Until its founding as a full-fledged kingdom, Silla was recorded using several hanja combinations to phonetically approximate its native Korean name. Among those used, there include 斯盧 (사로, Saro), 斯羅 (사라, Sara), 徐那(伐) (서나[벌], Seona[beol]), 徐耶(伐) (서야[벌], Seoya[beol]), 徐羅(伐) (서라[벌], Seora[beol]), and 徐伐 (서벌, Seobeol).
In 504, Jijeung of Silla standardized the characters into 新羅(신라), which in Modern Korean is pronounced "Shilla".
One etymological hypothesis suggests that the name Seorabeol might have been the origin of the word Seoul, meaning "capital city", and also the name of the present capital of South Korea, which was previously known as Hansung (漢城) or Hanyang (漢陽). The name of the Silla capital may have changed into its Late Middle Korean form Syeobeul (셔블), meaning "royal capital city," which might have changed to Syeoul (셔울) soon after, and finally resulted in Seoul (서울) in the Modern Korean language.
The name of either Silla or its capital Seorabeol was widely used throughout Northeast Asia as the ethnonym for the people of Silla, appearing as Shiragi in Japanese and as Solgo or Solho in the language of the medieval Jurchens and their later descendants, the Manchus, respectively. In the modern Mongolian language, Korea and Koreans are still known as Солонгос (Solongos), which seems to be an alteration of Silla influenced by the Mongolian word for "rainbow" (солонгоsolongo).
Silla was also referred to as Gyerim (鷄林, 계림), literally "chicken forest," a name that has its origins in the forest near the Silla capital. Legend has it that the state's founder was born in the same forest, hatched from the egg of a cockatrice (Kor. gyeryong, 雞龍, 계룡, literally "chicken-dragon").
During the Proto–Three Kingdoms period, central and southern Korea consisted of three confederacies called the Samhan. Silla began as Saro-guk, a statelet within the 12-member confederacy known as Jinhan. Saro-guk consisted of six villages and six clans.
According to Korean records, Silla was founded by Bak Hyeokgeose of Silla in 57 BC, around present-day Gyeongju. Hyeokgeose is said to have been hatched from an egg laid from a white horse, and when he turned 13, six clans submitted to him as king and established Saro-guk (also called Seona)[who?]. He is also the progenitor of the Bak (박) clan, now one of the most common family names in Korea.
In various inscriptions on monuments on the 13th king Munmu of Silla, it is recorded that King Munmu possibly came from an unknown Xiongnu tribe or that he has partially Xiongnu ancestry. According to several historians, it is possible that this unknown tribe was originally of Koreanic origin and joined the Xiongnu confederation. Later the tribes ruling family returned to Korea and married into the royal family of Silla. There are also some Korean researchers that point out that the grave goods of Silla and of the eastern Xiongnu are alike. Some Korean researchers point out that the grave goods of Silla and Xiongnu are alike, and some researchers insist that the Silla king is descended from Xiongnu. The Korean public broadcaster KBS has produced a documentary about this subject.
By the 2nd century, Silla existed as a distinct state in the southeastern area of the Korean peninsula. It expanded its influence over neighboring Jinhan chiefdoms, but through the 3rd century was probably no more than the strongest city-state in a loose federation.
To the west, Baekje had centralized into a kingdom by about 250, overtaking the Mahan confederacy. To the southwest, Byeonhan was being replaced by the Gaya confederacy. In northern Korea, Goguryeo, a kingdom by about 50 AD, destroyed the last Chinese commandery in 313 and had grown into a threatening regional power.
Emergence of a centralized monarchy
Naemul of Silla (356–402) of the Gim clan established a hereditary monarchy and took the royal title of Maripgan (麻立干). However, in Samguk Sagi, Naemul of Silla still appears as a title of Isageum (泥師今). He is considered by many historians as the starting point of the Gyeongju Gim (Kim) dynasty, which lasted more than 550 years. However, even when Gim monopolized the throne for more than 500 years, the worship of the founder Bak Hyeokgeose continued. In many popular explanations of this title, it is analyzed into two elements, with the first element alleged to be from the Korean root mari or meori meaning "head" or "hair," from 網笠 mangrip > mangnip "a traditional-style hat made of horsehair," from 毛笠 morip "a kind of hat worn by servants in the old days," from mirip ~ mireup "a knack, a trick, the hang of something," from Korean *madi > maji "the firstborn, the eldest (child of a family); an elder, a senior, a person whose age is greater than someone else's age," from Korean mat-jip "the house in which the head of a household lives, the main house on an estate," from a word related to Middle Korean marh meaning "stake, post, pile, picket, peg, pin (of a tent)" (cf. Modern Korean malttuk "id.," māl "sawhorse"), from mŏrŏ > maru "ridge, peak, crest (of a roof, a mountain, a wave, etc.); the outseam (of trousers or pants); zenith, climax, prime; the first, the standard," from maru ~ mallu "floor," etc. The second element, gan, is generally believed to be related to the Middle Korean word han meaning "great, grand, many, much," which was previously used for ruling princes in southern Korea, and may have some relationship with the Mongol/Turkic title Khan. In 377, Silla sent emissaries to China and established relations with Goguryeo.
