Sources on Balhae (Bohai)

Aug 2015
870
wish it was Constantinople
#1
I've been conducting alot of research about the life of Dae joyoung and the state of Balhae, does anyone have some primary, secondary and scholarly sources they could recommend for further research? thank you!
 

Haakbus

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Aug 2013
3,767
United States
#2
I've been conducting alot of research about the life of Dae joyoung and the state of Balhae, does anyone have some primary, secondary and scholarly sources they could recommend for further research? thank you!
Sadly they left no records so we don't know a whole lot about them, just what was written by other people and from archaeology. I don't even know if there are English secondary sources dedicated to it. Here are a few links in the Wikipedia references section of the article on Parhae:
Shangjing Longquanfu: The Capital of the Bohai (Parhae) State
www.hgeo.h.kyoto-u.ac.jp/ogata/Bohai/summary-E.html
www.oriens-extremus.de/inhalt/pdf/47/OE47-13.pdf
 

Haakbus

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Aug 2013
3,767
United States
#3
Archaeologically Parhae was a mix of Koguryo, Tang, and local Mohe traditions. I think the Koguryo language probably maintained a high status at least among the elites of the kingdom for several generations, though it eventually died out in favor of the Mohe language(s).
 
Sep 2012
1,104
Taiwan
#4
The vast majority of secondary literature on Parhae is in Russian and Korean, with a substantial amount also in Chinese and Japanese. Primary sources are nearly all in Classical Chinese (or variants thereof). The only two scholars in recent times to really publish in English have been Jesse Sloane and Alexander Kim, and both are largely concerned with mapping historiographical trends. Pamela Crossley and Alexander Vovin have touched on it briefly too. Some Korean scholarship has been translated into English, notably John Duncan's volume.

If you read Chinese or Russian, I would be happy to recommend some more specific sources (my Japanese and Korean are too limited at the moment, sadly), although you won't get very far with English alone unfortunately. I'm writing my thesis on Parhae at the moment though, so I would be happy to answer any questions if I am able.

Sadly they left no records so we don't know a whole lot about them, just what was written by other people and from archaeology.
Whilst they have no extant official state records, that isn't to say we don't have any surviving writings and literature from Parhae peoples. We have (arguably) the Honglujing Stele, Jeongyo's epitaph, fragments of an as yet largely undeciphered Parhae script, and most notably a series of poems by Parhae diplomats collected in the Japanese kanshi anthologies. There are probably some others that I'm missing as well.
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,767
United States
#5
The vast majority of secondary literature on Parhae is in Russian and Korean, with a substantial amount also in Chinese and Japanese. Primary sources are nearly all in Classical Chinese (or variants thereof). The only two scholars in recent times to really publish in English have been Jesse Sloane and Alexander Kim, and both are largely concerned with mapping historiographical trends. Pamela Crossley and Alexander Vovin have touched on it briefly too. Some Korean scholarship has been translated into English, notably John Duncan's volume.

If you read Chinese or Russian, I would be happy to recommend some more specific sources (my Japanese and Korean are too limited at the moment, sadly), although you won't get very far with English alone unfortunately. I'm writing my thesis on Parhae at the moment though, so I would be happy to answer any questions if I am able.



Whilst they have no extant official state records, that isn't to say we don't have any surviving writings and literature from Parhae peoples. We have (arguably) the Honglujing Stele, Jeongyo's epitaph, fragments of an as yet largely undeciphered Parhae script, and most notably a series of poems by Parhae diplomats collected in the Japanese kanshi anthologies. There are probably some others that I'm missing as well.
Hey haven't seen you around in a long time.

So what language does the Bohai script represent, if we even know?
 
Sep 2012
1,104
Taiwan
#6
Hey haven't seen you around in a long time.

So what language does the Bohai script represent, if we even know?
Aloha! Yes, I've been swallowed up by the nightmare that is academia, time flies by these days.

The Parhae script we have seems to be a variation of Classical Chinese, but with a few irregular characters. Vovin thinks that it is a form of proto-Jurchen, but I don't find his arguments entirely convincing; what he sees as Jurchen characters in the script may just be corruptions of Chinese ones, and some of his attempts to justify the connections are a bit of a stretch. If we had evidence of the script in use between 926 and 1115, or a larger sample of evidence, I'd be more inclined to accept his hypothesis. I may revise this opinion as my own research continues, as part of my work involves looking at just how integrated the Jurchens were in Parhae.

