Valerio Anselmo
A research on the name Kudara
(published in 1974)
Several hypotheses on Kudara (4)

Hypotheses on Kudara (3)

Hypotheses on Kudara (5)

Several hypotheses on Kudara (part four)

[page 33 of the original (cont.)]
The names of the two fortresses, Mich'u and Wirye, could be considered, in the light of these facts, as names of mythical capitals. However, one of these two names, that of Wirye, appears also in the Nihon Shoki  158 and it seems to be the less mythical of the two, being perhaps possible to link it to the MK ulh “enclosure”. This connection Wirye-ulh would leave open the problem of the contemporaneous presence of two words of evident common derivation, ulh and xol, one at first sight more ancient and the other apparently more recent, in which, besides the difference in the vowel, leaps before the eyes the presence in the second one (and the absence in the other) of the initial fricative x 159.

The first name of a capital city that has some appearance of historical authenticity is Hansan 160.
[page 34 of the original]
Imanishi Ryū 今西龍 and Tsuda Saukichi 津田左右吉 161 say that Wirye was perhaps the original name of Hansan prior to the introduction of the Chinese culture, which happened at the time of king Kŭnch’ogo. Hansan was the capital of Paekche up to the year 475 A.D. when the troups of Koguryŏ conquered it, occupying all the basin of the river Han, on whose lower course it was situated. Besides the names we already remembered of Hansan, Hansŏng, Pulhansansŏng and Namhansansŏng, we must also consider the names of Hanhol 漢忽, Siksŏng 息城 and Naehol 乃忽, which appear connected with the name of Hansan in the kwŏn 37 of the Samguk sagi 162. The name Hansan seems furthermore linked with that of Han'gang 漢江, the river near whom was the capital. According to some linguists, Han'gang could have had the meaning of “big river” or “main river”; the etymology of han, however, is not completely clear 163.

The problem that occurs in the analysis of these ancient names is twofold: on one hand we don' t know which was in Paekche the pronounciation of the characters we are examining, on the other, even if we could be sure of the Paekche's pronounciation of the examined Chinese character, we would not know exactly which group of phonemes of the language of Paekche it was transcribing. The example of xol (but Karlgren 503l χuət ) used in the language of Koguryŏ to transcribe the sound of a word which had the meaning of “castle, fortress” clearly illustrates the problem. Probably the two pronounciations (the one that the character did get in Paekche and the other of the local term it was transcribing) did coincide. In the uncertainty we cannot do else than consider the ancient Chinese pronounciations, the Korean pronounciations of the 15th century and the Japanese ones, and from those data try to decide which was the true value of the pronounciation of a character in Paekche.

[page 35 of the original]
Let's, therefore, reconstruct the ancient Chinese pronounciation of the first name, Hansan. Karlgren gives us: 144c χân (*χân), 193a şăn (*săn). Supposing that the differences due to the local pronounciations (Silla-Paekche) of the Chinese characters were not too marked, we could think that the vowel of , which in the reconstruction is equal to that of 164. was of the same type of the vowel of this latter character, employed to transcribe a title of the king in the language of Silla 165. On the other hand the title pronounced hân or kân in the language of Silla corresponded to a title pronounced kiɒn in that of Paekche 166. What will be the relation between and ? Will we be able to admit that this character transcribed a word of Paekche with the meaning of “king” or “unique”? Or must we follow the widespread opinion that transcribed on the contrary the pronounciation of a word with the meaning of “great, big”? Concerning the initial k- in the pronounciation of this character, we find it in the Japanese reading kan, but up to what point is this in relation with the pronounciation of the character in the language of Paekche? We can tentatively reconstruct for the pronounciation *kân in the language of Paekche, without making clear, however, than one part of the mistery. At this point it would not even be out of place to think that Hansan was the transcription or the translation of a place-name originally in Mahan language. Anyhow, given as an hypothesis that the word transcribed by in the name Hansan were in semantic relation with that transcribed by in the name 鞬吉支 of the Chou-shu, we would be authorized to think that the meaning of Hansan was “the main (or unique) mountain” or “the mountain of the king”. From the parallel of the various names 漢山, 漢城, 漢忽 we then obtain that the meaning of san was also “fortress” (城, 忽) 167. from which we can deduct for Hansan the meaning of “fortress of the king”. If the procedure followed until now is correct, this would constitute a good parallel with the name Paekche 百濟 which, as we said before, could mean, precisely, “the fortress of the king” (pɑlktsas). Variants of the name are Pukhansansŏng 北漢山城 and Namhansansŏng 南漢山城, namely the names that the capital took moving from the north to the south of the Han river.
[page 36 of the original]
For Pukhansansŏng, which is in the present-day Koyang’gun 高陽郡, survives a legend according which the founders of Paekche, Piryu and Onjo, would have climbed there in order to decide where to build the capital city 168. Concerning the other place, it is said that the wall, whose remnants are seen at Namhansansŏng, a mountain in Kwangjugun 廣州郡, were built on the original wall of the Wirye fortress 169.

The other two names of the capital, Siksŏng and Naehol, do not bring any contribution to the clearing up of this point.

“Mountain” in Koguryŏ language was tal, a word generally transcribed with the character 170. If the relation between and supposed before is correct, then we can reconstruct a pronounciation *kʌndal (漢達) or *kjʌndal (鞬達) for 漢山, from which perhaps, with the drop of the -n- and with the addition of the final -a, we could arrive to the name Kudara. This thing, anyhow, is so uncertain that we could be tempted to discard this hypothesis, if not for the fact that, really, for many of these countries (and the example of Silla is perhaps the most evident) the name of the state did coincide with that of the capital city. It remains anyhow to be solved the problem given by the Japanese reading of 漢山 and 漢城 which never is Kudara.