Facing pressure from Baekje in the west and Japan in the south, in the later part of the 4th century, Silla allied with Goguryeo. However, when Goguryeo began to expand its territory southward, moving its capital to Pyongyang in 427, Nulji of Silla was forced to ally with Baekje.
Jinheung of Silla (540–576) established a strong military force. Silla helped Baekje drive Goguryeo out of the Han River (Seoul) area, and then wrested control of the entire strategic region from Baekje in 553, breaching the 120-year Baekje-Silla alliance. Also, King Jinheung established the Hwarang.
In the 7th century Silla allied itself with the ChineseTang dynasty. In 660, under Muyeol of Silla (654-661), Silla subjugated Baekje. In 668, under King Munmu of Silla (King Muyeol's successor) and General Gim Yu-sin, Silla conquered Goguryeo to its north. Silla then fought for nearly a decade to expel Chinese forces on the peninsula intent on creating Tang colonies there to finally establish a unified kingdom as far north as modern Pyongyang. The northern region of the defunct Goguryeo state later reemerged as Balhae.
Silla's middle period is characterized by the rising power of the monarchy at the expense of the jingol nobility. This was made possible by the new wealth and prestige garnered as a result of Silla's unification of the peninsula, as well as the monarchy's successful suppression of several armed aristocratic revolts following early upon unification, which afforded the king the opportunity of purging the most powerful families and rivals to central authority. Further, for a brief period of about a century from the late 7th to late 8th centuries the monarchy made an attempt to divest aristocratic officialdom of their landed base by instituting a system of salary payments, or office land (jikjeon, 직전, 職田), in lieu of the former system whereby aristocratic officials were given grants of land to exploit as salary (the so–called tax villages, or nogeup, 녹읍, 祿邑).
By the late 8th century, however, these royal initiatives had failed to check the power of the entrenched aristocracy. The mid to late 8th century saw renewed revolts led by branches of the Gim clan which effectively limited royal authority. Most prominent of these was a revolt led by Gim Daegong that persisted for three years. One key evidence of the erosion of kingly authority was the rescinding of the office land system and the re-institution of the former tax village system as salary land for aristocratic officialdom in 757.
The middle period of Silla came to an end with the assassination of Hyegong of Silla in 780, terminating the kingly line of succession of Muyeol of Silla, the architect of Silla's unification of the peninsula. Hyegong's demise was a bloody one, the culmination of an extended civil war involving most of the kingdom's high–ranking noble families. With Hyegong's death, during the remaining years of Silla, the king was reduced to little more than a figurehead as powerful aristocratic families became increasingly independent of central control.
Thereafter the Silla kingship was fixed in the house of Wonseong of Silla (785–798), though the office itself was continually contested among various branches of the Gim lineage.
Nevertheless, the middle period of Silla witnessed the state at its zenith, the brief consolidation of royal power, and the attempt to institute a Chinese style bureaucratic system.
Decline and fall
The final century and a half of the Silla state was one of nearly constant upheaval and civil war as the king was reduced to little more than a figurehead and powerful aristocratic families rose to actual dominance outside the capital and royal court.
The tail end of this period, called the Later Three Kingdoms period, briefly saw the emergence of the kingdoms of Later Baekje and Later Goguryeo, which were really composed of military forces capitalizing on their respective region's historical background, and Silla's submission to the Goryeo dynasty.
From at least the 6th century, when Silla acquired a detailed system of law and governance, social status and official advancement were dictated by the bone rank system. This rigid lineage-based system also dictated clothing, house size and the permitted range of marriage.
