Chapter 5

Brilliant Are the Flowers: Empire, Civilization, and Sovereignty in Chosŏn-Ming Envoy Poetry, 1457--1592

Whether as a prince jockeying for power or as the ruler of Chosŏn, King Sejo exploited his relations with the Ming to achieve his own political goals. Utilitarian in in his use of power, Sejo repeatedly disregarded the sanctity of Ming authority as he augmented his own.1 Sejo also challenged imperial ritual prerogatives by performing heaven-worship rites that were, in theory, reserved only to the Ming emperor as the Son of Heaven.2 How should these actions be reconciled with his expressions of allegiance and his otherwise dutiful observance of the obligations of a "vassal king?" Were they mere instruments for dealing with the Ming? Sejo might have thought so, perceiving his ritual performances and rhetorical declarations as necessary expedients.

Without access to the workings of Sejo's mind, ascertaining whether these performances were conceived cynically or sincerely is impossible. As this dissertation has argued, the search for sincere sentiment distracts from recognizing the illocutionary force of these performances---that is to say, the cultural and political work they were to do. On many levels, authentic emotion is irrelevant to these questions. First, the performative quality of ritual instantiates its larger normative claims; the performer may be transformed by the act, even as he appropriates its symbols.3 Viewed in the long term, repeatedly acting out the gestures of obeisance normalizes and thus legitimizes the ideas they represent. Even if Sejo remained impervious to ritual's transformative power, the bulk of the Chosŏn elite were born into a world where such rituals were already legitimate. Second, even cynical performances (so long as they are convincing) can take on a life of their own, for those who encounter them have no reason to doubt the motivations behind them.4 Ming observers and Chosŏn performers (and vice-versa) had to interact with each other on the field of this ritual, and entered into a relationship, an Eliasian figuration, where both parties played to each other's expectations. Their diplomatic declarations, once uttered, and their rituals once performed, existed on a separate communicative plane, taking on a life of their own. Specific discourses and practices then became objects of symbolic contestation, often in ways that exceeded the confines of their original purpose.

The Brilliant Flowers anthologies (Hwanghwajip 皇華集) and their surrounding practices are an example of how a Korean performance of deference to the Ming engendered a space for symbolic contestation, whose significances resonated well beyond the limits of its original, intended purpose. In this chapter, I treat the Brilliant Flowers as a novel technology of Korean self-representation that fostered a space of social interaction between Ming emissaries and Chosŏn literati officials. It also shifted the burden of empire-making to literary sociability, which enabled the negotiation of imperial ideology and its symbolism within the social space of diplomatic encounters. As a result, Chosŏn and its officials could co-opt and the co-construct Ming empire to suit their own interests and purposes.5 At stake in the practice of envoy poetry was how imperial authority was to be imagined in relation to Korea's civilizing process, an issue which spoke directly to competing claims of political sovereignty and Korea's connection to the classical past.

The Chosŏn court first published the Anthology of the Brilliant Flowers in 1457. The anthology collected the poetry exchanges between Korean officials and the Ming envoys Chen Jian 陳鑑 (1415--1471) and Gao Run 高潤 (fl. 1457), who arrived that year to announce the restoration of the Yingzong emperor to the Ming throne. Documentary evidence for how the first edition of Brilliant Flowers came into being is scant, so reconstructing its origins is difficult. There are several plausible explanations. The Chosŏn court could have printed the anthology as a favor for Chen and Gao. Or perhaps it was meant to showcase Korean literary accomplishment.6 Other scholars have suggested that the anthology reaffirmed Chosŏn fealty to an embattled Ming dynastic house. In this view, the Yingzong emperor, who had lived under house arrest after being returned to the Ming by his Mongol captors, had only been restored to power after the sudden death of his brother, the Jingtai emperor. Sejo, whose own legitimacy was vulnerable as a usurper, published this anthology to ingratiate himself with the Ming.7 Each of these explanations has its merits, but the long-term significance for Chosŏn-Ming relations lies less in the conditions of the anthology's inception than in the life it had thereafter. Whether a momentary accommodation to the whims of two Ming envoys or a way to satisfy Ming desires for recognition at a time of dynastic vulnerability, it grew over time into something much more.

