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Samguk-yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms)

Samguk-yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms)

Republic of Korea - Gunwi-gun, Republic of Korea


Samguk yusa is a book on ancient mythology, folkways, institutions, religion, life, and literature in Korea. The book was written from 1281 to 1285 by the Buddhist monk Ilyeon in the aftermath of the Mongol invasions of Korea (1231-1270). Samguk yusa was originally five chapters bound into two volumes. Copies were printed using woodblocks in 1394 and in 1512. No complete set of the 1394 edition survive to the present, but there remain single volumes from different sets that are kept by different owners. One complete set of the 1512 edition (with five chapters bound into two volumes) survives in South Korea. The nomination includes two volumes from two different sets of the 1394 edition and one complete set of the 1512 edition. They are respectively designated National Treasures of South Korea.

Samguk yusacan be viewed as an early form of ethnography that was practiced in Korea as early as in the 13th century in constructing collective consciousness among its people and ultimately establishing an independent perspective of history as part of the effort to fight against Mongol control (1270-1356). In the 13th century, countries in East Asia desperately needed to bring their peoples together and imbue them with a sense of community in order to counter the expanding power of the Mongol Empire. Samguk yusa is Korea’s response to the aggressive expansion of the Mongols in the 13th century, attesting to the practice of a form of ethnography and to the construction of independent historical views in East Asia at the time.




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Gunwi-gun, Republic of Korea
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