Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms(三国遗事)
Samgungnyusa is a history book written by Bogakguksa (All-Enlightened National Preceptor) Iryeon (1206-1289) in Goryeo, recording the history, culture, religion and folklore of ancient kingdoms from Gojoseon to Unified Silla.
The publication comprises nine chapters in five volumes: “Wangnyeok (Chronology of Monarchs)” records the kings of the Three Kingdoms and the related events; “Giyi (Records of Marvels)” records the founding of the kingdoms that came before Silla and Silla’s history in the first half, and in the second half the political events from the reign of King Munmu to Late Baekje; “Heungbeop (Raising of the Dharma)” accounts the introduction of Buddhism to Silla and its acceptance and transmission; “Tapsang (Stupas and Images)” narrates the history surrounding the stupas, temples and sarira, the symbols of Buddhism; “Uihae (Exegetes)” discusses the lives of eminent monks of Silla; “Sinju (Supernatural Spells)” depicts the miracles of Esoteric Buddhism; “Gamtong (Bodhisattvas’ Responses to Sentient Beings)” narrates the divine spiritual experiences related to Buddhism; “Pieun (Hermits’ Lives)” depicts the lives of monks who have left the secular world for seclusion; and “Hyoseon (Filial Piety)” discusses Buddhist good deeds, centering on filial piety.
Ths book’s structure, arranged by topic, is a departure from the chronological narrative of history books, which allowed for the inclusion of a wide variety of folk narratives. As seen in the term “yusa, ” meaning “overlooked events, ” the book does not emphasize legitimacy or authenticity, citing many mythological accounts of wondrous events. At the same time, the book offers wide- ranged bibliographical citations, underlining the accountability of its contents. The book’s biggest significance lies in its importance as a literary text that offers a vivid portrayal of human lives, traversing history and literature, transcendence and everyday life, truth and fiction.