Abstract

abstract:

Surviving inscriptions from the Korean kingdom of Paekche 百濟 (ca. c.e. 250–660) are extremely few in number. Recent archaeological discoveries have uncovered an unprecedented cache of Paekche writing in the form of wooden tablets, known as mokkan 木簡, dateable to the period when the kingdom's capital was at Sabi 泗沘 (c.e. 538–660). This article first looks at the distribution of mokkan finds within the Sabi capital and argues that mokkan were one material surface utilized in the context of a multi-faceted written culture that included other media such as paper and stone. This article proposes that because wood was a relatively cheap, reusable, and disposable medium, mokkan became the material surface of choice for the acquisition of literacy and experimentation with Sinographic script. This meant that mokkan were not only a space for learning individual characters (calligraphic practice), but also for practicing composing sentences according to the rules of Sinitic syntax and in established Sinitic literary forms (composition practice). As a result, mokkan offer a unique window into the development of literary writing among Paekche elites during the late sixth and early seventh centuries. This article explores four examples of Paekche mokkan containing inscriptions that fall into the category of "composition practice," and argues that these compositions suggest literary form was an increasingly valued component of inscriptive practice in Paekche.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-8283
Print ISSN
0066-8435
Pages
pp. 47-73
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-25
Open Access
No
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