After its initial printing, the Brilliant Flowers became the center of a new diplomatic tradition. Its compilation, publication, and distribution continued to the end of the Ming period. From 1457 on, the Chosŏn court compiled thirty different anthologies, one for nearly every Ming literati-led envoy mission to Korea until 1633.8 Documenting Chosŏn-Ming diplomacy of nearly two centuries, these compilations comprise around 6500 individual pieces of poetry and prose exchanged between Ming emissaries and their Chosŏn hosts.9 As a gradual accumulation of anthologies, they took form as a unified corpus only gradually. The first attempt to join these anthologies into one, comprehensive set came in 1773, when King Yŏngjo commissioned their recompilation as a part of broader court project of commemorating the Ming. With this reprinting, the anthology took on new significance as a retrospective distillation of Chosŏn's relations with the Ming court.10

The Brilliant Flowers also wove a social fabric of the personal connections it fostered and a web of intertextual links through other compilations and texts in both China and Korea. Ming envoys often kept travelogues of their sojourn to Chosŏn and included their poetry exchanges with Korean officials and poets. Ming diplomatic compositions also found their way into the personal anthologies of individual writers.11 Chosŏn participants too left accounts of these exchanges, scattered among personal literary anthologies and miscellanies.12 As a prominent gift for Ming envoys and other Ming officials, the anthology embodied the cultural and social strategies the Chosŏn court pursued in diplomacy. Its novelty, both as a technology of representation and as a product of diplomatic interaction, made the anthology's emergence a watershed moment in Chosŏn-Ming relations.

Some scholars have taken the rise of envoy poetry in Chosŏn-Ming diplomacy to signal the advent of "ideal" tributary relations and thus mark the period of the Brilliant Flowers as emblematic of Chosŏn-Ming relations in general. The turn to "literary diplomacy" (詞賦外交) indeed occurred in lock-step with political and cultural shifts at the Ming court.13 When the Ming court no longer sent special eunuch emissaries to Chosŏn to procure luxury goods and human tribute, as it had done in the early fifteenth century, diplomacy with Korea left the hands of the inner palace and entered the hands of the literati-controlled Grand Secretariat.14 The meanings of these political shifts for Chosŏn-Ming relations are several. Not least of all, with diplomacy the purview of Ming literati, the values of literary and civil culture, represented by the Brilliant Flowers, became dominant. This shift marginalized, both in practice and in historical representation, actors who were central to the exercise of diplomacy but who could not participate as social equals in literary exchange. Eunuchs, professional interpreters, and military officers were sidelined in favor of an imperial vision that centered on Confucian men of letters.15

Against this broader pattern of shifts, one must resist viewing this period of "literary diplomacy" as a distillation of "ideal" tributary relations or Chosŏn-Ming relations. For one, the gentlemanly exchange of letters documented by the Brilliant Flowers was no more an essential feature of Chosŏn-Ming diplomacy than the extortive practices of Ming eunuchs (and literati) envoys were an aberration.16 A more critical problem is that essentializing Chosŏn-Ming relations as "literary diplomacy" risks naturalizing and obscuring the historical processes that led to these shifts in the first place. If one uses the larger structural shifts to explain Chosŏn diplomatic practices, then the latter appear only as reflections of broader changes, precluding the possibility that Chosŏn practices might actually have effected structural change in the first place. This chapter contends, instead, that literati ascendancy in Ming politics alone cannot explain the domination of literary values and practices in Chosŏn-Ming diplomacy. The role of Chosŏn investment in the Brilliant Flowers must also be appreciated. This investment reinforced the political ascendancy of Ming literati in and thus encouraged the Ming to deal with Chosŏn in this channel. In other words, Chosŏn diplomatic practice and broader Ming institutional shifts not only reinforced one another, but their consonance was also a deliberate outcome of Chosŏn strategy. This entire process is missed if the emergence of this new mode of diplomacy is taken for granted.

The envoy poetry of the Brilliant Flowers, like other literary genres and ritualized practices discussed thus far, did not reflect a political order, but constituted it. The anthology's many panegyrics to empire in fact fashioned ideals of empire to envision a proper place for Korea. Through poetry writing, Ming and Chosŏn envoys co-constructed an empire whose authority was not invested in the force of arms or the movement of goods, but in a continual process of literary reenactment. The envoy poem brought the empire to life through its encomia, willing it into existence through literary fiat. The literary turn of diplomacy elevated the generative power of the imperial project as a civilizing process, which rendered Chosŏn into an object of its civilizing force. As it became a consistent part of Chosŏn-Ming diplomacy, the anthology and its literary practices reified Chosŏn's identity as a loyal tributary, but also reinscribed imperial claims into a version of empire that the Chosŏn court and its officials had desired.

