Epigraphical Sources on the Official

Ideology of Unified Silla

- on material of the inscription on

King Munmu's tomb stele. -

(

- -)

Vladimir. M.Tikhonov, KyungHee Un-ty.

(ڳ, )

1. Foreword.

The theme of the present paper is the official, or "royal" ideology of Silla of the times of King Sinmun (681-692) as reflected in the text of the inscription on the stele of the tomb of Sinmun's father, King Munmu (661-681). The terms "official ideology" ("ίܫ "), and "royal ideology" (" ") are understood here as synonymous in concrete historical situation of Unified Silla, and designating the complex of religious, philosophical, and political ideas which were utilized by the monarchy in order to establish its legitimacy in the ritual as well as in the concrete political sense of the word. In case of mature Silla monarchy (from early 6 C. onward), such complex used to be extremely heterogeneous, with elements of indigenous Shamanistic cults, Confucianism, and Buddhism being combined in various ways and used from time to time in a greater or lesser degree, in accordance with concrete tasks of contemporary Realpolitic. Creating complex ideology, the monarchy aimed mainly at establishing itself in the time and spacial frame, as an organic, integral part of both indigenous and regional cultural and religious traditions, and legitimizing its concrete political and cultural actions, be it the forcible Unification of the Peninsula or acceptance of classical Chinese concepts and institutions. While preserving some immutable "core" notions (such as the divine nature of the kingship or the connection of the King with the Heaven), Silla royal ideology was quite a flexible construction capable of significant change and acceptive to new elements. The main direction of its historical development was the strengthening of Confucian and Buddhist components at the expense of native tradition: still, those main three elements of the system actively influenced each other and maintained certain balance until the end of Silla.

As is well-known, the two basic sources for Silla history are "Samguk Sagi" ("History of the Three Kingdoms"; compiled in 1145 by the team of Koryŏ historiographers headed by Kim Busik) and "Samguk Yusa" ("Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms"; compiled in 1285 by monk Iryŏn). Still, when it comes to the history of ideas, the two sources should be used with the utmost precaution, and be subject to thorough textual criticism, for both of them were ideologically shaped in the atmosphere of Koryŏ period, with manifold "hidden agendas" being found in their texts. Both strong emphasis on Buddhism as the "state-protecting" ceremonial religion in "Samguk Yusa", and almost complete lack of attention towards both Buddhism and native beliefs in "Samguk Sagi" reflect their compilers' inclinations rather that Silla ideological situation. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that the most authentic sources for study on Silla royal ideology are Silla epigraphs, especially those written by the court authors on various occasions connected with court rituals, such as royal funerals or enthronement. The inscription on the tomb stele of King Munmu () is one of such epigraphs. Ordered by Munmu's successor Sinmun, this epitaph announces the transfer of the sacred monarchical power from one king to another and, expectedly, elaborates on the sources, meaning and attributes of this power.

This paper is the first part of the complex study of the Unified Silla epigraphs I am recently conducting. In its complete form, the study will include parts on several stele and votive inscriptions, with full translations and detailed commentaries. The present paper is a preliminary report on one inscription only, where the translation and most textual commentaries are omitted, on account of space consideration. Theoretical part, where universal concepts of "power ideology" and "divine kingship" are scrutinized in the context of the world history, is omitted as well.

2. Analysis of the main ideological, religious, and cultural elements in the inscription on the stele of the tomb of King Munmu (681-682).

a) Brief description of the source.

One of the most important primary sources on the Unified Silla state ideology, this stele was first discovered near the tomb of Queen Sŏndŏk (632-647) in Kyŏngju in 1796 by famous contemporary scholar, Hong Yangho, who served as a local magistrate there 36 years before the time of the discovery. Then, probably through the good offices of Kim Myŏnghŭi, a rubbed copy of the inscription on the stele was sent to contemporary Ch'ing epigraphist, Liu Hsĭ-hăi. The latter included the text of the inscription into his monumental work, "Hăitũng Chīn-shih Yüàn" (Kor.: "Haedong Kŭmsŏk wŏn"; 1831). Being then included also in the Japanese collection of Korean epigraphy, "Chõsen kinseki sõran" (Kor.: "Chosŏn kŭmsŏk ch'ongnam"; Keijõ, 1919), the text from the Liu's anthology became an important source for the students of the culture and ideology of the early period of Unified Silla. In the meanwhile, a fragment (Kor.: tanbi) of the King Munmu's monument (the monument was deemed lost already in the late 19 C.) was re-discovered again in the eastern part of Kyŏngju in 1961 by Hong Sajun. Still, due largely to the fact that the extant text on the re-discovered fragment of the stele was rendered almost illegible by the time, the text found in Liu's anthology still remains main source for the scholars. Authored by certain Kim (name is abraded by time), high official (original title is so-kyŏng, or "Junior Minister") of the newly- established State University (Kukhak), the text is a typical piece of laudatory rhetorics, where the "virtues" of the deceased King are extolled in ornate Chinese phrases dotted with quotations from Confucian (and sometimes Taoist) classics and historical books. At the same time, the inscription also mentions certain historical facts, such as the Unification Wars against Paekche and Koguryŏ or the Buddhist ceremony of cremation of deceased King Munmu. Still, basically, the text seems to be rather a picture of the ideal Universe as suggested by the Silla court ideology of divine kingship that an objective historical description. The mentions of historic facts serve the only purpose: to prove the divine nature of Silla King and State.

b) Main ideological, religious, and cultural elements of the text.