Since its emergence as a centralized polity Silla society had been characterized by its strict aristocratic makeup. Silla had two royal classes: "sacred bone" (seonggol, 성골, 聖骨) and "true bone" (jingol, 진골, 眞骨). Up until the reign of King Muyeol this aristocracy had been divided into "sacred bone" and "true bone" aristocrats, with the former differentiated by their eligibility to attain the kingship. This duality had ended when Queen Jindeok, the last ruler from the "sacred bone" class, died in 654. The numbers of "sacred bone" aristocrats had been decreasing for generations, as the title was only conferred to those whose parents were both "sacred bones", whereas children of a "sacred" and a "true bone" parent were considered as "true bones". There were also many ways for a "sacred bone" to be demoted to a "true bone", thus making the entire system even more likely to collapse eventually.
The king (or queen) theoretically was an absolute monarch, but royal powers were somewhat constrained by a strong aristocracy.
The "Hwabaek" (화백-和白) served as royal council with decision-making authorities on some vital issues like succession to the throne or declarations of war. The Hwabaek was headed by a person (Sangdaedeung) chosen from the "sacred bone" rank. One of the key decisions of this royal council was the adoption of Buddhism as state religion.
Following unification Silla began to rely more upon Chinese models of bureaucracy to administer its greatly expanded territory. This was a marked change from pre-unification days when the Silla monarchy stressed Buddhism, and the Silla monarch's role as a "Buddha-king". Another salient factor in post-unification politics were the increasing tensions between the Korean monarchy and aristocracy.
Other items uncovered during the excavation[which?] include a silver bowl engraved with an image of the Persian goddess Anahita; a golden dagger from Persia; clay busts; and figurines portraying Middle Eastern merchants. Samguk Sagi—the official chronicle of the Three Kingdoms era, compiled in 1145—contains further descriptions of commercial items sold by Middle Eastern merchants and widely used in Silla society. The influence of Iranian peoples culture was profoundly felt in other ways as well, most notably in the fields of music, visual arts, and literature. The popularity of Iranian designs in Korea can be seen in the widespread use of pearl-studded roundels and symmetrical, zoomorphic patterns. An ancient Persian epic poem, the Kushnameh, contains detailed descriptions of Silla.
The early Silla military was built around a small number of Silla royal guards designed to protect royalty and nobility and in times of war served as the primary military force if needed. Due to the frequency of conflicts between Baekje and Goguryeo as well as Yamato Japan, Silla created six local garrisons one for each district. The royal guards eventually morphed into "sworn banner" or Sodang units. In 625 another group of Sodang was created. Garrison soldiers were responsible for local defense and also served as a police force.
A number of Silla's greatest generals and military leaders were Hwarang (equivalent to the Western knights or chevaliers). Originally a social group, due to the continuous military rivalry between the Three Kingdoms of Korea, they eventually transformed from a group of elite male aristocratic youth into soldiers and military leaders. Hwarang were key in the fall of Goguryeo (which resulted in the unification of the Korean Peninsula under Unified Silla) and the Silla–Tang Wars, which expelled Tang forces in the other two Korean kingdoms.
A significant number of Silla tombs can still be found in Gyeongju, the capital of Silla. Silla tombs consist of a stone chamber surrounded by a soil mound. The historic area around Gyeongju was added to the UNESCOWorld Heritage list in 2000. Much of it is also protected as part of Gyeongju National Park. Additionally, two villages near Gyeongju named Hahoe and Yangdong Folk Village were submitted for UNESCO heritages in 2008 or later by related cities and the South Korean government. Since the tombs were harder to break into than those of Baekje, a larger number of objects has been preserved. Notable amongst these are Silla's elaborate gold crowns and jewelry.
The current descendants to the Silla dynasty fall under the Park name. Family records since the last ruler have been provided, but these records have yet to be fully verified.
Buddhism was introduced to Silla in 528. Silla had been exposed to the religion for over a century during which the faith had certainly made inroads into the native populace. The Buddhist monk Ado introduced Silla to Buddhism when he arrived to proselytize in the mid 5th century. However, according to legend, the Silla monarchy was convinced to adopt the faith by the martyrdom of the Silla court noble Ichadon, who was executed for his Buddhist faith by the Silla king in 527 only to have his blood flow the color of milk.
The importance of Buddhism in Silla society of the late early period is difficult to exaggerate. From King Beopheung and for the following six reigns Silla kings adopted Buddhist names and came to portray themselves as Buddhist–kings.
Silla's strong Buddhist nature is also reflected by the thousands of remnant Buddhist stone figures and carvings, mostly importantly on Namsan. The international influence of the Tang Dynasty on these figures and carvings can be witnessed in the hallmarks of a round full form, a stern expression of the face, and drapery that clings to the body, but stylistic elements of native Korean culture can still be identified.
