For the first time in 123 years, monks at Haeinsa Temple in South Korea's Gyeongsangnam-do Province took its collection of 1,270 volumes of scripts from the shelves on Thursday to traditionally dry them under the sun.
The scripts were originally printed from the Tripitaka Koreana wooden blocks, a national treasure.
"'Sun yearning' is not only about reading the tripitaka itself but engraving its teachings onto our minds."
The Tripitaka Koreana, or Palman Daejanggyeong, is considered the world's most comprehensive and oldest intact version of the Buddhist canon in Chinese characters.
Carved onto some 81,000 wooden printing blocks, the 770-year-old text consists of 52 million characters and features not only ancient Buddhist scriptures but also travelogues and pieces of history making books printed with the blocks cultural assets as well.
"The ritual offers a rare glimpse into how the Janggyeongpanjeon structure has been able to house and preserve the wooden blocks so well for over 500 years."
"I'm incredibly happy to have witnessed the event with my own two eyes. What a breathtaking experience."
Past records show "sun yearning" was practiced every few years on ancient texts in both the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties, usually after the monsoon season to prevent moisture and insects from ruining them.
The books dried on Thursday were printed in 1898.
Four sets were made at the time, with Haeinsa, Tongdosa, and Songgwangsa temples each getting one set, while the fourth was shared among other major monasteries across the country.
During the "sun yearning" ritual, all 1,270 volumes were laid out on long tables in stacks as monks peruse through them, checking their condition and spiritually absorbing the teachings inside.
The mass undertaking comes as Haeinsa Temple celebrates 1,219 years of Buddhist worship.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News, Hapcheon.