I) The basic ideology of the text is given, in its condensed form, in the very opening of the inscription, were the main attributes of the deceased King are enumerated. It reads: "The Unifier of the Three [Korean States? Cosmic Elements: The Heaven, Earth and Humans?], [...], Excellent in military affairs, [...], Helper of [...], Assessor to the Heaven, Ruler of [all] things, Maker of [the borders of] the Land, He who runs the country, He who increases his virtues, He who rectifies [the evils of] the time, He who saves [the world from] disorders, He who responds to the deities [...]. Sacred order (?) [...]" (the front side, the 2nd vertical line). And the same motif recurs again in the penultimate phrase: "His (King Munmu's, - V.T.) great name is as high as the Heaven and as long-living as the Earth" (the backside, the 21st vertical line). It is evident that the deified King is seen as the Ruler of the sacred cosmos: being an equal to such main spacial elements of the cosmos as the Heaven and Earth, he rules over all lesser creatures of the whole world and transcends the profane time, as eternal as the Heaven and Earth are. Such notion of the King of the Land being at the same time the sacred cosmic Ruler was in fact a creative synthesis of the indigenous concept of the sacred "Shaman-King" and Chinese Confucian ideas of the "Wang Tao", "The Way of [Legitimate] Sovereign".

II) There are obvious Confucian elements in the text, especially in the depicting of the deceased King's moral character. He is characterized as one who "comforted the people (his subjects. - V.T.) through bestowing favours [upon them] and reigned over [all] things with generosity" (the front side, the 9th vertical line). The qualities of "bestowing favours" upon one's inferiors ("", or ""), and "generosity" ("ΰ") belong to the most important attributes of chun-tzu (), or "virtuous/genuine gentleman", the ideal personage of Confucian tradition. Other characteristical praise is that the deceased was "as pure and beautiful as [real] gentleman" (the back side, the 10th vertical line), "gentleman" (shìh, ) being other name of the ideal hero of Confucian texts. But even more important that those largely rhetorical praises are the obvious indications that Confucianism was used as - or, at least, was officially professed to be - the ruling ideology during the reign of King Munmu. For example, "the teaching of <Shi-ching> (<Classic of Poetry>) and <Lĭ-chì> (<Classic of Ritual>)" (the front side, the 12th vertical line; the line is too defaced to understand the exact meaning of the phrase) is mentioned in obvious connection with the description of internal (lines 10-11; 22-24) and foreign (lines 11-22; 25-28) policies of the deceased King. "Monarchal Ritual" (""), a characteristically Confucian term, is mentioned in connection with King Munmu's funeral ceremony (the back side, the 7th vertical line). The phrase "only the wise were treasured" (the front side, the 22nd vertical line) can be understood as an indication that King Munmu attempted to carry into practice the Confucian meritocratic doctrine of "promoting the wise and virtuous" (i.e. Confucian literati). In fact, career promotion and honours given in the reign of King Munmu to Kang Su (man of non-chin'gol origins known for the profundity of his knowledge of Chinese classics, strict observance of moral norms, and literary talents) presents a concrete example of how the doctrine of "treasuring the wise [regardless of their origins]" could be realized in practice. It should be also noted that almost all official texts generated by the Silla court in the time of the Unification Wars (diplomatical documents mostly authored by Kang Su, King Munmu's will, e.c.) contained manifold citations from the Classics and plenty of the Confucian references. Thus, Confucian character of eulogistic phraseology in the inscription on the stele seems to be rather normative for the period.

III) The inscription seems to include several important mentions of the indigenous Silla cults. First, there are two mentions of "Kyŏngjin" (" "; literally: "the ferry/sea [where] the whales [can live]), the term which is thought to have been a poetical name for a big sea, or, specifically, the Eastern Sea (also known as the Sea of Japan). In the final part of the inscription, after the phrase concerning the cremation of King Munmu, it is mentioned that his "bones were scattered over Kyŏngjin" (the back side, the 20th vertical line). It tallies with the records of "Samguk Sagi" and "Samguk Yusa" pertaining the Buddhism-inspired funeral ceremony of King Munmu, and therefore is fully understandable. But other, and much more intriguing phrase where the "Kyŏngjin" is mentioned, in the beginning of the inscription, tells us that "The Master of Kyŏngjin was dispatched" somewhere, presumably by the deceased King (the front side, the 3rd vertical line). Taking into account the immediate context of this phrase (before, monarchical "response to the deities" is mentioned; after, there is a passage on Silla's main divine protectors, the "Three mountains"), it is surmisable that the "Master of Kyŏngjin" is also a name of deity, most probably of that of the Eastern Sea. In some stories of "Samguk Yusa" the dragon deity of the Eastern Sea is described as a powerful spirit protecting the Kingdom and its ruler. Moreover, "Samguk Sagi" and "Samguk Yusa" tell us that King Munmu wished to become the Dragon of the Eastern Sea posthumously, to protect Silla from external threats ("Yusa"), or was thought to have become the Dragon in Silla folklore ("Sagi"). Royal mythology of early Unified Silla considered deceased King Munmu-turned-Eastern Sea Dragon very efficient divine protector of the country and throne: he was said to present his son Sinmun (who erected the stele we are attempting to analyse here) a magic fetish, "The Flute Calming Ten Thousand Waves" ("ؿ"), capable of fending off attacking enemies or bringing good weather ("Samguk Yusa", Chapter 2, "The Flute to Calm Ten Thousand Waves"). Taking into account that both King Munmu (hero of the inscription) and King Sinmun (erecter of the stele) regarded the dragon of the Eastern Sea as one of the chief protecting spirits of Silla, we can assume that the "Kyŏngjin-Ssi" ("Master of the Eastern Sea") of the inscription well can be a poetical name of this important deity. "Dispatching" of the "Kyŏngjin-Ssi" could mean that the magic defender of the state was thought to have rendered some service to the monarchy - notion, quite typical for Silla where the deified rulers were considered to be equal to the Heaven and much superior to the lesser deities of seas or mountains.