The anthology's poems emphasized Korea's own independent transmission of dynastic legitimacy, the literary prowess of its people, and its claim to a common civilizational past. At the center of this was a claim to local sovereignty articulated in Korea's own autonomous civilizing process. Not all of these claims, whether by Ming envoys or Chosŏn writers, were necessarily compatible with one another. What made literary practice different from other contexts of construction, then, was the coexistence of divergent views within one body of text. Co-construction did not imply that either Ming or Chosŏn envoys necessarily shared a monolithic preconception of what the empire was. Poetic craft, then, provided the mechanisms where divergent and often dissonant views could be harmonized and calibrated, even if only within the space of a couplet or quatrain.

Finding the Brilliant Flowers: Poetic Practice in Early Chosŏn Korea

Envoy poetry was important to East Asian diplomacy before the advent of the Brilliant Flowers.17 Imperial envoys and Korean officials had exchanged poems before, a practice dating to at least the Jin period.18 Most notably, in 1396 the Chosŏn envoy Kwŏn Kŭn wrote poems with the Ming emperor Taizu, an event widely celebrated by both the Chosŏn court and Ming envoys alike through the 16th century.19

Despite numerous antecedents the Chosŏn court, by compiling and publishing envoy poetry itself, fundamentally reinvented envoy poetry. Never before had the Korean court published the envoy writing of imperial envoys. The court's publication of the Brilliant Flowers formalized poetry exchange as official diplomatic practice. The anthologies also differed in both form and content from other envoy anthologies. When Ming envoys published their own anthologies,20 they rarely included a substantial number of Korean poems, and chose instead to showcase their own writing.21 The Brilliant Flowers, on the other hand, included both Ming and Chosŏn poetry in relatively equal proportion. It highlighted the literary accomplishments of Chosŏn courtiers alongside those of Ming envoys, upholding them as cultural and social equals. By constructing these relations of parity, the anthology hoped to foster mutual identification between Ming and Chosŏn diplomats, rather than cast them only as representatives of their respective rulers. Despite the ubiquitous references to the Chosŏn ruler and the Ming emperor, the monarchs were conspicuously absent as actors, sidelined in favor of the envoys and his hosts. In sum, the anthology repositioned the diplomatic center of gravity, shifting it from a relationship between a universal ruler and his monarch to one between literary peers.

The Brilliant Flowers' encouragement of mutual identification between men of letters implicitly upheld literary values in the space of the political and the imperial. This strategic move is analogous to other practices described in this dissertation, but the Brilliant Flowers did so in a particularly self-referential way. Its title, "Hwanghwa" (Ch: Huanghua 皇華) suggests an inextricable link between literary practice and imperial power. The polysemy of the two characters, hwang (Ch: Huang, imperial/brilliant/august) and hwa (Ch: Hua, efflorescence/civilization/China), allows the title to be read as "august efflorescence (civilization)," or "imperial China." This latter, literal reading of the term hwanghwa, however, was never explicitly employed in the Brilliant Flowers itself. When both Chosŏn and Ming envoy writers referred to the title of the anthology, they pointed to the term's locus classicus, a piece in the Classic of Poetry. The poem, "Brilliant are the flowers" (Ch: Huanghuang zhehua 皇皇者華), was so titled because of its affective image of flowers blooming brilliantly across the landscape as a dutiful Zhou royal emissary traveled to feudal states to procure virtuous men for his ruler.22 By couching it in the world of the classics, envoy poetry transformed the Chosŏn and the Ming into inheritors of a hallowed tradition, fostering correspondences that transcended distinctions of time and space. In this rendition the Ming envoy is the representative of the Zhou king who travels to the feudal state of yore, now imagined to be Chosŏn, where virtuous men and beautiful customs await his discovery.