Korea's and Iran's long-running relationship started with cultural exchanges date back to the Three Kingdoms of Korea era, more than 1600 years ago by the way of the Silk Road. A dark blue glass was found in the Cheonmachong Tomb, one of Silla's royal tombs unearthed in Gyeongju. An exotic golden sword was found in Gyerim-ro, a street also located in Gyeongju. These are all relics that are presumed to be sent to Silla from ancient Iran or Persia through the Silk Road. It was only during the Goryeo Dynasty during King HyeonJong's reign when trade with Persia was officially recorded in Korean history. But in academic circles, it is presumed that both countries had active cultural exchanges during the 7th century Silla era which means the relationship between Korea and Iran began more than 1500 years ago."In a history book written by the Persian scholar Khurdadbid, it states that Silla is located at the eastern end of China and reads 'In this beautiful country Silla, there is much gold, majestetic cities and hardworking people. Their culture is comparable with Persia'.
"The Kushnameh, that tells of a Persian prince who went to Silla in the seventh century and got married with a Korean princess, thus forming a royal marriage.” Park Geun-hye said during a Festival celebrating Iran and Korea's 1500 years of shared cultural ties.
↑ 57 BC according to the Samguk Sagi; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced back to a time period that is anywhere near its legendary founding."
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Han may refer to:
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There are various names of Korea in use today, all derived from ancient kingdoms and dynasties. The modern English name "Korea" is an exonym derived from the name Goryeo, also spelled Koryŏ, and is used by both North Korea and South Korea in international contexts. In the Korean language, the two Koreas use different terms to refer to the nominally unified nation: Chosŏn in North Korea and Hanguk in South Korea. Ethnic Koreans living in China and Japan also use the term Chosŏn to refer to Korea.
Baekje was a kingdom located in southwestern Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla.
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refers to the three kingdoms of Baekje, Silla and Goguryeo. Goguryeo was later known as Goryeo, from which the modern name Korea is derived. The Three Kingdoms period is defined as being from 57 BC to 668 AD.
Hyeokgeose of Silla, also known by his personal full name as Bak Hyeokgeose (朴赫居世), was the founding monarch of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He was the progenitor of all Bak (Park) clans in Korea. His other names in Japanese historical records include Inai no Mikoto (稻飯命), Inai no Mikoto (稻飮命), Hiko Inai no Mikoto (彦稲飯命) in 日本書紀 and Inai no Mikoto (稻氷命) in 古事記.
Gim Yu-shin, also known as Kim Yu-shin, was a general in 7th-century Silla. He led the unification of the Korean Peninsula by Silla under the reign of King Muyeol of Silla and King Munmu of Silla. He is said to have been the great-grandchild of King Guhae of Geumgwan Gaya, the last ruler of the Geumgwan Gaya state. This would have given him a very high position in the Silla bone rank system, which governed the political and military status that a person could attain.
Byeonhan, also known as Byeonjin, was a loose confederacy of chiefdoms that existed from around the beginning of the Common Era to the 4th century in the southern Korean peninsula. Byeonhan was one of the Samhan, along with Mahan and Jinhan.
Mahan was a loose confederacy of statelets that existed from around the 1st century BC to 5th century AD in the southern Korean peninsula in the Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces. Arising out of the confluence of Gojoseon migration and the Jin state federation, Mahan was one of the Samhan, along with Byeonhan and Jinhan. Baekje began as a member statelet, but later overtook all of Mahan and became one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.
Jinhan was a loose confederacy of chiefdoms that existed from around the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD in the southern Korean Peninsula, to the east of the Nakdong River valley, Gyeongsang Province. Jinhan was one of the Samhan, along with Byeonhan and Mahan. Apparently descending from the Jin state of southern Korea, Jinhan was absorbed by the later Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.
The state of Jin was a confederacy of statelets which occupied some portion of the southern Korean peninsula during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE, bordering the Korean kingdom Gojoseon to the north. Its capital was somewhere south of the Han River. It preceded the Samhan confederacies, each of which claimed to be successors of the Jin state.
Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the Byeonhan, Jinhan, and Mahan confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea, or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the Korean Peninsula, the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and developed into the Baekje, Gaya, and Silla kingdoms. The name "Samhan" also refers to the Three Kingdoms of Korea.
Anjang of Goguryeo was the 22nd ruler of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. With his original name of Heung-an, he was the eldest son of Munjamyeong. He was named Crown Prince in the seventh year of Munjamyeong's reign (498), and assumed the throne when his father died in 519. He was supposedly assassinated in 531 without heir.
