Queen Seondeok(善德女王)

Queen Seondeok

Headword

선덕여왕 ( 善德女王 , Seondeogyeowang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer SongHyosub(宋孝燮)

The legend “Seondeogyeowang”narrates the story of Deok-man, who, possessing outstanding traits as a woman and a ruler, became the 27th monarch and the first queen of Silla. Tales related to Queen Seondeok can be divided into two types: The peony tale, which depicts the qualities that made her queen; and the Jigwi tale, depicting her outstanding womanly traits. The former is recorded in the chapter “Gii (Records of Marvels)” in Samgungnyusa, while the latter, in varying versions, in books including Taepyeongtongjae (Comprehensive Collection of Taepyeong).

Deok-man, daughter of King Jinpyeong, was the 27th ruler of Silla, given the title Seondeogyeowang (Queen Seondeok) upon taking the throne in the year Imjin, the 6th year of the Zhenguan (632) era, and ruling for sixteen years. During her reign, she demonstrated her abilities as ruler on three occasions: First, when Emperor Taizong of Tang China sent a painting of three peony blossoms, in red, violet and white, along with three doe of seeds, Queen Seondeok realized beforehand that the flower did not carry a scent; second, when a mass of frogs croaked for three days at the pond Ongmunji (Jade Gate Pond) on the grounds of Yeongmyo Temple, the queen deduced that troops were hiding in Yeogeungok (Female Roots Valley) in the southern outskirts, and attacked, killing them all; and third, she was able to predict the exact date and year of her own death, and ordered that she be buried in the Buddhist heaven of Doricheon (Trāyastrimśa). These anecdotes form the peony tale type narratives. The Jigwi tales feature a man of Silla named Jigwi, who is enchanted by Queen Seondeok’s beauty and longs for the day when he will finally meet her. Upon hearing about Jigwi, the queen goes to Yeongmyo Temple to meet him, but Jigwi falls into a deep sleep under the temple’s pagoda and misses her. Jigwi becomes aggrieved by, and angry about, this and sets himself on fire, turning into a fire ghost (hwagwi).

The Queen Seondeok legends reflect two different desires related to the kingdom’s first queen—the expectations that people of the time had for her as a queen, and those for her as a woman. The fact that there are myriad variations of the tales about her abilities as a ruler reflects the complicated view at the time of a queen’s position and ability.

The legends focus on the queen’s abilities to interprete signs, which brings light to the communication modes at the time, of signs and symbols, a trait that is observed more clearly than other narratives included in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms).

Queen Seondeok

Queen Seondeok
Headword

선덕여왕 ( 善德女王 , Seondeogyeowang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer SongHyosub(宋孝燮)

The legend “Seondeogyeowang”narrates the story of Deok-man, who, possessing outstanding traits as a woman and a ruler, became the 27th monarch and the first queen of Silla. Tales related to Queen Seondeok can be divided into two types: The peony tale, which depicts the qualities that made her queen; and the Jigwi tale, depicting her outstanding womanly traits. The former is recorded in the chapter “Gii (Records of Marvels)” in Samgungnyusa, while the latter, in varying versions, in books including Taepyeongtongjae (Comprehensive Collection of Taepyeong).

Deok-man, daughter of King Jinpyeong, was the 27th ruler of Silla, given the title Seondeogyeowang (Queen Seondeok) upon taking the throne in the year Imjin, the 6th year of the Zhenguan (632) era, and ruling for sixteen years. During her reign, she demonstrated her abilities as ruler on three occasions: First, when Emperor Taizong of Tang China sent a painting of three peony blossoms, in red, violet and white, along with three doe of seeds, Queen Seondeok realized beforehand that the flower did not carry a scent; second, when a mass of frogs croaked for three days at the pond Ongmunji (Jade Gate Pond) on the grounds of Yeongmyo Temple, the queen deduced that troops were hiding in Yeogeungok (Female Roots Valley) in the southern outskirts, and attacked, killing them all; and third, she was able to predict the exact date and year of her own death, and ordered that she be buried in the Buddhist heaven of Doricheon (Trāyastrimśa). These anecdotes form the peony tale type narratives. The Jigwi tales feature a man of Silla named Jigwi, who is enchanted by Queen Seondeok’s beauty and longs for the day when he will finally meet her. Upon hearing about Jigwi, the queen goes to Yeongmyo Temple to meet him, but Jigwi falls into a deep sleep under the temple’s pagoda and misses her. Jigwi becomes aggrieved by, and angry about, this and sets himself on fire, turning into a fire ghost (hwagwi).

The Queen Seondeok legends reflect two different desires related to the kingdom’s first queen—the expectations that people of the time had for her as a queen, and those for her as a woman. The fact that there are myriad variations of the tales about her abilities as a ruler reflects the complicated view at the time of a queen’s position and ability.

The legends focus on the queen’s abilities to interprete signs, which brings light to the communication modes at the time, of signs and symbols, a trait that is observed more clearly than other narratives included in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms).