starlady: (orihime)
[personal profile] starlady
I first heard about this oral epic Korean poem in my premodern Korea class last semester; our professor recounted the details of the ballad, which is first attested in the later Chosŏn period (i.e. 17thC), as an example of the incorporation of Buddhist and Daoist elements into commoner popular culture, which was much less neo-Confucian than aristocratic culture and thus allowed comparably expanded gender roles for women.

The epic is still performed today by mudang (shamans, often female) during funeral rites in South Korea. The excerpt that follows is from the translation that appears in Hyun-key Kim Hogarth's book Syncretism of Buddhism and Shamanism in Korea, working from contemporary transcriptions of the text; as far as I know, it's the only one of the few translations of this poem into English (for others, see [personal profile] thistleingrey's comment below).

The story goes that Princess Pari is the seventh daughter of the King and Queen of the realm, and that in rage at her not being a son her father the King orders her to be sacrificed to the West Sea Dragon King (a Daoist deity) immediately after her birth. But the infant Pari is saved by the Lord Buddha (Sakyamuni | Sŏkka) and brought up by a virtuous old couple as their daughter. But when Pari is fifteen both the King and the Queen fall ill and are told by a diviner that they will die on the same day unless they find their abandoned daughter, for their illness is a punishment for the King's sin. The Queen goes on a quest to find Pari and does so, who is brought back to her parents' palace in honor but finds that neither the King's scholar-officials (whose duty to the King is supposed to be like that of sons to fathers) nor her six older sisters (who say they are too clueless, since they've been raised to be proper court ladies) are willing to undertake the journey to the Netherworld to obtain the medicinal water that is guarded by Mujangsŭng.

Pari Kongju says:
"The obligation that I owe my parents
Stems from the nine months that I was inside my mother.
I will go."
She then asks for a warrior's costume
Made of silk and steel to disguise herself as a man,
and also a walking stick and shoes made of steel.
Alas, Pari Kongju!
When she puts her steel stick forward once,
She covers a thousand ri,
Twice, three or four thousand ri.
The time is early spring;
All the flowers are blooming;
The streams gently flow;
Birds are courting with sweet songs.
She comes across
Sŏkka Yŏae, Amit'abul, and Chijang-posal,
Playing games of paduk and changgi.
She prostrates herself twice in front of them.
Lord Sŏkka closes his eyes,
Amit'abul and Chijang-posal say to her:
"Are you a ghost or a human?
How have you entered the Heavenly Palace,
Where neither flying nor crawling animals can enter?"
"I am the seventh prince of the Chosŏn Kingdom.
I am on a filial mission for my parents.
Unfortunately I have lost my way.
Since it is thanks to Lord Buddha, lead me onto the correct path."
Lord Sŏkka then says:
"I have heard of the king's seventh daughter,
But never the seventh prince.
You may deceive the Heavens,
But you can never deceive me.
It was I who saved you
When you were abandoned as a baby in the western river.
The sin of telling a lie to Lord Buddha
Will make you fall into eighty-four thousand Hells.
You have covered three thousand ri, by road,
But there still remains three thousand ri
Of dangerous journey left.
How will you get there?"
"I will go, even if I die a worthless death
Like a dog on the way."
"Your devotion will even move Heaven.
I am so moved by your words, I will lead you on the correct path.
Have you brought flowers?"
"I left in such a hurry I forgot."
The Buddha Emperor Sŏkka then gives her
Three branches of flowers and a golden bell.
"If you take this golden bell,
Rough waters will become land;
The land will become smooth;
The great seas will become streams."
Pari Kongju receives them with both hands,
And bids Him farewell.


In the remainder of the poem, Pari passes through eighty-four thousand Hells and meets Mujangsŭng, for whom she chops wood and carries water for nine years before bearing him sevens sons, all for the sake of filial piety. When Pari returns to the realm with Mujangsŭng and her sons ("one body has become nine", the poem observes), she finds that her parents have died that very day, but one drop of the medicinal waters of life in their throats revives them. Pari's sons become the Ten Kings of the Netherworld, her adoptive parents become the door-wardens of the Netherworld, and she herself becomes a Boddhisattva who guides souls to the Netherworld, whence her epic being sung at funerals--obviously, she's something of a Kouric figure. She's also pretty kick-ass, and the epic itself is rather gently subversive of the neo-Confucian ethics of the aristocratic class: it's the filial piety of a woman who saves, not just her parents, but the King of the realm, with the help of Buddhist and Daoist deities.

Note: one ri = 393 meters.

has anyone fic'd Pari with Monkey?

Date: 2011-04-18 22:07 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Hello, epic poetry I've never heard of from a poetic tradition I know shockingly little about to the point of being unaware it had any epics at all and who I Need To Read All Of Now, it's good to meet you. Especially given you seem to be awesome with a cherry on top.

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-18 22:08 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
ETA:

one ri = 393 meters

So a different measure from the Chinese one with the same name circa Ming dynasty (which was closer to 500 m). Innnnnteresting.

Re: has anyone fic'd Pari with Monkey?

Date: 2011-04-18 23:07 (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
Thus I will piggy-back my comment here instead of replying directly to the post: I don't know Hogarth's book, but there are texts of Paridegi in Choi Won-oh's problematic Illustrated Guide to Korean Mythology (my scattered notes here) and Seo Dae-seok's Oral History of Korea (ed. the ubiquitous Peter H. Lee) as well as his Myths of Korea, also ed. PHL. I can't tell whether the several texts that overlap between the two Seo/Lee volumes are afterthought, since the two volumes also share a publisher and a series....

I am nearly certain that Paridegi appears also in Mu-ga: The Ritual Songs of the Korean Mudangs (Im Sok-jae, trans. Alan Heyman), which I own but cannot seem to scare up at the moment. Well, I was wrong, it's not. Cheseokbonpuri is the much-reproduced text that appears there....
Edited (self-correction as marked) Date: 2011-04-18 23:20 (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-18 23:53 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
*rubs hands*

Excellent. Do you particularly recommend any of the translations?

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-19 00:15 (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
Since I don't know the Korean texts (untranslated), I feel I can't! I still have Oral History of Korea out from the library; the passage corresponding to what starlady typed up is pp. 280-82 there, and the texts differ enough that it's clear they used different kut transcriptions as their respective bases. Instead of three branches of flowers and a bell, frex, in Seo's text it's one flower (with a footnote: gauze flower, nahwa, = Ficus glomerata, symbolizing the appearance of a buddha in the world).

It appears that Hogarth keeps the Buddhist names in their Korean guises, which is a good sign.

For extra credit: both of Hogarth's relevant books share a publisher, Jimoondang, with Seo+Lee's. I guess the editors at Jimoondang weren't concerned about overlapping content!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-19 14:35 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Noted.

Do you have a recommendation for a basic anthology of Korean poetry in translation? Doesn't necessarily have to have this, but something for getting an overview of the literary tradition.

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-23 05:34 (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
Sorry for the delay! Though it's not an overview of the poetic tradition as a whole, you may find Kevin O'Rourke's Book of Korean Shijo [sic] of interest. Sijo is a very different kind of thing from Paridegi, but it comes to mind because of your Kokinshu translation project.

Quite aside from the Jimoondang repetition issue upthread, I have learned to steer clear of Peter H. Lee when there are other options, partly because he's had such a big footprint upon the English-language part of the field and partly because I've read enough of his articles (half a dozen?) to be wary of his scholarly rigor. (When you are sort of the grandfather of a discipline in the U.S., you get away with stuff, even if you're capable of doing more than you have been.) Anyway, there is a Lee-edited anthology of poetry more broadly conceived, published by Columbia UP; here's a review of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-23 17:39 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Thanks. Both of those look interesting, even with the caveat about Lee's scholarship.

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-24 04:43 (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
I should add, to be fair, that I have no quibble with most of the contributors to the Lee-edited Columbia volume. It's only that I have little expectation that he did what an editor of such a volume ought to do in urging his colleagues' best work (etc.), as opposed to merely facilitating. Or perhaps I'm being unfair again.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-24 17:33 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
*nod*

Still, it's looking like an at least decent, and probably the best available, representative anthology of pre-modern Korean poetry, and based on what samples I've managed to scare up, the English is at least passable verse.

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-04 15:01 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Annnnnd the Lee-edited Columbia volume does indeed have "Abandoned Princess".

*settles in with a pot of tea*

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-04 15:28 (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
Oh good--if you have the time, I hope you post about it....

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-05 00:40 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
There's a good chance, through it may take me a couple weeks to digest. And will hardly be scholarly.

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-05 14:08 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Bah. Five pages in, and already I'm annoyed at the sloppy, sloppy writing in the supporting materials.

Also, fyi, it's largely the work of Peter Lee, with the other contributors being previously published translations of individual poems.

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-06 01:24 (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
Oh dear. Well, I hope the translations are readable, at least.

And re: scholarly-or-not posting, some care for content is far better than no post, IMO. If we had to stay silent till we'd worked up enough cred in a field to be able to post about it, . . . you can finish the sentence as well as I :)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-19 14:33 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
That's useful to know. Thanks.

---L.

Re: has anyone fic'd Pari with Monkey?

Date: 2011-04-19 01:17 (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
I'm just gonna tack a +1 onto this comment.

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