Second, there are two mentions of the "Three Mountains" ("߲ߣ"), goddesses of which were also perceived as mighty national protectors at the time of the Unification Wars. As is generally known, popular cult of mountains existed in Silla from pre-historical times; however, already in the periods of chiefdom and early statehood the fledgling monarchy started its attempts to "domesticate" this folklore belief and utilize it for its own purposes. Also, in the process of annexing neighbouring principalities and territories, Silla, striving to secure the loyalty of the conquered populace, used to include local mountain cults into its own state ritual. Becoming increasingly complicated, the state ritual complex began to require some systematization. The first variants of the systematized state ritual structure (5th-6th C.) were probably based on indigenous principles. Then, with the increasing Sinicisation of the swiftly growing state apparatus and its ideology in 7th C., the Chinese idea of the "Three Divine Mountains and Five Peaks" was accepted as one of the basic patterns of the ruling class's Weltanschauung and provided the model for Silla's own scheme of the "Three sacred mountains and five peaks", unifying the traditional cults of various communities into one, royally sponsored system of beliefs. Formulated and propagated by the 7th C. militaristic royalty, this official scheme depicted the female deities of the three sacred mountains as the "divine patronesses" of Silla monarchy and "holy sponsors" of its expansionist politics. With its indisputably indigenous roots and cogent political reasons for its implementation into ritual practice, this scheme, although constructed after Chinese lines, doubtlessly was a part of Silla's unique and original state religious system. Still, Silla being identified by its ruling class as a member of T'ang-centered world order, Silla's real "three sacred mountains" and China's mythical "three divine mountains" were sometimes perceived by Silla's court ideologues as something almost identical and - in mytho-ritual context - interchangeable (Such perceptions were closely connected with the notion of Silla as a "country of chun-tzu" we will examine below). So, the phrase (the subject is presumably the deceased King) "[he] reflected (or "illuminated". - V.T.) the palaces on the Three Mountains" (the front side, the 3rd vertical line), which is pertaining to the Chinese mythology from the viewpoint of literal interpretation (unlike the Three Mountains of Silla, that of China were thought to be populated by the Taoist "immortals" living in luxurious fantastic palaces), can be at the same time seen as directly connected with Silla's own mytho-ritual context. The same can be said about the other mention of the "Three Mountains" in the text, found in the final poetic eulogy to King Munmu: "[As] a thousand-branched bough, [he] reached and illuminated the Three Mountains, causing them to express their qualities; [his] magnificent virtues spread to faraway [places]" (the backside, the 16th vertical line). The "Three Mountains" here are the important "common denominator" of Silla and T'ang's mythological worldviews, a "shared notion" which equally belonged to the ritual worlds of both countries, and could, in accordance with the desires of Silla increasingly autocracy-oriented monarchy, spread the doctrine of "Silla as a model sinicized non-Chinese country" (߾) in the realm of the state ritual and official belief systems. At the same time, being deeply entrenched within Silla traditional folklore beliefs, the "Three Mountains" system, for all its Chinese references, should be numbered among Silla state-managed indigenous cults.

Third, this inscription is the earliest known epigraphical text where the legendary progenitor of Silla royalty, King Sŏnghan (; not found in literary sources), is mentioned. The line in question is: "The vigorous qualities of King Sŏnghan, ancestor in the 15th generation, [are from] the Celestial Spheres, and his spiritual essence is born by the divine peaks. [He] initiated (...) by treating the jade railing (stable ?). In the beginning his [luck-bringing] virtues [arose in] the Auspicious Forest. It was as if [he] had seen the Shih-Niu (where mythical Emperor Yü, , is said to have been born, - V.T.) and had sat on the golden palanquin (...)" (the front side, the 6th vertical line). According to various scholars, who tried to put together the information of this and other inscriptions where Sŏnghan is mentioned, and the data of the "conventional" literary sources, enigmatic King Sŏnghan can be identified with either Silla royal Kim's clan's legendary progenitor, Kim Alji, or Alji's son, Sehan (Imanishi Ryũ), or first Kim clansman to ascend the Silla throne, King Mich'u (Lee Jonguk), or mythical progenitor of comparatively short-lived Sŏk clan, Sŏk T'arhae (Mun Gyŏnghyŏn). To the present author, it seems to be quite evident that, due to the scarcity and unreliability of the relevant data, the exact identification of King Sŏnghan of Silla epigraphs with any of the heroes of the literary sources compiled in Koryŏ time is hardly possible. If the data on Munmu's genealogy found in the "Chronicles of Silla" of "Samguk Sagi" is to be believed, his ancestor in the 15th generation really was Kim Alji's son, Sehan (; a graphic variant - ), on whom no additional literary information is available. At the same time, the story on King Sŏnghan as found in the present inscription, for all its brevity and sketchiness, bears close resemblance to the legends about Kim Alji's birth known from "Samguk Sagi" ("Chronicles of Silla", Chapter 1, 9th year of Isagŭm T'arhae) and "Samguk Yusa" (Chapter 1, "Kim Alji, the Reign of King T'arhae").