The connection to the classical world of the Zhou depended on an appeal to a common literary tradition through the writing of poetry itself. Cultural identification implied by writing the same poetry helped construct a broader cultural imaginary. Through a shared knowledge of classical texts, whether the received traditions of the Zhou Dynasty, the writings of Song Neo-Confucians, or the poems of Tang masters, the literati of both China and Korea were by the fifteenth century writing within a larger "imagined community" (only to borrow the language of Benedict Anderson) with a common script.23 A shared cultural imaginary seemed to enable the expression of political allegiance. In what he calls the "complicity between Chinese classical literature and the imperial system," Stephen Owen has argued that poetic composition confirmed an individual's loyalties, not to the state and emperor per se, but to the ideological world-view that upheld the imperial system. The poem need not declare 'I am loyal,' for it demonstrated a thorough assimilation of the correlative cosmology on which the government's authority, even its justification to exist, is founded."24

These observations of the use of poetry imperial in the civil service exams appear to apply to envoy poetry, but only on the surface level. The Korean envoy poem both assimilated the correlative authority of imperial authority and declared loyalty to it. Moreover, the Chosŏn court's encouragement of envoy poetry also suggests its allegiance to the imperial view of the world. Modern scholars have therefore understood the Brilliant Flowers as an affirmation of a shared value system embodied in the literary tradition. Du Huiyue, for instance, takes envoy poetry as clear evidence of both the Chosŏn court's unquestioned loyalty to the Ming and the admiration of Chinese culture by the Ming elite.25 Such arguments seem compelling because classical poetics ascribes poetry, especially the si-poem (Ch: shi 詩), the power to speak to the immediacy of human emotions, and thus read them as authentic representation of an author's sentiments (i.e. shi yan zhi 詩言志). As such, they are also seen to be the genre most reflective of the author's interiority, and by extension, his moral character.26 When the si-poem is assumed to have lyrical authenticity, the envoy poem thus becomes a reliable indicator of the subjectivity of Chosŏn and Ming writers. What better demonstration of Chosŏn's "admiration of China" (mohwa chuŭi/muhwa zhuyi 慕華主義) and commitment to "Serving the Great" than the poems that expressed these sentiments?

There are several problems with these views, all tied to the hermeneutics of reading si-poetry. Proceeding from classical models to interpret poetry by assuming its lyrical authenticity risks neglecting the social and political contexts of their composition. Moreover, in the Chosŏn context, it ignores a history of centuries of appropriation and reinvention. Korean rulers had long appropriated the technologies and ideologies of empire and intertwined their own legitimacy with the symbolic authority of emperors. For Chosŏn envoy writers, the "correlative cosmology" tied the poem not only to imperial authority, but the Chosŏn kingship as well. Seeing poetic practice only as a reflection of politics also implies a recursive and reductive determinism. Certainly, literary practice can and does reflect diplomatic norms, for political hierarchies, ideological underpinnings, and institutional arrangements all become visible in the rhetoric and practice of the envoy poem. But, if poetry is understood in terms of its ability to reflect the "real" (constituted by things such as power, prestige, hierarchy, or structure, which often are in fact scholarly abstractions), it suggests one-dimensional, unidirectional relationship between politics and literary practice, with the former determining the latter. It discounts the possibility that the literary production could also shape the political. As a form of representation, literary exchange was part of a political theater, performed with instrumental aims.

Classical formulations notwithstanding, later writers of poetry saw the performance and artifice inherent in literary craft as undercutting the sentimental spontaneity and authenticity of the poem, and thus its moral value as a whole.27 Early Chosŏn courtier-poets shared these anxieties over craft and its threat to poetry's moral value. The belles-lettres (sajang/cizhang 詞章), which included poetry, had a particularly uneasy relationship with both Neo-Confucian learning and the demands of statecraft. Detractors pointed to its "frivolity,"and found it "insignifican [t ]" to a literati's proper pursuits, namely moral cultivation and classical scholarship.28 Although the belles-lettres eventually occupied a central place in Korea's civil service exam curriculum, their status as a legitimate scholarly pursuit was tenuous during the Chosŏn's earlier years. The Chosŏn founder had in fact abolished the poetry examination and his successors did not restore it until 1453.29

Restoration of the poetry examination was due to the the growing importance of literary exchange in diplomacy with Ming envoys. As Peter Lee has stated, "if the government failed to nurture talented writers, the country would fare poorly in international relations."30 One Chosŏn official, Yi Ch'angsin 李昌臣 (1449--1506), cautioned his king against neglecting belles-lettres, in spite of its "irrelevance to governing the country," precisely for this reason.31 The arguably utilitarian defense of the state patronage of poetry may appear to diminish its intellectual and cultural importance, such a discourse belied both the political and ideological role it played at the Chosŏn court. Poetry writing in diplomacy, however, was not simply a matter of entertaining Ming envoys, for Chosŏn court poets invested their writing with moral and political claims that impacted the legitimacy and authority of the Chosŏn state on the one hand, and the ideological construction of the Ming and its empire on the other.

