A Chinese Traveler in Medieval Korea: Xu Jing’s Illustrated by Sem Vermeersch

By Sem Vermeersch

"The king and ministers, better and inferior, circulate with ritual and refinement. while the king is going on an inspection travel, each person has the proper ceremonial attributes and the divine flag [troops] gallop in entrance whereas armored squaddies block the line. the warriors of the Six Divisions all carry their attributes. even though it isn't really thoroughly in uniformity with vintage rites, in comparison with different barbarians it really is excellent to behold. it is because Confucius notion it should now not be a disgrace to live right here. and isn't in addition Kija's kingdom a detailed relative of the hallowed dynasty?"

So saw the tune envoy Xu Jing within the authentic record of his 1123 stopover at to Korea—a infrequent eyewitness account of Koryŏ (918–1392) society in its major. formally, the aim of Xu Jing's stopover at was once to condole the recent king, Injong, at the loss of life of his father and current him with a letter of investiture; unofficially, he was once tasked with persuading Injong to align with music China opposed to the newly emergent Jin dynasty. even though well-known for its celadon and Buddhist work, the Koryŏ interval continues to be greatly terra incognita in global heritage as a result of loss of translated resource fabrics. the current paintings, the 1st totally annotated, entire translation of a key resource textual content on Koryŏ, fills this gap.

Xu Jing spent a bit greater than a month within the Koryŏ capital, Kaesŏng, yet he was once a meticulous chronicler, compiling a veritable guide on Koryŏ that's choked with interesting info discovered nowhere else on everyday life, heritage, customs and manners, constructions, the army, foodstuff, between others. despite the fact that, Xu Jing used to be now not impartial in his observations and supplemented his paintings with unreliable details from past chronicles—a truth frequently overlooked in past reports of the Illustrated Account. In a considerable creation to his translation, Sem Vermeersch not just areas this crucial paintings in its old context, but additionally unearths either the resources utilized by the writer and the advantages and boundaries of his observations, permitting historians of medieval Korea to make fuller use of this singular fundamental source.

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