Item ID: 9426 TONGGUK MUNHŎN [or] DONGGUK MUNHŎN 東國文獻 [Lettered Worthies of the Eastern Kingdom]

A “Who’s Who” of Korean History

TONGGUK MUNHŎN [or] DONGGUK MUNHŎN 東國文獻 [Lettered Worthies of the Eastern Kingdom]

46; 45; 46; 45.5 folding leaves. Four vols. Large 8vo, orig. patterned brown semi-stiff wrappers (wrappers somewhat soiled & stained), orig. stitching. [Korea]: probably 19th century.

Undated edition of this collection of lists giving biographical data for notable personages from Korea, the “Eastern Kingdom.” The individuals are divided into categories, such as “high officials,” “famous servants of the throne,” and “scholars.” The last chapter of the book contains a list of institutions. The chapter on scholars opens with a brief biography of the famous medieval scholar Sŏl Chong 薛聰, who “explained the nine classics in the local language and in addition wrote history and prose” 以方言解九經又製史文. The statement about the use of “local language” (i.e., Korean) to read the classical Chinese Confucian canon comes from Samguk sagi 三國史記 [Historical Record of the Three Kingdoms, 1145] and is reproduced here for a Chosŏn readership. The Lettered Worthies of the Eastern Kingdom functions as a “Who’s Who” type of reference work.

Fang Chaoying (1908-85) used this text with great success when compiling his landmark bibliographical catalogue for the Asami library in 1969. Fang described it as a collection of “celebrities of Korea, a work consisting of honor lists under twenty headings...These lists have been invaluable aids to quick reference” (The Asami Library, 140).

Very good set of this useful work. Occasional staining (somewhat more severe in Vol. III). Minor worming in Vol. II.

Price: $4,750.00

Item ID: 9426