In the inscription, Sŏnghan's "vigorous qualities" ("") are mentioned in connection with the Heaven (). Similarly to that, in the Alji legends the golden box (which contained Alji) suddenly appeared at night accompanied by the purple clouds coming down from heaven to earth ("Samguk Yusa") and Alji himself was said to have been sent by the Heaven as T'arhae's successor ("Samguk Sagi").

Then, according to the inscription, Sŏnghan's "spiritual essence" ("") was born () by the "divine peaks" (). Admittedly, mountains are not mentioned in the legends about Alji. Still, interestingly, according to a "Samguk Yusa" legend supposedly dated by King Chinp'yŏng's time (579-632), Silla's mythical founder, Pak Hyŏkkŏse, as well as his spouse Aryŏng, both were born by the "Goddess-Mother" ("ٽ") of the "Divine Peach Mountain" (ߣ), also called Kyŏngju's "Western Peak" ("") and known as an object of regular royal sacrificial offerings (Chapter 7). The legend of the "Goddess-Mother of the Western Peak" seems to be ideologically "multi-layered", with the influences of popular Buddhism and "Silla as model sinicized non-Chinese country" ideas being quite visible (the "Goddess-Mother" is said to have been a Chinese emperor's daughter and a donator to Buddhist ceremonies). Still, the idea of the "Goddess-Mother" of the sacred mountain becoming the ritual "mother" of clan's progenitor/state's founder, known also from Kaya mythoi of the state-founding, must have been an archaic concept which played serious role in royal ideology throughout Silla history. Phrase from "Samguk Yusa" that Alji's appearance "resembled the old story of Hyŏkkŏse" being taken into account, we can suppose that Alji's birth was also thought to have been somehow connected with the goddess of the sacred Western Peak, and, thus, mention of the "divine peaks" in the present inscription give us an additional proof of the resemblance between Sŏnghan's and Alji's stories. Moreover, the character "divine" ("") seen in the phrase about "divine peaks" in the inscription can also be found in the name of the mountain ("Divine Peach Mountain", ߣ) the Goddess-Mother dwelt in.

Finally, the "Auspicious Forest" ("") Sŏnghan's "luck-bringing virtues" ("") are somehow connected with in the inscription seems to have been a poetical name for Kyerim (ͮ - "Cock's Forest"; earlier name is , "the Original Forest"), the sacred forest in Kyŏngju where, according to both "Samguk Sagi" and "Samguk Yusa", Alji's golden box had been found. According to "Samguk Yusa" (Chapter 1, "King Hyŏkkŏse, the Founder of Silla"), the toponym Kyerim was coined when the Cock-Dragon (ͮף), mythical "parent" of Aryŏng, Hyŏkkŏse's queen, appeared in a well, thus "showing an auspicious omen" (""). Regardless of what the real etymology of this toponym could be, we can see that, in myth and ritual, Silla people perceived Kyerim as an "auspicious place". Therefore, it seems quite plausible that the "Auspicious Forest" of the inscription was, in fact, Kyerim, Sŏnghan/Alji's supposed birthplace. Very probably, Sŏnghan's "luck-bringing" magic virtues () were thought to have been endowed him with by the birth in the sacred place. His magic potency was thought to be conditioned by his mythic connections with the sacred parts of Silla cosmos, such as "divine" forest Kyerim, or "holy" Western Peak.

