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The Practice of Women's Faith in Goryeo Dynasty

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2007, (86), pp.1-37
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Young-Mi Kim 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

There have been no studies that dealt with the specific practice of Goryeo women's faith, something they were immersed in throughout their lives. In this paper, we have examined the ascetic practice of women through specific case studies. They supported Buddhist temples by donating their property; those without property ownership provided their most precious goods or even their labor. Some became more active in reciting of the Buddha's name or reading the Sutra, and personally observing traditions including religious bowing and the Seon meditation. They prayed mainly to Amitabha and Avalokitesvara; the ruling class women who could read Chinese read the Sutra. These kind of practices were not to be found before the era of Goryeo. Meanwhile, women's gatherings were banned by the government as demoralizing behavior, because both men and women participated actively in religious assemblies. They attended Buddhist services all over the country and visited holy places like the Geumgang Mountain. Religious activities in such forms provided the women with the chance to travel around, away from home. They prayed for conception, health of their children and families through various practices. They also prayed for the repose of their departed parents and husbands. And they practiced Seon in various ways praying for their own rebirth in paradise, or entered the priesthood on their deathbed. Compared to men sitting in meditation in order to be enlightened, the equivalent practice appeared a little later among women. And no treatise related to Buddhism are known to be written by a woman. This is because of the social circumstances that restricted women to life that centered around their families.

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