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Reexamination of relevant data concerning the Mount Odae(五臺山) cult in Korea - Critical Analysis of records inside Remaining History of the Three Dynasties -

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2015, (118), pp.203-232
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Kwangyeon Park 1

1불교문화연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Examined in this article are remaining historical references to the beliefs and mythology that involved the Mount Odae in Korea, in order to provide a critical analysis that would help define and progress the ongoing discussion concerning the validity of Mount Odae related records inside Remaining History of the Three Dynasties(三國遺事). Primarily examined are History of Mount Odae(五臺山事蹟), General History of Korean Buddhism(朝鮮佛敎通史), epigraph materials from the Shilla period and Choi Chi-weon’s own writings, personal anthologies from the Goryeo period, and Mount Wutai Illustrated(五臺山圖), excavated from the Tunhuang region. Contents of the Mount Odae-related records in History of Mount Odae and Mount Wutai Illustrated all seem to have been written in the second half of the 8th century, when the Shilla people first became aware and conscious of the Mount Wutai of the Chinese Dang dynasty. Ever since, many Shilla people went and visit the Mount Wutai, and before at least the mid-9th century, a Korean mountain in the Gang’weon-do province is known to have been named Odae(‘五臺’) as well. It seems that the cults involving Mount Odae continued to exist in the early half of the Goryeo dynasty period, but there are not much historical material to verify it. It is only in the 13th century’s latter half as well as the 14th century that relevant records apparently started to increase, which seems to have been triggered by the spreading of the “Affiliated Place for the Bodhisattva” belief. That seems like the main reason behind so many references to the Mount Odae being inserted in Remaining History of the Three Dynasties. According to Mount Wutai Illustrated, which is believed to have been created around the 10th century, a Shilla prince and an emissary allegedly visited Mount Wutai. Some believe that this Shilla prince was in fact the renowned Buddhist priest Jajang(慈藏). But Jajang only stayed in Dang up until 643, when the so-called Mount Wutai cult was not yet formed. There is another possibility. If there had been a notion that ‘Shilla prince Jajang’ once visited the Dang Chinese Mount Wutai, around the time Mount Wutai Illustrated was created, it could have been a result of certain Shilla folklore tales, based upon other earlier tales that involved Dang Mount Wutai, being created first and then spreaded to China. The examination mentioned above cast some serious doubts upon the validity of the records inside Remaining History of the Three Dynasties, which said that it was Jajang who relayed the Mount Wutai cult to Shilla, while two princes Bocheon(寶川) and Hyomyeong(孝明) stayed at Mount Odae for studies, and that it was Bocheon who established certain cults that could be used everywhere. Such presentation of events seems more like a depiction of a tale, rather than a historical description of facts. The historical background that formed such tales should be the object of discussion in future studies.

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