On the ground of all those similarities between the fragments of Sŏnghan tradition known from the inscription and Alji legends we can surmise that both Alji and Sŏnghan (known from "Samguk Sagi" as Alji's son Sehan) represent the same legendary figure - the progenitor of royal Kim's clan. Very probably, remark from "Samguk Yusa", according to which Alji is a Silla word meaning "little child" (""), should be trusted, and "Alji" can be interpreted as being initially a common rather than proper noun, as a characteristic ("small boy") given to the newborn Progenitor-infant in the myth. Later, in mid-Koryŏ period, when the genealogy of Kyŏngju Kim, now an aristocratic Koryŏ clan, was re-interpreted and literarily embellished, the word "Alji" seems to have substituted "Sŏnghan" for the personal name of the Kims' Progenitor. One of the possible reasons for such a substitution could be the fact that in Unified Silla times the name "Sŏnghan" was firmly associated with the title "T'aejo" ("", the Great Ancestor). For example, Kims' progenitor was called "T'aejo [Sŏng]han" in the inscription on Kim Inmun's stele (erected in 695 or 701) and "T'aejo Sŏnghan" in the inscription on King Hŭngdŏk's tomb stele (cir. 836). In Koryŏ, the posthumous title of "T'aejo" was conferred upon Wang Gŏn, the founder of the dynasty (r. 918-943), and that probably was why Kyŏngju Kims had to change the name of their legendary progenitor from Sŏnghan (who must have been remembered popularly as "T'aejo" too) into humbler Alji. The supposition that this change took place only after Wang Gŏn died and was proclaimed the "T'aejo" of the new dynasty is proven by the mentions of Sŏnghan in the inscriptions on the stelae of two Ch'an (Sŏn) priests, Chinch'ŏl-taesa (Iŏm) and Chin'gong-taesa (lifetime name is not known), erected in 937 and 939 respectively.

To elaborate upon the problem of Sŏnghan/Alji from the historical point of view is not the task of the present paper. For our purposes, it is just important to emphasize that T'aejo ("Great Ancestor", i.e. Progenitor) Sŏnghan (renamed into Alji in Koryŏ time) and his cult were the important part of the royal ideology of King Sinmun's period. Closely associated with the most important sacral parts of the Silla universe (the Heaven, "divine" mountains, and holy forest of Kyerim), Sŏnghan/Alji - the sacred Progenitor, equal to the August Heaven in ritual - seems to have been regarded as the source of "luck-bringing virtues" ("") - magic force which was thought to protect Sŏnghan's descendants, the royal house of Silla.

One extremely difficult - almost insoluble, given the paucity of the relevant data, - question here is the interrelationship between the cults of T'aejo Sŏnghan, progenitor of Kim clan, and Sijo () Pak Hyŏkkŏse, founder of Silla state and ancestor of Pak clan (which ruled Silla in B.C. 57 - A.D. 57, 80-184, and 912-927, if "Samguk Sagi" data are to be trusted). In "Samguk Sagi" (Chapter 32, "Sacrifices"), it is stated that Hyŏkkŏse's tomb was established as the object of state sacrifices as early as in 7 A.D., and every king, including that of Kim clan, up to Maripkan Soji (479-500), had to offer sacrifices there as part of some state rituals (including coronational ritual). In 487, in the process of increasing state centralization, the state-level cults were also systematized and centralized through the establishment of the "Palace of Deities" ("") - in fact, it was the royal shrine, - near the sacred well Naeŭl (Najŏng of earlier records) were legendary Hyŏkkŏse was thought to have been born ("Samguk Sagi", Chapter 3, the Chronicles of Silla, the 9th year of Maripkan Soji). After this, according to "Samguk Sagi", most Silla kings, with minor exceptions, offered sacrifices in the "Palace of Deities", instead of Hyŏkkŏse's tomb, during their coronation and on other ritual occasions. The question of who could be the main deity of that "Palace" was the subject of much heated debates beginning from the colonial times, with "progenitor of Kim's clan", "Hyŏkkŏse" and "Supreme Heavenly Deity" being the most frequent - and plausible - answers. On account of space consideration, I can not dwell much on this interesting subject, and shall confine myself to saying that I can agree - with certain important limitations - with Na Hŭira's latest conclusions according to which the main deity of the "Palace" was Hyŏkkŏse, but much de-anthropomorphized and perceived rather as depersonalized "Heaven" that real progenitor of Pak house. Then, in 6th-7th C., becoming less and less identified with Hyŏkkŏse, the Heaven - now re-interpreted along the classical Chinese lines, as universal supreme deity, - was firmly put on the top of the royal pantheon. With Pak clan long deprived of political power, cult of Sijo Hyŏkkŏse partly melted into the new royal cult of abstract Heaven, and partly - that is a supposition of the present author - was substituted by Kim clan's T'aejo Sŏnghan cult, both ancestral cults having much in common from the very beginning. First epigraphical mentions of T'aejo can be found in King Chinhŭng's (540-576) inscriptions on Hwangch'oryŏng (cir. 568) and Maunnyŏng (568) stelae, where the King is said to have " respectfully inherited T'aejo's foundations" (" "). Then comes very important for us record of "Samguk Sagi" (Chronicles of Silla, Chapter 8, the 7th year of King Sinmun) that in 687 (5-6 years after our stele was erected) sent his ministers to offer sacrifices to the tombs of the five of his ancestors, Great King T'aejo () first among them. I suppose that this record shows the importance of T'aejo Sŏnghan's cult for King Sinmun's version of Silla royal ideology. Then, the last autocracy-oriented ruler of T'aejong-Muyŏl's line, King Hyegong (765-780) re-structured the state cult of "five royal ancestral tombs" and substituted T'aejo Sŏnghan by the latter's descendant, King Mich'u ("Samguk Sagi", Chapter 32, "Sacrifices"), who was proclaimed to be the divine defender of Silla from external enemies ("Samguk Yusa", Chapter 1, "King Mich'u and the Bamboo-leaf Army") and remained the main ancestral deity until the fall of Silla. In my opinion, the reason for transferring the "position" of chief royal divine guardian from Sŏnghan's spirit to that of Mich'u was the same as in the case with substituting Hyŏkkŏse by Sŏnghan: facing the growing threat of aristocratical coup-d'etat, weakened royal court wanted to have some visible and popularly acknowledged spiritual "force" on its side, and Sŏnghan's cult, just as that of Hyŏkkŏse before, became too abstract, de-anthropomorphized and detached from folklore beliefs to be the popular religious basis of the monarchical authority. All this does not mean that Hyŏkkŏse and Sŏnghan's cults completely disappeared. They evidently co-existed with the dominant cult of Mich'u after King Hyegong's religious reform, and all the three ancestral cults could not but influence each other. I hope, that, despite the scarcity of the materials, further study will shed some light on concrete forms of such co-existence of several royal ancestral cults. For the present moment, the brief description above is the only explanation I can offer to the question of inter-relations between Hyŏkkŏse and Sŏnghan cults.