As to what spoken language, if any, the script corresponds to, I'm not entirely sure. Presumably a form of Old Korean, but it may be a form of Tungusic, or indeed simply just Chinese. No way to know for sure at the moment.
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,767
United States
#7
Aloha! Yes, I've been swallowed up by the nightmare that is academia, time flies by these days.

The Parhae script we have seems to be a variation of Classical Chinese, but with a few irregular characters. Vovin thinks that it is a form of proto-Jurchen, but I don't find his arguments entirely convincing; what he sees as Jurchen characters in the script may just be corruptions of Chinese ones, and some of his attempts to justify the connections are a bit of a stretch. If we had evidence of the script in use between 926 and 1115, or a larger sample of evidence, I'd be more inclined to accept his hypothesis. I may revise this opinion as my own research continues, as part of my work involves looking at just how integrated the Jurchens were in Parhae.

As to what spoken language, if any, the script corresponds to, I'm not entirely sure. Presumably a form of Old Korean, but it may be a form of Tungusic, or indeed simply just Chinese. No way to know for sure at the moment.
Yeah Vovin's research varies a lot in quality. I get the impression some of it is just thoughts he publishes without much peer review or whatever.


So what's your view on the cultural/linguistic makeup of Parhae?

I haven't done a whole lot of research but I tend to see it as a mix of Koreanic (Koguryo) and Tungusic, with the Koreanic language disappearing over time but probably maintaining a prestige status for awhile.
 
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Sep 2012
1,104
Taiwan
#8
Language isn't strictly my area, but I'm inclined to agree with you - at least in terms of there being a mix of Koreanic and Tungusic. I can't speak for the disappearance of Koreanic dialects over time, what evidence do you have for that? I'd be interested to know. Chinese has to have been a prominent court language though, given how many Parhae officials studied in China, and the prevalence of Chinese script in extant inscriptions and texts. We of course could say that they adapted Chinese script to their native language(s) without actually speaking Chinese, but given their cross-cultural interactions, aswell as references in Tang records to a (presumably) native script, it seems more likely to me that spoken Chinese accompanied the script at least to some degree. From what I've seen, there also isn't the same kind of linguistic variation in Parhae Classical Chinese as in Korean or Japanese forms, although I haven't gone over all the material yet.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,767
United States
#9
Language isn't strictly my area, but I'm inclined to agree with you - at least in terms of there being a mix of Koreanic and Tungusic. I can't speak for the disappearance of Koreanic dialects over time, what evidence do you have for that? I'd be interested to know. Chinese has to have been a prominent court language though, given how many Parhae officials studied in China, and the prevalence of Chinese script in extant inscriptions and texts. We of course could say that they adapted Chinese script to their native language(s) without actually speaking Chinese, but given their cross-cultural interactions, aswell as references in Tang records to a (presumably) native script, it seems more likely to me that spoken Chinese accompanied the script at least to some degree. From what I've seen, there also isn't the same kind of linguistic variation in Parhae Classical Chinese as in Korean or Japanese forms, although I haven't gone over all the material yet.
Educated guess really. Koreanic died out in southern Manchuria and I just speculated that this must have at least started during the Parhae period since it doesn't appear to have been a strictly Koreanic-speaking polity. I'm certainly open to any evidence either way regarding the matter.
 
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Sep 2012
1,104
Taiwan
#10
Well there were a number of successor states to Parhae in the tenth and eleventh centuries, which the Khitan continually fought against. And 'Bohai' is still recognised as a distinct ethno-cultural group throughout the Jin and Yuan dynasties, which shows they still had yet to Sinicize or Jurchenize by the fourteenth century. This would indicate to me that they may very well have still spoken a native language. Given that the surnames of Bohai peoples in this period often show descent from Koguryo groups (mainly the Da clan), we could well suppose that they still spoke a form of Koreanic. However, with the rise of the Jurchens in the eleventh century, it's likely that Tungusic became the Manchurian lingua franca in this period. Whether this process began prior to 926 though, I'm not sure. There's some Chinese scholarship that discusses (in part) Parhae language that I'm trying to track down, so I will let you know if I find anything further - although, like most aspects of Parhae history, language is a hotly contested issue still, so there isn't much consensus anyways.