Valerio Anselmo
A research on the name Kudara
(published in 1974)
Several hypotheses on Kudara (6)

Hypotheses on Kudara (5)


Several hypotheses on Kudara (part six)

[page 42 of the original]
Finished in this way the point 3-a-α of the layout seen before, let's continue with the following point.

3-a-β) Kudara was the name of a landing place, or of another remarkable place on the way to the capital of Paekche.

The hypotheses mentioned in this paragraph are perhaps the most numerous and the most quaint.

One of the most credible of the hypotheses for the reconstruction of the name Kudara is that represented by Yang Chu-dong on p. 571 of the Koga yŏn’gu, cit. He says that an importart landing place for the river traffic towards Puyŏ (the ancient Sabi) was Kodajin 古多津, situated on the right bank of the Paengma 白馬 (or Kŭm) river. On the Taedong yŏjido 大東輿地圖, a map of Korea dating back to the 1861, this landing place appears to be situated to the north-west of Imch’ŏn 林川 202. From the name of this place would have derived the name Kudara. Taking the first two characters Koda 古多 as the phonetic transcription of a local name and the last one as the translation in Chinese of the term “landing place”, we can reconstruct a MK form Kodanɑrɑ from which we can go back to a *Kudanɑrɑ, a form very much near to the ancient Chinese pronounciations of the first two characters of the name given by Karlgren: 49a kuo: (*ko), 3a tâ (*tâ). From this *Kuda with the addition of the term -ra () already considered, or from *Kudanɑrɑ for the drop of the intermediate syllable -nɑ- we arrive at the name Kudara we are looking for. A logical objection we can raise against this theory is that we cannot understand why the Yamato court had to call Paekche not with its proper name, but with the name of a landing place which was'nt either the capital of the state.

Less far from the solution seems to be the hypothesis we will now introduce, which refers to a landing place which is also materially nearer to the ancient Sabi.

Some scholars, among whom Kim Sŏk-hyŏng 203 connect Kudara with the name Kudŭrae, a village situated on the river Paengma near Puyŏ. This hypothesis is interesting, even if it is probably linked to the local legends, because it has a first greater appearance of reliability. The village of Kudŭrae (or Kudŭre) 204 is located a few hundred meters from the site of the last capital of Paekche, Puyŏ; it is made by a few houses near the river, about the middle of a bend that the Paengma-gang makes in order to get past the group of hills on top of which Puyŏ is situated.
[page 43 of the original]
The village is the natural landing place of Puyŏ for the ships sailing up the river and, given the morphological characteristics of the ground which, immediately after, upstream of Kudŭrae, rises with steep cliffs sheer to the left bank of the river, we can suppose that this stream flowed more or less in the same place also at the time of the Paekche kingdom.

The theory, to which we pointed to, connects the name of Kodŭrae to a legend according which the king of Paekche (some say it was king Mu , others king Ŭija 義慈) 205 often went to the temple Wanghŭng 王興, located on he other side of the river as regards Puyŏ, to offer sacrifices to the Buddha. He waited for the ferry while seated on a rock which, in the colder season, was heated by a fire lighted under it, in a natural hole of the stone. Before the king arrived, somebody took care to light the fire, so that the rock, when the king arrived, was warm. It is said that once the king asked his ministers why on earth this rock was warm and that they answered him that it was so because of the virtue that he, the king, showed and that the heaven appreciated. The king then called this rock Chaondae 自溫臺, or “platform which warms up by itself”.