The language of the kingdom of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, is poorly attested, and scholars differ on whether one or two languages were used. However, at least some of the material appears to be related to the Old Korean of the neighbouring Silla kingdom.
Gaya, also rendered Kaya or Karak, is the presumed language of the Gaya confederacy in southern Korea. Only one word survives that is directly identified as being from the language of Gaya. Other evidence consists of place names, whose interpretation is uncertain.
Lady Saso lived in Jinhan confederacy. She was also known as Sacred Mother of Mt. Seondo (Hangul:선도산) and she was from Chinese royal family. She came from China to Jinhan confederacy and gave birth to Hyeokgeose of Silla and his wife Lady Aryeong. There are specific descriptions in Samguk yusa and Samguk Sagi.
Lady Aryeong was a daughter of Lady Saso who was from the Chinese royal family and moved to the Jinhan confederacy. She was married to Hyeokgeose of Silla who was the founder of Silla and he was also a son of Lady Saso. According to Samguk Yusa, Aryeong was born from the left side of the dragon which appeared near the well. However, the Samguk Sagi, says it was the right side. According to the Buddhist monk Il-yeon, the “dragon” in these histories refers to Lady Saso.
The Gyerim Territory Area Command was an autonomous administration established in Silla territory by the Tang dynasty. In the place of Baekje and Goguryeo, the Tang created the Protectorate General to Pacify the East, Ungjin Commandery and Gyerim Territory Area Command.
Jinping Commandery was the territory of Baekje in Liaoxi of China. It appeared in history books of Southern dynasties of China such as Book of Song, Book of Liang and Book of Qi. However its existence is disputed by many historians.
The Han languages were the languages of the Samhan of ancient southern Korea, the confederacies of Mahan, Byeonhan and Jinhan. They are mentioned in surveys of the peninsula in the 3rd century found in Chinese histories, which also contain lists of placenames. There is no consensus about the relationships between these languages and with the languages of later kingdoms.
Silla is a descendant of the Jinhan confederacy. Its land is in the southeast of Goguryeo and it is an old land, (once held by) the Lelang Commandery of Han dynasty. It is called Jinhan or Qinhan. According to Xiangyun (相伝), its founders were fugitives who arrived to avoid hardship during the Qin dynasty. Mahan gave their eastern land to them and settled those Qin people there. Therefore, this is called Qinhan. Their language and name are similar to Chinese.
The location of Jinhan is east of Mahan. They are fugitives who came to Korea to avoid the hardship of the Qin dynasty. Mahan said they gave their eastern land to them. They set up castle fences and their language is similar to the one in Qin dynasty. It is also called Qinhan.
↑ Horesh, N. (2014). Asian Thought on China's Changing International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan. p.175. ISBN978-1137299321. "According to the Samguksagi entry for the 38th year of King Bak Hyeogeose of Silla, it is claimed that refugees from Qin settled in Jinhan, that is south-eastern Korea."
The History of the Later Han Dynasty writes, "An old person from Chenhan State said that some refugees came to Korea from the Chinese Empire of Qin, and Mahan gave them some land of her eastern border.
Jinhan confederacy is located in the east of Mahan confederacy. In the traditions of that area, the people of Jinhan were ancient fugitives who came to Korea to avoid the hardships of the Qin dynasty, and Mahan gave them their eastern land. They set up a castle fence and the language they speak is not the same as Mahan’s. There, they call “Guo” (Hanja: 国) (country) “Bang” (Hanja: 邦); “Gong” (Hanja: 弓) (arrow) “Hu” (Hanja: 弧); “Zei” (Hanja: 賊) (thief) “Kou” (Hanja: 寇); and “Xingjiu” (Hanja: 行酒) “Xingshang” (Hanja: 行觴).
The people of Jinhan are ancient fugitives who came to Korea to avoid the hardships of the Qin dynasty. Mahan said they gave their eastern land to them. In Jinhan, country is called “Bang (邦)”, arrow is called “Hu (弧)”, thief is called “Kou (寇)”, ”Xingjiu (行酒)” called as “Xingshang (行觴)” (turning cups of alcoholic drink) and they call each other “Tu (徒)”. Their language is similar to the language of Qin. So, this place is also called Qinhan.
Book of Jin Volume 97, History of Jinhan Classical Chinese
The location of Jinhan is east of Mahan. They are fugitives who came to Korea to avoid the hardships of the Qin dynasty. Mahan said they gave their eastern land to them. They set up castle fences and their language is similar to the one in Qin dynasty. It is also called Qinhan.