Woodcarving Master Kil-Yang Huh

Woodcarving Master Kil Yang Huh

Prajna Galleries is deeply honored to present the creations of the legendary Master Woodcarver, Kil-Ryang,Huh. He was designated as Living National Treasure (Human Cultural Property) by the Korean government in 2001. As Master Wood Sculptor (Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 108), he has given a great example for Woodcarving Art and promoted the transmission of knowledge and skills in his workshop. Master Huh is renowned for his delicate, yet spiritually powerful carvings of Buddha and Bodhisattva sculptures. His works are present in some of the most esteemed temples in Korea, for example at Songwangsa and Sudoksa.
Master Kil-Yang Huh has been trained as a woodcarving artist since he was 15 years old by the most profound Korean woodcarving masters at his time. He apprenticed with Venerable Wooil, one of the most revered woodworking pedigrees in Korea, a lineage flowing down the ages from the ancient Koryo Dynasty of Korea. He was initiated in the spirits of ‘Buddha Mother’. Only highly skilled and spiritual Buddhist artists are referred to as Buddha Mother, since they give birth to Buddha images through their dedication, efforts and inspirations.
Master Huh has established this exclusive relationship with Prajna Galleries to produce for us a very limited number of his masterpieces to be offered outside Korea -- a world-first for a Master of his standing and renown.

As we watched Master Huh at work, frankly, several of our staff were filled with awe at his reverence and truly spiritual artisanship. When Master Huh receives a commission from us to produce a type of statue, he starts by selecting the tree itself that will produce the wood for his sculpture. He invests great care and devotion simply in the selection of the tree! What follows is a small ceremony before he cuts down the tree and begins carving. He explains that this is the way that woodcarver-monks in Korea gave their statues such spiritual power.

After carving the woodblock into a statue, over weeks of meticulous effort, he scoops out the inner part of the sculpture. Then he boils the sculpture in a large cauldron, with straw and salt being carefully added at intervals over a 24-hour period. Before the advent of modern chemical preservatives (which we at Prajna Galleries also wish to avoid), this process was developed to limit cracking of the wood and to moth-proof and worm-proof it. The sculpture is removed from the boiling pot and left to fully dry out. Once the statue is completely dried, Master Huh begins a long process of quite delicately sanding the surface until it feels almost like human skin. He then bathes the statue in a water of boiled herbs, sulphur, and cridium root, until a delicate scent pervades its surface from the inside out. Finally, he applies a delicate ramie cloth, further refining the elegant texture and glow of the natural grain inner nature. A very fine paint is applied to details, more to heighten the personality of the Buddha or Bodhisattva he has brought into the world. The creation of a Buddha statue takes 3 to 4 months until the end product is realized.


1953    Born in Suncheon, Jeonnam
1968 Apprentice under Mr Seo, Soo-Yeon’S woodcraft teaching
1975 Completed Buddhist paintings under Mr. Lee, In-Ho
1977 Grand Prize at Buddhist Grand Art Exhibition
1979 Special Seleat Shilla Grand Art Exhibitionction
1980 Apprentice under Venerable Wooil
1981 Acquired Specialty #165 (woodcarving), Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea
1990 Honorable Mention (Encouragement Award) at Traditional Arts Exhibition
1998 Professor at Incheon Catholic Uniiversity

Recognized as the Woodcarving Master, Major Intangible Cultural Asset (Cultural Heritage) of the Republic of Korea

List of Major Work

Heungryunsa   Thousand-eyed and thousand-armed Bodhisattva
(wooden carved wall painting)
Wooden-carved painting of 104 Buddhist protectors
Samcheonsa Wooden-carved painting of Shaman
Wooden-carved paintings, 500 Arahats
Doseonsa 33 Buddhist statues including 10 Kings for the Altar of Yama
Sangwonsa Altar of sage
Wooden-carved paintings of the Ten Kings and Arahat
Pyochunga Sculpture of Four Dharma-Protectors
Samgwangsa Triad Buddha Sculptures (5 ft)
Seonrimsa Triad Buddha Sculptures (6 ft)
Gwaneumsa Main Buddha Sculpture for the Hall of the 1000 Buddhas
Oseam    Manjusuri

Wooden-carved wall painting behind the Triad Buddha
Wooden-carved painting of Buddhist protector
Wooden-carved painting of Ksitigarbha


Four Dharma-Protectors
Thousand-eyed and thousand-armed Bodhisattva


Manjusuri, Samantabhadra and Sakyamuni Buddha Sculpture for the Hall of the 1000 Buddhas


Quintet Buddha Sculptures (6ft)


Wooden carved painting of Triad Buddha (200 m wide)
500 Manjusuris, 500 Bodhisattvas of Wisdom


Nine Amitabha Buddha Sculptures (5ft)


33 Bodhisatva Sculpture (private exhibition at Dongguk University Museum)


Triad Buddha Sculptures (5ft)


Wooden-carved painting of 32 Bodhisatvas


Wooden-carved painting of 104 Buddhist protectors
Thousand-eyed and thousand-armed Bodhisattva
Triad Buddha Sculptures


Triad Buddha Sculptures for the Hall of 1000 Buddha