Ch'oe Sang-su 崔常壽 206 carries also another explanation. He says that, when the king went to Wanghŭngsa 王興寺 to offer sacrifices, he first mounted on this rock and, looking at the temple from far away, he bowed to the Buddha and, since the rock warmed by itself, he called it Chaondae (or Tolsŏk ). Here undoubtedly it hints to the fact mentioned in the Samguk yusa 207 according to which at Saja 泗沘 208 there was a rock on which could be seated more then ten persons and that warmed by itself 209. Hong Sa-jun 洪思俊 210 gives still another variant of the same story.
[page 44 of the original]
In a paragraph entitled Chaondae-wa Kudŭrae (“The self-warming rock and Kudŭrae”) he says that on a rock which is in front of Subukchŏng 水北亭 (Kyuammyŏn 窺岩面, Kyuamni 窺岩里) the word chaondae is engraved in big characters in the stone. According to what has been handed down from the ancient times, the king of Paekche came here and, seated on the rock, wrote down or fished. The width of the rock was as big as to allow more than ten persons to be seated. Another version of the fact, continues Hong Sa-jun, tells us that the true Chaondae, because of an upheaval of the riverbed, would now be buried under the waters of the Paengma and now is not to be seen any more 211. The two legends let us think that the rock in question is not the one that today bears the inscription Chaondae engraved on it, but another one. Hong Sa-jun is inclined to believe that the ancient “warm rock” (tolsŏk) be a rock that now is in the waters of the Paengma, about 50 or 60 meters upstream of the village of Kudŭrae (Puyŏmyŏn 扶餘面, Kugyori 舊校里), called kama pawi. The term kama, he says, means roughly “pot” (kama sot is the cauldron where one cooks), or it can be also explained in relation with “black” (root: kam-). One can think that the rock took its name from the fact that people lighted the fire under it, like it is lighted under a pot. Thinking to the fact told by the Samguk yusa, he identifies the rock in question with the kama pawi of Kudŭrae and put in relation the name of the village with the word kudŭl (“warm stone”). With further geographical considerations he concludes that, to go from the royal palace to the temple of Wanghŭng, the most smooth and simple path was that which passed through Kudŭrae, and this is the reason why the characters engraved on the rock which is on the other side of the river must have been engraved by mistake. This last part of the writing by Hong Sa-jun agrees with what is asserted also by some elderly people of the village, who anyhow say that the rock in question would be a half-submerged rock (on which even today could stay about ten persons) now used by the women of the place to do the washing and called, because of the destination for which is used, ppalle pawi, or “rock of the laundry”.

The name of the village, therefore, would derive from the word kudŭl  “warm stone”, which goes back to a MK ku.dɨl(h) of the 15th century, and seems to derive from the root kup-, “to cook, to roast”, and from :tol(h), “stone”, perhaps with the original meaning of “stone for cooking” (?).
[page 45 of the original]
Kudŭl is the term now used for the stones which constitute the ondol, the warmed floor of the Korean houses. From the name of that famous rock would have come the name of the landing place, now formed by no more than about ten huts. The Japanese, which had relations with Paekche just by sea (and willingly made alliances with this state against the nearer Silla) 212, in order to reach the capital city Sabi (present-day Puyŏ) sailed the river Kŭm up to the landing place we are speaking about, which was the only one convenient to reach the capital 213. According to this theory the first Japanese must have kept in mind the name of the landing place, idenfifying it with the name of the capital and therefore with the name of the country.

As regards kudŭl, the addition of a final vowel in the name Kudara is not difficult to explain 214 and refers to the current of Korean loans that in Japanese underwent the addition of a vowel or the loss of a final consonant for phonetic reasons (cf. for instance the Korean kom “bear”, Japanese kuma id.; Korean narah “country”, Japanese Nara, name of the capital city of the period with the same name). The final -a would anyhow be more consistent with an ancient pronounciation *kudɑl, because it is more logical that the vowel added after the last consonant were homologouos of the last original vowel of the Korean word. This problem, anyhow, is easily solved because we know that the character (tal) in ancient Korean did transcribe also the meaning of “stone” 215.

Is it possible that Kudŭrae be linked to the name Kudara? The fact that still today there is a place called Chaondae, and the story of the warm rock mentioned in the Samguk yusa seem to confirm the thesis that the name Kudara be in relation with this legend. Anyhow, it is also possible that what is said in the Samguk yusa (let's remember that this text was published around the year 1285) be, as a matter of fact, a legend risen later, after the passing of Paekche, because of the name of the village (derived from some other etymon) and to its similarity with the name kudŭl “warm stone”.
[page 46 of the original]
But, if the name Kudara really had this origin bound to a name risen in the last years of the life of Paekche 216, what could have been then the previous name? And why, at a certain point, the Japanese did decide to call the state of Paekche, that they kew since three hundred years, with another name? These questions, of course, remain without an answer and let us understand that also this theory about the origin of the name of the state, bound to such a legendary fact, must be rejected.

An hypothesis striclty linked to that just seen puts Kudara in relation with the name of the rock kama pawi just considered. This opinion, gathered on the scene by the writer, says that, when the Japanese came to this place, they went fishing on this turtle shaped rock, which is downstream Nakhwa-am 落花岩 and, since in Japanese the word “turtle” is kame, from that derived the Korean name of the rock, kama pawi (“kame rock” or “turtle rock”), and later, from the pronounciation ku of the character “turtle”, the name of the country (ku plus *tɑl [> tol “stone”] equals kudɑl  “rock of the turtle”, from which derives Kudara). This hypothesis seems absolutely imaginary. It is certainly one of the various legends arisen around the ancient kingdom of Paekche, if it is not even a sheer creation of the informant. The word kudɑl  formed in this way is a Sino-Korean compound like ondol 217 (on ), an absolutely regular compound from the linguistical point of view. However, the naivety of the explanation lets us perplexed.