IV) Finally, the inscription allows us some insights into the idea of "Silla as a model sinicized non-Chinese country" (literally: "the senior among the tributaries": "߾ ") which seems to have been an important part of the royal ideology of late 7 C. First, just before the part about Sŏnghan, there is an interesting eulogy on King Munmu telling us that "Our Sil[la] (...) king's divine origins are remote. [He] inherited [his] flourishing basis from the Emperor who Ruled [by the virtues of] Fire. [He] just developed [his virtues] to the high [degree], and due to this could the unusual sagacity be put onto the (...) bough. Marquis of T'ou's descendants who offered sacrifices to the Heaven transmitted this [custom] for the duration of seven generations (...)" (the front side, the 4-6th vertical lines). As is well-known, the "Emperor who Ruled [by the virtues of] Fire" ("ί") is mythical Shen-Nung-shih (), the Divine Farmer, one of the "San Huang" ("߲"; "Three Emperors") of Chinese historical legends who is credited with teaching the humans agriculture, trade, music, medicine, wine-brewing, metal-casting, and divination. In accordance with the theory of "Five proto-elements" (""), he was considered, by the later authors, to be the embodiment of the "virtues" ("") of the element of Fire. Marquis of T'ou (硠), in contrast to the Divine Farmer, is a real personage of the history of Han Dynasty. Known as Chin Jih-Chih (燑; B.C. 134-36) in historical documents, he is said to have been a Hsiung-nu (ҿ) prince taken prisoner by Chinese army who afterwards made a brilliant career as courtier and general. As the ruler of Hsiung-nu was thought to make sacrifices to the Heaven ( ) before a golden statue (), the prince was granted by Emperor Wu-ti (r. 141-87 B.C.) the family name of "Gold" - Chin. The title of the Marquis of T'ou was additionally conferred on him for his prominent role in quelling a riot. Seven generations of Chin Jih-Chih's descendants also enjoyed success in the Han officialdom as Imperial Palace Attendants (Ү; "Han Shu", Chapter 68). While the Divine Farmer was considered the founder of classical Chinese culture, Chin Jih-Chih was a model of a "barbarian" who, nevertheless, succeeded in "civilizing" himself along Chinese canonical lines. Proclaiming itself the successor to the Divine Farmer and Chin Jih-Chih, King Sinmun, in fact, symbolically expressed his willingness to accept classical Chinese norms and make Silla a "cultural equal" to T'ang. The other important detail in this phrase is the mention of the sacrifices to the Heaven regularly made by Chin's clan (presumably, in compliance with Central Asian nomadic shamanist tradition, which placed the Heaven on the top of its pantheon). In Chinese worldview, such sacrifices were the exclusive prerogative of the Son of Heaven (i.e. Chinese Emperor), and the Silla court's cult of the Heaven which was the most important element of indigenous royal ideology (see above) constituted, in fact, a flagrant violation of the ritual norms of the Chinese World Order. Probably, by evoking Chin's precedent, - unique instance of the known sacrifices to the Heaven by some positive personage who is not a Chinese Son of Heaven - King Sinmun wanted to prove that his court's ritual practices did comply with Chinese classic tradition, in broader meaning.

Among other mentions of Chinese mythological "emperors", philosophical concepts and cultural realities, there are that of legendary Emperor Yao (; "Yao was limitlessly lucid and bright [as sun and moon]", his successor Shun (; "Shun's sea-like [virtues resembled a good] rain, and he was eloquent and outstanding", the father of Shun's successor Yü (; known for his victory over the Great Flood) who was thought to become a yellow bear posthumously ("Yellow Bear expresses admiration", Yü's alleged birthplace in Shih-Niu (; mentioned in the phrase about Sŏnghan cited above), Yü's political idea of the "eight administrations" (""; "[King Munmu] was diligent and pitied [his subjects] just as [it is prescribed in the rules of the] 'eight administrations'"), Han Dynasty palace picture gallery, known as the "Unicorn Hall", or Lin-ko (; "Red and blue colours [of Silla pictures] are similar with that of Lin-ko [Gallery]", and Han palace library, known as the "Pavilion of Rue", or Yün-t'ai (; "[Silla historical books written on] bamboo and silk [resemble those in] Yün-t'ai". As we can see from them, King Sinmun wanted to be perceived as a successor to the line of legendary Chinese ancient "emperors" (Yao-Shun-Yü) and tried to demonstrate that Silla culture - pictures and historical books - was by no means inferior to that of Han dynasty (the dynasty which was thought of as the model of cultural "grandeur" at that time).

