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A Chinese Traveler in Medieval KoreaXu Jing's Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryo$
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Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856441

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856441.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

An Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryŏ

An Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryŏ

(p.59) An Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryŏ
Korean Classics Library: Historical Materials
Sem Vermeersch
University of Hawai'i Press

This part comprises the forty chapters of the original work, together with the original preface, postscript, and the author’s biography. The work is organized thematically, covering the following topics: history (chapters 1–2), the capital Kaesŏng (3–6), the civil and military bureaucracy (7–16), religion (17–18), common people and customs (19–23), the reception of the embassy at the palace and the transfer of the imperial edict to the king of Koryŏ (24–32), the embassy ships and the route to Koryŏ (33–39), a concluding essay on what is similar to China (40). With more than 300 topics covered, this is a veritable encyclopedia of Koryŏ. There are famous passages such as his description of Koryŏ celadon and the bathing customs of the local people, but also important observations on the religious beliefs, clothing, transport, food, and much more. At the same time, Xu Jing pays close attention to the way the Koreans observe diplomatic protocol. He praises them for following the Chinese protocol closely, yet is at times condescending regarding their native customs and where they fail in their observance of certain Chinese customs. He also describes his encounters with Korean officials and the young King Injong, whom he rates very highly. Although there are several Chinese embassy records to other countries that have been preserved, this is by far the most detailed such account; in this respect it is also an important document for Chinese history.

Keywords:   travel literature, witness account, Illustrated Account of Koryŏ (Gaoli tujing), Korean customs, diplomatic protocol, King Injong (r. 1122–1146), Emperor Huizong (r. 1100–1125)

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