As a following hypothesis we should consider also the names Hansan, Hansŏng etc., as translations of terms in southern language. But, since it seems that we can arrive to the name Kudara from Hansan just through a reconstruction where the second part of the word be read in a way similar to *tal (language of Koguryŏ) and not mojh (for “mountain” in language of Silla), we abandon any attempt to reconstruct the word in this way.

The name Hansan could mean, on the contrary “big mountain” 171 and be in close relation with the name Han'gang, to which we already pointed. This interpretation, at a first glance very much logical, cannot by now be proved than by resorting to forms of the language of Silla, and this we said not to be of any utility in the research of the etymology of the name Kudara.

Hypotheses on Kudara (3)

Hypotheses on Kudara (5)

  1. Cf. NS, Iwa, Yūryaku tennō, 20th year, winter, p. 496 of the 1st volume. In this case Wirye is however given as a name of the capital city Hansan. Does this mean that up to the end the true name of Hansan was Wirye and that the two characters 漢山 were really read in that way? Maruyama Rimpei, Jōdaigo..., cit., p. 397, gives for the characters 慰禮 cited by the Nihon shoki in this passage the reading Kudara, letting us understand that Wirye was at that time not the name of the capital, but the name of the state. Ayugai Fusanoshin, Zakkō Nihon shoki..., cit., p. 227, points out that the San-kuo-chih among the 54 small states of Mahan reports the name of Wei-li-kuo 尉禮國 which, given the strong similarity of the characters, could perhaps be identified with the first settlement of Paekche 百濟 (Wiryesŏng), still distinct form the small state of Paekche 伯濟.
  2. Or else, more opportunely, Wirye can be connected to *pɨl, which we have seen meaning “village, town”, through the process *pɨl > *bɨl > *βɨl > wil. Here too arises the problem of the contemporaneous presence in the language of Paekche of wil and puri (夫里), two different developments coming both from the same root; this contrast however can be solved thinking that wil < *pɨl could be native of the language of the founders, while the puri of the place-names could be native of the language of the popular Mahan substratum. This explanation Wirye < Wil- connects to what was said by Yang Chu-dong concerning the name Sipche < Jəl-tsas. The language of Paekche, because of all these facts (drop of the intervocalic -k-, palatalization of the -t-, palatalization of the *q, loss of the initial occlusive *p > , this latter with the examples of Wolaγa and Wirye), seems to present an evolutionary course more advanced than that of the languages of the neighbouring nations, particularly than that of the language of Silla. The material of the language of Paekche is not abundant, but if studied in the right way can still reserve other surprises in the future.
  3. Cf. Gardiner, The Early History..., cit., p. 45
  4. Quoted by Murayama Masao 村山正雄 in Ajia rekishi jiten アジア歷史事典, ed. Heibonsha 平凡社, Tōkyō 1959, 2nd vol., p. 285.
  5. Cf. Samguk sagi, kwŏn 37, p. 578 of the cit. ed.: 漢山郡一云漢忽一云息城一云乃忽.
  6. In the Nihon shoki Hansan is called once also konisashi, a name written with the characters 大城 (cf. NS, Iwa, K. 14, Yūryaku tennō, winter of the 20th year, p. 496 of the 1st vol.). This name should make us incline towards the cited theory, according to which meant “big, great” (漢城 = 大城). We must anyhow notice that also in other places the capital city (this time Sabi) is called konisashi, but that in this case the employed characters are no more 大城, but 王城 (cf. NS, Iwa, K. 26, Saimei tennō, 9th month of the 6th year, p. 345 of the 2nd vol.). Pak Si-in (Alt'ai..., cit. p. 35) makes us aware of the fact that the characters 汗 • 干 • 漢 • 韓 used to transcribe many people-names or place-names are in relation with the Mongolian qan “king”. In particular he quotes a passage of the Shih-ching 時經 where is mentioned a hymn which speaks of a “castle of the Qan” 韓城, a name that connects with 漢城. Karlgren: 140i γân (*g'ân), 144c χân (*χân).
  7. Cf. Karlgren, Grammata..., cit., 140f γân.
  8. Cf. Yi Ki-mun, Koguryŏ-ŭi ŏnŏ-wa kŭ t’ŭkching 高句麗의 言語와 그 特徵 in «Paeksan hakpo», 4, Seoul 1968, p. 120.
  9. Cf. Anselmo, Armonia..., cit.
  10. Between Silla on one hand and the founders of Koguryŏ on the other there was perhaps also a difference in the way of life and in the way of building the towns. To the south, being a mainly rural population, the town was built on the plain, and to the word pointing to “plain” seems to be traced back the term *pɨl (or *pəl) of the southern place-names (see the note 133). To the north the territory is more mountainous and perhaps the inhabitants devoted themselves more to hunting; the fortress was built on a mountain for defense reasons, and from here comes the identification of the word “fortress” (, called ) with “mountain” (, called ). (Cf. W. E. Henthorn, A History of Korea, New York 1971, p. 10, 24, 26).
  11. Cf. Kwan'gwang Han'guk 觀光韓國, published by the Taehan kwan’gwang hyŏphoe chunganghoe 大韓觀光協會中央會, Seoul 1968, p. 671.
  12. Cf. Kwan'gwang Han'guk, cit. ed., p. 672.
  13. Karlgren: 271b d'ât (*d'ât); Japanese pronounciation: tatsu.
  14. On the Kwang'gaet'o stone there is the expression 大山韓城, referred to a fortress of Paekche, which could let us think of an interpretation of this kind (cf. Szczesniak, The Kŏtaiŏ Monument..., cit., p. 257 and 261: transcribed Dai-san-kan).

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© Valerio Anselmo