Unified Silla's rulers' intention to "divinify" their dynasty through proclaiming themselves the heirs - in the literal as well as in the more abstract cultural sense of the word - to the mythical god-kings of ancient China can be seen also in some other monuments of the period. For example, the inscriptions on the stelae of General Kim Yusin (by Sŏl Insŏn, presumably erected in the reign of King Munmu) and Temple Samnangsa (by Pak Kŏmul, cir. late 9th C.) cited in "Samguk Sagi" (Chapter 28, Chronicles of Paekche-6, "Reasoning [of the compiler]"/ ) glorify Silla's royal Kim clan as the descendants of Shao-Hao ( , or 筧), son of mythical Yellow Emperor (). Shao-Hao was thought to rule the world by the "virtue" ("") of the metal (; his other name was ), and that was the accidental coincidence of Shao-Hao's main "virtue" with Silla rulers' family name (Kim, ) that gave the Unified Silla kings the reason to claim this kind of "noble" descent. As we know from Kim Yusin's biography in "Samguk Sagi" (Chapter 41, "Biographies"), his clan (which was in very close relationship, matrimonial, political, and personal, to Kings T'aejong-Muyŏl and Munmu) also claimed the descent from the Yellow Emperor and Shao-Hao. As the ancestor of Silla royal family, Shao-Hao is also mentioned in the inscription on Kim Inmun's stele. As is well-known, both Yellow Emperor and Shao-Hao were usually included into the numerological scheme of the "Five Emperors" ("").

In a nutshell, the material of our inscription, put together with other relevant monuments of the period, shows that in the period of Unified Silla, and especially in late 7th C., Silla kings claimed the descent from ancient Chinese god-kings belonging to the both numerological groups of the "Three Emperors" ("߲", ex.: the Divine Farmer) and the "Five Emperors" ("", ex.: the Yellow Emperor and Shao-Hao), and emphasized their cultural connections to the legendary ancient Chinese divine rulers (Yao-Shun-Yü) as well as to the Han Dynasty institutions. I think that the reports in "San Guo Chih" (Chapter 30, "Account of Eastern Barbarians") and "Liang Shu" (Chapter 54, "[Account] of Various Barbarians") which described Silla people as the descendants of Ch'in (; B.C. 221-206) migrants (theory which reflected the Sino-centric views of its authors rather than historical facts) could facilitate Silla rulers' claim to the "kinship" with the mythical founders of divine kingship in ancient China, but those reports could hardly be the only factor which prompted them to make such a bold claim. Probably, those claims symbolically meant that, while acknowledging the China-centered order of the contemporary East Asia, Silla kings aspired to secure a privileged ("just next to Great T'ang") position for themselves in this order, making public their pretensions to the inheritance to the cultural legacy of ancient China. In the context of the Silla-T'ang War which followed the T'ang-assisted Unification of the Peninsula, such claims on the part of Silla also could mean the latter's will to establish itself as the legitimate contender against T'ang's hegemonistic policies on the Peninsula: as a self-proclaimed heir to the Yellow Emperor and Yao, Silla could feel more authorized to fight Great T'ang in practice, while acknowledging the "civilizing" functions of the classical Chinese culture theoretically. In other words, aggrandizing itself into the "heir" to almost all ancient Chinese demiurges and cosmocrators could help Silla to undermine T'ang's claim that the war on the peninsula was nothing more that "appeasement and civilizing of Eastern Barbarians": as a "civilized" state of Yellow Emperor's descendants itself, Silla did not need to be "civilized" forcefully and had the legitimate right to offer armed resistance to any aggressor, including Great T'ang.

3. Conclusion.

At the present paper, we attempted at reconstruction of Unified Silla royal ideology as presented in the inscription on the tomb stele of King Munmu. As we could see, the basic underlying notion of the text is the divine nature of the king's authority. As the sacred mediator between the Universe and the Human World, the Sacred and the Profane, the King was thought to be the earthly equal to the Heaven, the divine demiurge who organizes and structurizes the earthly world according to the eternal cosmic principles. Being a national variant of the universal concept of "divine kingship", and definitely having deep native roots, this notion is expressed here in classic Chinese, in phrases mostly taken from Chinese canons. This way of expression could not but strongly influence the originally indigenous notion literary shaping it along the lines of the ancient Chinese concept of "divine imperial authority". In fact, the royal ideology of Unified Silla is an interesting example of how two national variations of the same universal notion can interact with each other.

As the embodiment of the Heaven in the Earth, the King is being protected by the "luck-bringing" magic virtues () of his demigodly ancestor, Sŏnghan/Alji, born in the sacral forest of the Cock - Kyerim, and also enjoys the obedience and assistance of the "earthly" or sea deities lesser than He - like the goddesses of the Three Mountains, the Dragon of the Eastern Sea. Regarding himself as the successor to the god-kings of the ancient China and the glory of Han Dynasty culture, He demonstrates his Confucian virtues as well. In a word, only the presence of the Divine King can incorporate his kingdom in sacred space of heavenly, mountain, and sea gods, and sacred time of the divine ancestors, both native and Chinese.