The envoy poet was ever aware of the public nature of his writings, visible not only to his counterparts on the outset, but with their systematic publication by the Chosŏn court, privy to posterity. This awareness did not preclude assertions of authentic sentiment, but this emphasis points to the problems of trust and sincerity inherent to diplomacy.32 The purported lyrical authenticity of the poem then went hand in hand with the need to establish trust with one's audience by assuring them of one's sincerity. Like in other diplomatic genres, such as the p'yomun memorial discussed in Chapter 1, sincerity was a construct of the genre. These practices reflected ideology and structure, but only because its ideology and structure emerged from them.

The intertwined political use and social practice of poetry should reveal where the classical formulation of lyrical authenticity is inadequate. Envoy poets wrote for social moments. The anthology's paratexts: prefaces, titles, and postscripts, indicate with specificity their social function.33 Chosŏn and Ming envoys often wrote poems to each via a popular form of linked composition, called "rhyme-matching" (ch'aun/ciyun 次韻).34 Rhyme-matching required responses to a predecessor's poetry to use the same rhyme words, a practice conducive to the recycling of tropes and images. Since Ming envoys often responded to predecessors separated by decades, if not centuries, this practice granted diplomatic relations between the two states a semblance of timelessness. The Chosŏn court reinforced this image by carving these poems on plaques and steles that adorned the sites Ming envoys visited. Both these envoys and their Chosŏn hosts consulted prior editions of the Brilliant Flowers as models for their own compositions. As it came to be used and reused through the 17th century, the Brilliant Flowers emerged as a repertoire of knowledge for both Chosŏn and Ming envoys.35 All in all, the poems of this anthology, ranging from brief quatrains to extended meditations sustained over sixty or seventy couplets, were not self-contained pieces of private introspection, but products of literary sociability.36


Figure 3: A Tongp'ach'e poem

A considerable number of pieces were meant to demonstrate literary virtuosity. The hwemunche poem (Ch: huiwenti 迴文體) and the tongp’ache poem, shown here, (Ch: dongpoti 東坡題), for example, are featured extensively in these anthologies. Hwemunche, lit. “Reverse-text poems,” were semordnilaps, compositions that showed perfect poetic prosody whether read forwards or backwards. Tongp’ache poems involved writing a poem with characters using modified strokes, where color, length, orientation and composition sometimes insinuated whole phrases. For example, the character for “mountain,” san/shan 山 written in green ink would be read as “green hills,” (ch’ŏngsan/qingshan 青山). Example from the 1539 HHJ, reprint from the SKCM pt.4, v.301

Literary exchange, as a medium of sociability, often enshrined a sense of personal friendship between Ming literati envoys and their Chosŏn counterparts. In their exchanges, they often expressed sentiments they hoped would transcend both political geography and human time.37 The social embeddeness of envoy poetry is also corroborated by the intertextual relations an individual poem has with other compositions and with other genres of writing. Chosŏn miscellanies, like the P'irwŏn chapki of Sŏ Kŏjŏng or the P'aegwan chapki of the interpreter Ŏ Sukkwŏn (魚叔權 fl. 15th century), which documented this sociability, also reveal a prevailing concern with literary reputation and competition.38 Literary virtuosity was valued for both Ming envoys and Chosŏn officials, as anecdotes about their exchanges were abound in these selections. In the judgment of these Chosŏn writers, a Ming envoy's character was reflected in a combination of both his literary ability and his moral behavior, with few receiving unqualified praise in both. By the same token, a Chosŏn poet's abilities reflected directly on the overall literary attainment of Korea itself.39

