagoda at Samgwangsa Temple.

8 thoughts on “Korean Buddhist Temple Fish-Shaped Wind Chimes

  1. I always wonder what is the meaning of decorating this fish shaped windy chimes at Korean temples. Now I know the answer. Thanks for sharing…I like your post

  2. I would like to know how/where to buy one. When I was in Korea the temples had them for sale for approx. $50 USD but I did not buy it. Kicking myself now. Can be from a Korean supplier. thank you 감사합니다

    • Hello Kathy,

      I’m not sure where you live, but perhaps if you visit a local Korean temple in your home country, they will have some for sale, or perhaps they can point in the direction of where you might be able to purchase one. Good luck!

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