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Korean people as "tigers"?

 
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:30 pm    Post subject: Korean people as "tigers"? Reply with quote
I thought I might share a conversation that's been going on on the Pre-Modern Japanese Studies mailing list. I presume that there's no rules against sharing here what was shared there, and hope that I'm right on that front... if anyone from PMJS is reading this, and thinks otherwise, I'd be happy to have the mods take down the post.

Anyway, getting to the point: Quoting a post to the PMJS listserve:

Quote:
One story in the Nihon Ryôiki (vol. 1/2Cool reports that the monk Dōshō on his trip to China was requested by 500 "tigers" 虎 from Silla to lecture on the Lotus Sutra - which he does only to find a Japanese among the crowd: The saint En no Gyōja (E no ubasoku). According to the Ryoiki, the event takes place after the year 701 which is slightly anachronistic since Dōshō is known to have lived from 629-700. Nevertheless the fact that a monk preaches to wild beasts is somewhat untypical for the quite "realistic" style of the Ryōiki. My question is therefore whether "tigers" could be something like a nickname, for instance for people from (former) Silla.

I found a somewhat similar account in the Nihon Shoki where a certain Tokushi, a monk from Goguryeo is said to have learned agricultural techniques and the art of accupuncture from a "tiger" (this event is situated in Kōgyoku 4 [645]).

Being anything but an expert of ancient Korean history I only know of the myth that the semi-god Hwanung who chose among a tiger(woman) and a bear(woman), eventually deciding for the bear. The child of this couple was Dangun, the mythical ancestor of all Koreans. Obviously the legend was recorded much later than the Ryoiki (early 9th c.) but if we assume an ancient origin, it may provide a certain clue to the question, who "tigers" in ancient Korea could be, namely a neighboring, but propably "primitive" population (or perhaps the people from Silla from a Koguryeo/Baekje perspective?)


And the response from one scholar:

Quote:
David Waterhouse, “Where did Toragaku come from?” Musica Asiatica 6 (1991) 73–94, notes that OJ tora, in the context of gagaku, was probably a variant of tanra, a name for the island now called Chejudo (Cecwu.to), viz. t‘amna (tham.la). If so, then tora虎 ‘tiger’ could be ateji.


I have not myself the time right now to read this Waterhouse article, but, just thought I would post this question and answer in case anyone here might find it of interest. Cheers.
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Tsubame1
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks Lord. Interesting. Smile
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