Another hypothesis with an absolutely imaginary character was picked up by the writer near Kudŭrae. This story tells that Wang In 王仁 (the Paekche’s scholar which first brought the Chinese writing to Japan) was a monk of the Wanghŭng temple (whose construction began in the 2nd year of the king Pŏp , 600 A.D., and ended in the 35th year of the king Mu , 634 A.D.).
[page 47 of the original]
So, Wang In, when he was a monk of the Wanghŭng temple, as a result of a plot by some of his enemies, was sentenced to death by poison. To avoid the sentence, he sneaked away from Kudŭrae on a boat and, having reached Japan, afraid that the Japanese realized that he came from Paekche and sent him back, told them that he came from Kudŭrae. From this episode came the name Kudara. This absolutely legendary tale however demostrates how much interest excites, even among the common people, the fact that the state of Paekche in Japanese is called Kudara.

3-b) Kudara was the name of a place of the territory of another Korean state.

Ayugai Fusanoshin 218 says that the Samguk sagi in the geographic section 219 mentions the name Kŏt’a 陁, which stands for Kŏt’aya . From this, for the identity between ya and ra , would have derived Kudara. Karlgren for the two characters reconstructs the following pronounciations: 49c' ki̯wo (*ki̯o), 陁 is not there, but for a similar form under 4f’ we find t'â (*t'â). From this we can reconstruct a Silla pronounciation Kot'a or Kjot'a 220. The name is listed among the place-names of Silla and it seems very improbable that Yamato could mistake the name of Paekche, with which from the beginning established bonds of friendship 221, for that of a place of Silla, with which it was practically always at war.

3-c-α) Kudara was the name of a place of Japan inhabited by Korean emigrants.

Ōtsuki Fumihiko 222 says that the Wamyōshō 倭名抄, a Japanese work of the middle of the 10th century 223, mentions a Japanese place-name which is very similar to Kudara, that is 久太良 224.
[page 48 of the original]
The Korean pronounciation of the name is Kut'aeryang, while Karlgren reconstructs for those characters the ancient Chinese pronounciation: 993a ki̯ə̯u: (*ki̯ŭg), 317d t'âi- (*t'âd), 735a li̯ang (*li̯ang). Keeping in mind the Japanese pronounciation, which can be Kyūtairyō, we can obtain an ancient form *Kjut’airjaŋ, which really does not approach Kudara more than the various names we have analized until now.

Actually, among the Japanese place-names of the areas to which the Koreans emigrated both during the life of Paekche, and at the moment of its fall, there are many referring to Kudara. Papinot 225 cites Kudara-gōri, Kudara-mura, Kudara-gawa, Kudara-dera, etc., all situated at Settsu 攝津. To these we can add others, like Kudara-no, Kudara-no-ike, Kudara-no-hara, etc., all having the first part of the name written with the characters 百濟. This does not solve the problem because, if the name was brought to Japan by Korean emigrants, it certainly was the name of their state of origin, and at Paekche and not at Settsu we have to look in order to try to solve the enigma of the etymology of this name.

3-c-β) Kudara was a place-name of an area of Japan not inhabited by Korean emigrants.

No hypotheses.

Hypotheses on Kudara (5)


