Hyangga

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Hyangga
Hangul 향가
Hanja
Revised Romanization hyangga
McCune–Reischauer hyangga

Hyangga were poems written in the native writing system, composed in the Three Kingdoms, Unified Silla and early Goryeo periods of Korean history. Only a few have survived. The total number of extant hyangga ranges between 25[1] and 27, depending on whether certain hyangga are regarded as authentic or not.

Features[edit]

The hyangga were written in using Chinese characters in a system known as hyangchal. They are believed to have been first written down in the Goryeo period, as the style was already beginning to fade. 14 hyangga are recorded in the Samguk Yusa, and 11 in the Gyunyeojeon. Wihong, the husband of Queen Jinseong of Silla, and the monk Taegu-Hwasang compiled a book about hyanggas.[2]

The name hyangga is formed from the character for "back-country" or "rural village" (used by Silla people in describing their nation) and the character for "song." These poems are accordingly also sometimes known as "Silla songs."

Hyangga are characterized by a number of formal rules. The poems may consist of four, eight or ten lines. The ten-line poems are the most developed, structured into three sections with four, four, and two lines respectively. Many of the ten-line poems were written by Buddhist monks, thus Buddhist themes predominate the poems.

Another dominant theme was "death". Many of the poems are eulogies to monks, to warriors, and to family members -- in one case, a sister. The Silla period, especially before unification in 668 was a time of warfare and the hyangga capture the sorrow of mourning for the dead while Buddhism provided answers about where the dead go and the afterlife.

Example[edit]

A typical hyangga is "the Ode for Life Eternal", or perhaps, "the Ode for Nirvana". The poem is a song that calls upon the moon to convey the supplicant's prayer to the Western paradise, the home of Amita (or Amitabha - the Buddha of the Western paradise). The poem's authorship is somewhat unclear; it was either written by a monk named Gwangdeok (hangul:광덕 hanja:) or, one source says, the monk's wife.[3]

Idu Medieval Korean Modern Korean Translation
願往生歌 원왕생가 왕생을 기원하는 노래 Ode to Eternal Life

(translation by Mark Peterson, 2006)

月下伊低赤 달하 이제 달이여 이제 Oh Moon!
西方念丁去賜里遣 서방까정 가시리고 서방(西方) 넘어 가시려는고 As you go to the west this night,
無量壽佛前乃 무량수불전에 무량수불전(無量壽佛前)에 I pray thee, go before the eternal Buddha,
惱叱古音多可支白遣賜立 닛곰다가 살ㅂ고사서 일러서 사뢰옵소서 And tell him that there is one here
誓音深史隱尊衣希仰支 다짐 깊으샨 존에 울워러 다짐 깊으신 아미타불을 우러러 Who adores Him of the deep oaths,
兩手集刀花乎白良 두손 모도호살바 두 손을 모두어 And chants daily with hands together, saying
願往生願往生 원왕 생 원왕 생 왕생(往生)을 원하며 Oh grant me eternal life,
慕人有如白遣賜立 그럴 사람 있다 살ㅂ고사서 그리워하는 사람 있다 사뢰소서 Oh grant me eternal life,
阿耶 此身遣也置古 아으 이몸 기쳐두고 아아 이 몸을 남겨 놓고 But alas, can any of the 48 vows be kept
四十八大願成遣賜去 사십팔대원 일고살까 사십 팔 대원(大願) 이루실까 While still trapped in this mortal frame?

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ the translators of Il-yeon's: Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Book Two, page 107. Silk Pagoda (2006). ISBN 1-59654-348-5
  2. ^ the translators of Il-yeon's: Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Book Two, page 107. Silk Pagoda (2006). ISBN 1-59654-348-5
  3. ^ (Korean)Several examples of Hwangga

External links[edit]