Heo Hwang-ok

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Heo Hwang-ok
Queen of Geumgwan Gaya
Spouse Suro of Geumgwan Gaya
Issue Geodeung of Geumgwan Gaya
This is a Korean name; the family name is Heo.
Heo Hwangok
Queen Suro Tomb.jpg
Tomb of Heo Hwang-ok in Gimhae
Born Ajutuo
Other names Hurh Hwangok, Huh Hwang-ok
Korean name
Hangul 허황옥
Hanja 許黃玉
Revised Romanization Heo Hwang-ok
McCune–Reischauer Hŏ Hwang'ok

Heo Hwang-ok is a legendary queen that mentioned in Samguk Yusa, a 13th-century Korean chronicle. She was the wife of King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya. The legend states that she arrived on a boat from a distant kingdom of India (Tamil Nadu), and married the king in the year 48 CE. She was the first queen of Geumgwan Gaya, and is considered the first queen of Gaya Kingdom. Professor JUNG NAM KIM of Canada has made extensive study on this subject of Tamil - Korean relationship.

Origins[edit]

The legend of Heo is found in Garakgukgi (or Gaehwangryeok, the Record of Garak Kingdom) within Samguk Yusa.[1] According to the legend, Heo was a princess of the Ayuta (or Ajutuo) kingdom, otherwise known as Ch'un-ch'uk.[2] The extant records do not identify Ayuta except as a distant country. Some writers identify it with Ayodhya in India.[3] Others, such as Grafton K. Mintz, identify it with Ayutthaya in Thailand.[4][5]

This legend's origin is in question as Samguk Yusa is considered to mainly include folktales, legends and myths that have no historical data or support.

Marriage to Suro[edit]

After their marriage, Heo told Suro that she was 28 years old.[6] She stated her first name as "Hwang-ok" ("Yellow Jade") and her last name as "Heo" (or "Hurh"). She described how she landed up in Gaya as follows: The Heavenly Lord (Sange Je) appeared in her parents's dreams. He told them to send Heo to Suro, who had been chosen as the king of Gaya. The dream showed that the king had not yet found a queen. Heo's father then told her to go to Suro. After two months of a sea journey, she found Beondo, a peach which fruited only ever 3000 years.[2]

According to the legend, the courtiers of King Suro had requested him to select a wife from among the maidens they would bring to the court. However, Suro stated that his selection of a wife will be commanded by the Heavens. He commanded Yuch'ŏn-gan to take a horse and a boat to Mangsan-do, an island to the south of the capital. At Mangsan, Yuch'ŏn saw a vessel with a red sail and a red flag. He sailed to the vessel, and escorted it to the shores of Kaya (or Gaya, present-day kimhae/Gimhae). Another officer, Sin'gwigan went to the palace, and informed the King of the vessel's arrival. The King sent nine clan chiefs, asking them to escort the ship's passengers to the royal palace. [6]

Princess Heo stated that she wouldn't accompany the strangers. Accordingly, the King ordered a tent to be pitched on the slopes of a hill near the palace. The princess then arrived at the tent with her courtiers and slaves. The courtiers included Sin Po (or Sinbo) and Cho Kuang (or Chongwang). Their wives were Mojŏng and Moryang (or Morang) respectively. The twenty slaves carried gold, silver, jewels, silk brocade and tableware.[7] Before marrying the king, the princess took off her silk trousers (mentioned as a skirt in a different section of Samguk Yusa) and offered them to the mountain spirit. King Suro tells her that he also knew about Heo's arrival in advance, and therefore, did not marry the maidens recommended by his courtiers.[2]

When some of the Queen's escorts decided to return home, King Suro gave each of them thirty rolls of hempen cloth (one roll was of 40 yards). He also gave each person ten bags of rice for the return voyage. A part of the Queen's original convoy, including the two courtiers and their wives, stayed back with her. The queen was given a residence in the inner palace, while the two courtiers and their wives were given separate residences. The rest of her convoy were given a guest house of twenty rooms.[7]

Descendants[edit]

Heo and Suro had 12 children, the eldest son was Kŏdǔng. She requested Suro to let two of the children bear her maiden surname. Legendary genealogical records trace the origins of several Heo clans to these two children: Kimhae (or Gimhae), Hayang, Taein, Hansan and Yangcheon.[2] The Gimhae Kims trace their origin to the other eight sons. Overall, more than six million Koreans trace their lineage to Queen Heo, however, in Indian history, no records are found of this legend.[3] The other two were female and were married respectively to a son of Talhae and a noble of Silla.

The legend states that the queen died at the age of 157.[6]

Remains[edit]

The tombs believed to be that of Heo and Suro lie are located in Gimhae, South Korea. A pagoda traditionally held to have been brought to Korea on her ship is located near her grave. The Samguk Yusa reports that the pagoda was erected on her ship in order to calm the god of the ocean and allow the ship to pass. The unusual and rough form of this pagoda, unlike any other in Korea, may lend some credence to the account.[8]

The Samguk Yusa also records that a temple was built in honor of Heo and her husband by King Jilji in 452. The temple was called Wanghusa, or "the Queen's temple." Since there is no other record of Buddhism having been adopted in 5th-century Gaya, modern scholars have interpreted this as an ancestral shrine rather than a Buddhist temple.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Iryeon (tr. by Ha Tae-Hung & Grafton K. Mintz) (1972). Samguk Yusa. Seoul: Yonsei University Press. ISBN 89-7141-017-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d Won Moo Hurh (2011). "I Will Shoot Them from My Loving Heart": Memoir of a South Korean Officer in the Korean War. McFarland. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0-7864-8798-1. 
  3. ^ a b "Korean memorial to Indian princess". BBC News. 2001-05-03. 
  4. ^ Il-yeon: Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Book Two, page 141ff. Silk Pagoda (2006). ISBN 1-59654-348-5
  5. ^ Mark Peterson (1 January 2009). Brief History: Brief History of Korea. Infobase Publishing. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-1-4381-2738-5. 
  6. ^ a b c James Huntley Grayson (2001). Myths and Legends from Korea: An Annotated Compendium of Ancient and Modern Materials. Psychology Press. pp. 110–116. ISBN 978-0-7007-1241-0. 
  7. ^ a b Choong Soon Kim (16 October 2011). Voices of Foreign Brides: The Roots and Development of Multiculturalism in Korea. AltaMira Press. pp. 31–33. ISBN 978-0-7591-2037-2. 
  8. ^ a b Kwon Ju-hyeon (권주현) (2003). 가야인의 삶과 문화 (Gayain-ui salm-gwa munhwa, The culture and life of the Gaya people). Seoul: Hyean. p. 212-214. ISBN 89-8494-221-9. 

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