Figure 4: Poem by the 1476 Ming envoy Qi Shun

Both expressions of friendship in poetry and acts of literary competition proffered a sense of social parity rooted in a common script and literary tradition.40 When a Ming official could see a Chosŏn counterpart not simply as a representative of a foreign (or worse, barbarian) ruler but as men of letters, then their mutual identification could also suggest the possibility of cultural parity between the Chosŏn and the Ming. The Chosŏn court thus tried to foster this identification, selecting only the best literary talents to be members of the envoy reception committee.41 Hoping to further showcase Korean talent, it published the Brilliant Flowers to secure imperial attention for Chosŏn writers, and by extension, Korea's cultural accomplishments. In this manner, sociability and literary talent went hand in hand. Even as the Brilliant Flowers clearly coded the hierarchical distinction between the Ming emperor and the Chosŏn ruler,42 it posited an alternative relationship of parity, in which the Chosŏn and the Ming were peers in cultural attainment.

The Chosŏn court and its scholars made considerable efforts to claim this parity, but struggled against Ming condescension.43 The mid-Chosŏn miscellany writer, Yu Mong'in 柳夢寅 (1559--1623), who traveled several times to the Ming as an envoy, once complained that "over these hundreds of years ....not a single piece of writing from our country [i.e. Korea ]" adorned the edifices along the "several thousand leagues" of road to Beijing. Yu was miffed that Chinese literati have "looked down upon [Koreans ] since antiquity" and did not treat them as social or intellectual equals.44 This frustration may have been related to Yu's oft-cited dismissal of the Brilliant Flowers, a collection, that was in his words, "not [worth ] transmitting to posterity," and doomed to "obscurity." To him, the court squandered the opportunity because it had "indiscriminately" selected court poets to receive Ming envoys. Chosŏn poets thus failed to shine when the kingdom's prestige was at stake and the Brilliant Flowers did no more than "elicit the derision of men from both man and heaven" (貽笑天人).45

Yu Mong'in's criticisms anticipated what the late Ming-early Qing literary critic (and self-identified Ming loyalist) Qian Qianyi 錢謙益 (1582--1664) wrote when he read the Brilliant Flowers. He too found its poems lackluster, "bereft of remarkably beautiful verses." Qian explained it to be a result of the "plain and flat" literary style of Korean poetry. Ming envoys, on the other hand, had to "weaken their [own ] verses to accommodate them," in keeping with the principles of "cherishing men from afar."46 In other words, Qian excused the mediocre Ming writing by claiming their authors wrote plainly on purpose in order not to embarrass their hosts by showing off their talents: a sacrifice of personal literary repute for the larger goals of maintaining cordial relations and demonstrating imperial magnanimity.47 Yu Mong'in would have undoubtedly disagreed with Qian. Responsibility for the poetry's poor quality fell on both Ming envoys and the anthology's compilers. According to Yu, the Chosŏn court hoped to curry favor with Ming envoys and dared not refuse even a single poem that the Ming envoys presented. Without discriminating between the "beautiful and the ugly," they included everything.48 Yu and Qian blamed the anthology's diluted quality on different parties, but their diagnosis was essentially identical. Accommodation of sociability and political exigency, whether by the Chosŏn compilers or the Ming poets, was ultimately at fault.

Both Qian and Yu's critiques might have suggested that collection ultimately failed to secure Korean literary reputation, but these later judgments must be accepted only cautiously. Dismissals of literary quality only underscored the political, social, and ideological function of this anthology. A reader in search of timeless poetry may be disappointed by the Brilliant Flowers' heavy-handed ideology and ornate imagery, interspersed with the doggerel of sociability. Those in search of its political symbolism, however, will find much to appreciate.49 Qian Qianyi may have dismissed the anthology's literary merits, but appreciated it for the reverence it showed the Ming.50 In Chosŏn, the Brilliant Flowers was reprinted shortly after the Imjin War in celebration of Ming military aid, but was largely ignored after the Ming's fall. When King Yŏngjo ordered its recompilation, it took years to collect the scattered volumes to complete a reprinting. For King Yŏngjo too, the Brilliant Flowers represented less Chosŏn's literary attainments than evidence of Chosŏn Korea's unwavering, if nostalgic, loyalty to the Ming imperium.

The Brilliant Flowers were appreciated first and foremost as an encomium to empire. Their superimposition of the literary, social, and political in one space, a result of poetry written to satisfy the needs of a moment, made them vulnerable to later critical appraisals, but it is precisely the feature that makes these anthologies a useful window into the culture of diplomacy of this period.51 The superimposition generates several points of tension, namely the function of the literary to overwrite political and social friction and the multivocality of a literary sociability at the service of political ideology. The task of literary encomium precluded overt discussion of contentious areas in Chosŏn-Ming relations. A veneer of high imperial rhetoric celebrated the beautiful and the virtuous, glazing over possible sources of animosity and conflict, to construct a harmonious social space paralleling the tranquil relations between the two courts.

