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Where does the 'kara' reading for Tang / China come from?

 
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:39 am    Post subject: Where does the 'kara' reading for Tang / China come from? Reply with quote
This is a small point, but an assertion I find quite interesting. I wonder if anyone else has anything to support or oppose it, or other comments.

As many are already aware, the character 唐, indicating the T'ang Dynasty of China, is often used to refer to China pan-historically, or to foreign things more widely. Sometimes it is pronounced and sometimes kara. For example, there's karate, which was once Chinese hand (唐手) before it was empty hand (空手); karahafu (唐破風), a particular style of roof gabling unique to Japan (and not seen in China); and words like tôjin (唐人) and tôsen (唐船), Chinese/foreign people and ships, respectively, words which come up quite prominently when studying certain topics which I do, e.g. Nagasaki in the Edo period, trade with Southeast Asia, perceptions of Okinawa, etc.

But, getting to the point, here's something interesting I came across in a reading on the construction of the conception and appearance of foreigners (tôjin) in the Edo period:

To paraphrase and summarize, the reading kara did not always refer to the Tang Dynasty, or to China, but was applied later. Originally, it referred to a Korean state known as Kaya or Gaya (加羅, kara) or Mimana, with which the pre-Nara Yamato state had extensive ties. This reading, i.e. the word kara, originated there and would only later be applied to Han Korea (韓), and then to Tang (唐) China in the Heian period.

(Source: Suzuki, Keiko. "The Making of Tôjin: Construction of the Other in Early Modern Japan." Asian Folklore Studies vol. 66 (2007). pp83-105.)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Interesting.

The thing I would look at is that "kara" is the "Japanese" reading of the character (kun'yomi). The on'yomi matches up more closely with the Chinese reading of Tang.

Look at other characters that have a reading of "kara":
漢 (Han) 唐 (Tang) 韓 (Korea).

And I find for "Kaya":

加羅/伽羅/迦羅

Which is pronounced "Kara" (in fact, the dictionary defines it under "Kara" rather than "Kaya").

So, I'd say that this is probably a reasonable assumption.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Found this thread rather late.

The “kara” reading for 唐 is indeed believed to have come from the ancient Kara/Kaya Federation (伽耶諸国), which was located in modern-day Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang Province). Both “kaya” and “kara” are acceptable in Korean and Japanese scholarship.

To be clear, however, it is believed to have gone through the following evolution: Kuyakan (狗邪韓国)→Kinkan (金官国)→Kara/Kaya Federation (伽耶諸国)→Korean Peninsula (朝鮮半島)→China (中国[Tang (唐)])→Foreign countries in general (外国).

The ancient country of Kinkan (金官国), which sits on the opposite coast of Tsushima (対馬) and at the mouth of the Nakdong River (洛東江), was originally called “kara.” The Kinkan area was once the yet ancient kingdom of Kuyakan (狗邪韓国), which is recorded in the Wei chronicle as being the northernmost country of the Wa people, specifically the northernmost country Himiko’s federation. Archaeology has long provided evidence of close relations between northern Kyushu and this area, including burial goods bilaterally traversing the strait between the Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago. “Kuya” is believed to be linguistically related to the later “kara.”

Kinkan, one of the most powerful countries within the Kara/Kaya Federation, saw its heyday in the 4th and early-5th centuries. As this area played a special role in transporting advanced culture and technology into Kyushu and, thereby, the rest of the Japanese archipelago, its traditional name of “kara” came to refer to the whole federation, itself.

From the 4th to the 7th centuries, the Korean Peninsula was the greatest conduit for advanced culture and technology into the archipelago. The name of this gateway, “kara” was then applied to all of the peninsula. The connection between the term “kara” and coveted foreign goods, technologies, and ideas was strong enough to geographically detach the term and allow the contemporary Japanese to then refer to China, who played a much greater role in the formation of Japanese culture after the 4th-7th century “Korea route” lost strength. Lastly, the term then came to refer to foreign things in general.

Kumagai Kimio 熊谷公男, 『Daiou kara Tennou e』 『大王から天皇へ』, Koudansha 講談社, 2001, pages 20-21
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow. Fantastic. Thanks, man!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Is Gaya modern word?
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
"Gaya" is the modern Korean pronunciation of the old province name, much as certain words have changed in Japanese over time as well. Really it could be "Kaya" or "Gaya" depending on your system of romanization, I believe. "Gaya" seems to be what they use in Korea, now.


-Josh
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
There is a very strong Korean influence in Kibi no Kuni where I live. At the foot of Ki-no-Jo Castle, in the old administrative center Hattori, is the site of a 7th C temple called Kaya-dera 栢寺

There are many old place names in this area reflecting either Kaya or Kara. 賀陽町 Kayo-cho is said to be one.

Indeed the little village where I live is called Kaidani (Originally Kaya-dani) using the same unusual characters as for the temple above 栢谷
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Well, Ki-no-jo is a Korean-style mountain fortress, as I recall. I also seem to recall that a lot of Sillans were settled in that area according to the Nihon Shoki, but I may be misremembering.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yes, that is correct. At one time the leader who is alleged to have been there and to have wreaked havoc on the surrounding countryside was named Ura, 温羅 and the meaning of this name is to look back on or meditate on Ra, the -ra (or -la) in Silla 新羅

But then they were suppressed by an army sent by the central J government further east.
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