  1. Cf. Taedong yŏjido, ed. Han'guk sahakhoe 韓國史學會, Seoul 1965, sheet 16.
  2. Cf. Kim Sŏk-hyŏng, Kodai Chō-nichi..., cit., p. 278.
  3. Kim Sŏk-hyŏng (Kodai Chō-nichi..., cit., p. 278) calls it Kudorye or Kudurye and says that the name now has been forgotten on the place. This does not correspond to the truth and was established personally by the writer, who went to Kudŭrae in the summer of 1970.
  4. King Mu reigned from 600 to 640 A.D., king Ŭija from 641 to 660.
  5. Cf. Ch' oe Sang-su, Puyŏ-ŭi kojŏk-kwa chŏnsŏl 扶餘의 古蹟과 傳說, Seoul 1954, p. 25.
  6. The Samguk yusa, compiled by the buddhist prelate Iryŏn 一然 (1206-1289), is a collection of stories and popular tales, legends, myths, origins of place-names, religious materials etc., cited from ancient sources and from contemporaneous works, where it is difficult to separate the historical narration from the fantastic tales (cf. Han’guk-ŭi myŏngjŏ 韓國의 名著, Hyŏnamsa 玄岩社 ed., Seoul 1970, p. 138-154).
  7. Let's remember that the last capital of Paekche was Sabi 泗沘, from which, due to a transcription mistake of the last character, came Saja 泗泚.
  8. Cf. Samguk yusa, cit. ed., p. 98: 又泗泚崖又有一石。 坐十餘人。 百濟王欲幸王興寺禮佛。 先於此石望拜佛。 其石自煖 因名石。
  9. Cf. Hong Sa-jun, Paekche-ŭi chŏnsŏl 百濟의 傳說, Seoul 1954, p. 18-20.
  10. According to what the Chosŏn wangjo sillok 朝鮮王朝實錄 says (Sejong sillok 世宗實錄, kwŏn 149, 18a, lines 8-9) still at the time of king Sejong 世宗 (r. 1418-1450) it was possible to admire a rock, not far from the Nakhwa cliff, on which more than ten person could stay and whose name was Chaondae: 自落花臺順流而西有一怪巖跨于水渚可生十餘人諺傳昔百濟王遊于此巖則巖自溫故名曰自溫臺. It is unquestionable that the Tolsŏk of the Samguk yusa coincides with the Chaondae of the Chosŏn wangjo sillok.
  11. About this fact, cf. V. Anselmo, Fonti coreane sul Giappone protostorico, in «Giappone», 10, 1970.
  12. The passage cited in the note 188 lets us guess that, to go from Paekche to Japan, it was preferable to use the harbour of Tasa under the control of Kara (presumably situated in the southern coast in a place between the present-day provinces of Chŏlla-namdo and Kyŏngsang-namdo) going first along a long way by land, rather than to set out on a dangerous voyage starting from one of the harbours of Paekche situated on the western coast. From this we could infer that the Japanese too, in order to reach the capital of Paekche, would usually make use of this or of other shouthern harbours, rather than sailing up the river Kŭm.
  13. The transformation from the final sound l to r is explained with the diversity of the consonantal system of the Japanese in regards to the Korean one.
  14. Cf. Chewang un'gi, ha , Hu Koryŏ 後高麗 : 興敎寺。 古之善達寺也。 或云浮石寺、 以國史爲定。
  15. At this point, however, it will necessary to put at least a question. Is it possible that the name Kudara was kept for such a long time, after the introduction of the Chinese culture, without being recorded in Chinese characters never in any place? Thinking over the fact that Sabi was the capital of Paekche just from the 538 onwards and that the Chinese writing was introduced in Paekche in the year 374 or before, the answer seems to be negative. Saying that Kudŭrae is linked to the name of the capital city and to that of Paekche would mean to say that, in spite of the 百濟 characters, the state was still called *Kudɑra, or something similar, at the time when the capital was transferred in the place of the present-day Puyŏ, and would also mean that the capital city itself had this name before (or at the same time as) that of Sabi. The name should have been left only to the village when this one parted from the capital and the capital took the name Sabi, or later when Sabi changed its name in that of Puyŏ. All this, besides not being absolutely proved historically, is also rather improbable.
  16. The ondol is the floor, heated by warm air, of the Korean houses.
  17. Mentioned in the NS, Iwa, in the note 10 at p. 613 of the 1st vol. Cf. also Kokushi jiten 國史辭典, ed. Fuzanbō 富山房, Tōkyō 1942, p. 421 of the 3rd vol.
  18. Cf. Samguk sagi, kwŏn 34 (Silla), cit. ed., p. 538.
  19. About the reading of the characters of the place-names of Silla, cf. Yi Sung-nyŏng, Silla sidae-ŭi p’yogipŏp ch’egye-e kwanhan siron 新羅 時代의 表記法 體系에 關한 試論, in «Sŏul taehakkyo nonmunchip», 2, 1955, p. 62-166. For the pronounciation of the character cf. ibid., p. 84, where it is read .
  20. The first tribute going from Paekche to Japan is recorder in the Japanese chronicles as coming from king Ch'ogo 肖古 (=Kŭnch’ogo) (cf. NS, Iwa, K. 9, Jingū kōgō, 46th year of regency, p. 352), whereas in the Korean chronicles the first diplomatic mission from Paekche to Japan is recorded in the 5th month of the 6th year of Asin 阿莘 (397 A.D.) (cf. Samguk sagi, p. 423 of the cit. ed.).
  21. Cf. Ōtsuki Fumihiko, Daigenkai, cit., p. 27
  22. Cf. R. A. Miller, The Japanese Language, Chicago - London 1967, p. 120-121.
  23. 攝津國百濟郡久太良
  24. Cf. E. Papinot, Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan, Tōkyō 1909, p. 318.

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© Valerio Anselmo