Interesting feature of this ideological system (as reflected in the text of our inscription) is always total absence of Buddhism, which is mentioned only once, and only as the king's personal faith which made him to prefer cremation as the funeral ritual. Such silence give us some ground to re-think traditional notion of Buddhism as one of the most important elements of Unified Silla's official ideology, based mostly on "Samguk Yusa" accounts, much influenced by the realities of late Koryŏ time and Iryŏn's own ideological inclinations. Doubtlessly, Buddhism was one of the dominant forces in Unified Silla culture, and was largely dependant on state assistance and protection, but royal ideology of King Sinmun's time, as seen from our inscription, is mostly based on indigenous and Confucian concepts. Still, later, especially during the reign of King Kyŏngdŏk (742-765) and after, Buddhism was integrated into the royal ideology to a much greater degree, and it was also reflected by the relevant epigraphs.

Finally, I will attempt to understand how the contemporary political context could influence the royal ideology of King Sinmun, which, as I think, is, at least, partly reflected in the text of the inscription. As is well-known, King Sinmun, the successor of autocracy-oriented King Munmu, continued to pursue the latter's policies of strengthening the centralized monarchy through the build-up of mighty governmental apparatus and weakening of the powerful chin'gol aristocracy - the only check on royal power in Silla political system. If the emergency conditions of the Unification War required political alliance between the court and aristocracy, with certain concessions by the former in the latter's favour, the following lasting period of peace enabled the royals to change the traditional balance of power. This policy, quite visible toward the end of Munmu's reign, provoked the reasonable dissatisfaction of powerful noblemen - among them the heroes of the Unification War, in command of large private armies of their own retainers - and, on Munmu's death, sop'an (the 3rd official rank) Kim Hŭmdol's (king Sinmun's father-in-law) rebellion erupted. The riot was ruthlessly suppressed, with many prominent chin'gol warlords being executed and newly-enthroned king's authority strengthened in result ("Samguk Sagi", Chapter 8, Chronicles of Silla, the first year of King Sinmun's reign). After this, the series of radical reforms aimed at reinforcing of governmental rule in the center and in provinces and ultimate "autocratization" of the monarchical power were boldly implemented: the Royal Guards (siwibu) and Personnel Bureau (wihwabu) were augmented and strengthened, five-graded hierarchy of governmental posts (ryŏng-kyŏng-taesa-saji-sa) established in its complete form, administrative division of the country into nine provinces (chu) and five "minor capitals" (sogyŏng) also completed, and system of land allotments to civil and military officials initiated ("Samguk Sagi", Chapter 8, Chronicles of Silla, King Sinmun's reign). Ideologically, such attempt at bureaucratization of previously mainly aristocratic power structure required the increasing import and "domestication" of Confucian ideas. The establishment of the State University (Kukhak; 682) and import of books on state rituals from T'ang (686) all served this purpose. Therefore, the important role of Confucian ideas and special attention paid to the imagined connections of the Silla rulers with the exemplary king of ancient China - glorified in the later Confucian texts - in the text of our inscription also can be ascribed to this experiments in bureaucratization and Confucianization of the whole state structure.

4. Main Bibliography.

- Traditional sources:

"Chõsen kinseki sõran" (Kor.: "Chosŏn kŭmsŏk ch'ongnam"; 1919)

"Hăitũng Chīn-shih Yüàn" (Kor.: "Haedong Kŭmsŏk wŏn"; 1831)

"Igyejip" (1843-1846)

"Samguk Sagi" (1145)

"Samguk Yusa" (1285)

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Ch'oe Gwangsik, "Kodae Han'gug-ŭi kukka-wa chesa" ("State and Sacrifices in Ancient Korea"). Published by Han'gil sa, Seoul, 1994.

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Hong Sajun, "Silla Munmuwang-nŭng tanbi ch'ugi" ("The Addendum to the [Previous Paper on the Re-discovery of] the Fragment of Silla King Munmu's Tomb Stele"), in <Kogo Misul> (<Archaeology and Arts>), Vol. 15, 1962.

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Lee Gwansik. Han'guk kodae inmyŏng-ŏ ŏwŏn yŏn'gu (A Study of the Etymology of Korean Ancient Personal Names). Unpublished PhD. dissertation. Kyŏnghŭi University, Seoul, 1995.

Lee Jonguk, "Silla sangdae wangwi kyesŭng yŏn'gu" ("Study on the Succession to the Throne in the 'Sangdae' Period {B.C. 57 - A.D. 654} of Silla [History]"). Yŏngnam University Publishing Department, Taegu, 1980.

Lee Yŏngho, "Silla Munmuwang nŭngbi-ŭi chaegŏmt'o" ("Re-examination of the Tomb Stele of Silla King Munmu"), in <Yŏksa kyoyuk nonjip> (<Collection of Papers on the Historical Education>), Vol. 8, 1986, pp. 39-75.

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Sin Chongwŏn. "Silla ch'ogi pulgyo sa yŏn'gu" ("A Study on Early Buddhist History of Silla"). Published by Minjok sa, Seoul, 1992.




















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