Multivocality was integral for the Brilliant Flowers' effect of encomium. The Ming could always count on its own officials to sing its praises, but here, the celebration of empire ceased to be a solipsist's exercise in self-adulation. Chosŏn officials, by literally resonating with Ming ambassadors, confirmed the authenticity and legitimacy of Ming imperial claims. As disparate parties came together and rhymed in their celebration of the Ming, they co-produced the empire in discourse. Yet, this multivocality cut both ways. Even as these envoys wrote to harmonize in ideology, rhetoric, and literary style, fractures and divisions still come to the fore as the diverse participants of the Brilliant Flowers advanced competing narratives of what empire was and should be.

Imperial Encomium and the Academic Style

The poetry of political encomium in Ming literary history is associated with the so-called "Secretariat Style" (Ch: taige ti 台閣體), so-called because it evolved from the poetry of the Three Yang's 三楊, Yang Shiqi 楊士奇 (1364--1444), Yang Rong 楊榮 (1371--1440), and Yang Fu 楊溥 (1372--1446), three figures who made their literary careers in the Ming Grand Secretariat.52 Though these men only held low-ranking posts as academicians53 of the Hanlin Academy54, they occupied a keystone position as liaisons between the emperor and the civil bureaucracy.55 By virtue of both the prestige and concrete political power concentrated in such figures, these academicians exerted enormous influence on both literary trends and political decision making. Their "Secretariat Style," said to "adorn Great Peace" (Ch: fufu taiping 黼黻太平) and "sing the accomplishments and virtues" (Ch: gegong songde 歌功頌德) dominated the Ming literary scene through the end of the reign of Emperor Yingzong in 1464.56

Conventional explanations of the decline of the "Secretariat Style" points to its gradual divorce from social reality. Attributing its dominance to the Ming's tangible prosperity during the Yongle and Xuande reigns, debacles such as the Battle of Tumu turned the "Secretariat Style" into an artifact of courtly conceit.57 It was ironically the wane of Ming power that brought this academic poetry to Chosŏn. In fact, the first envoy to engage in extensive poetic exchange with Chosŏn officials, Ni Qian 倪謙 (1415--1479), who arrived in Chosŏn to proclaim the accession of the Jingtai emperor, has been described as a representative Secretariat poet.58 Ni Qian was not alone among the mid-Ming envoy-poets associated with this court-centered literary circle. The 1457 envoy Chen Jian and the 1460 envoy Zhang Ning too were also well-known academic poets of this period.59

Ni Qian came to Korea in a time of unusual political uncertainty, but in fact many of the Brilliant Flowers were compiled during moments of transition. Since Ming literati usually only led embassies to announce the accession of a new emperor or the investiture of a Ming heir apparent, on many occasions the "Sagely Ruler" on the throne was but newly crowned, untested in rule. Chosŏn's affirmation of loyalty to the Ming was doubly significant in such times, as it insisted a stereotyped image of the imperial person that was consistently sagely, benevolent, and perfect in these literary encomiums. Just as, in the words of Gari Ledyard, "each new diplomatic pouch to Korea" brought a message that insisted on the perfectibility of imperial virtue, in spite of the "tyranny and delinquency" of the Ming emperor, the envoy poems of the Brilliant Flowers proscribed an imperial personality equally disembodied from tangible reality.60

The primary audience for the Brilliant Flowers were not Ming emperors, but the Ming Secretaries and Hanlin Academicians charged with actualizing a vision of civil rule and who often had to negotiate and contend with the highly personal and arbitrary style of Ming sovereigns. By describing emperors in this manner together, Chosŏn and Ming literati constructed a shared ideal of empire that could also be a vehicle for censure.61 Disembodied ideals of empire were constructed against the imperfect reality of imperial virtue that Ming officials and Chosŏn courtiers alike knew too well.62 Detachment did not make the rhetoric and imagery of encomium meaningless; instead, it should be read as an elucidation of an institutionalized ideal, an illocutionary act that reinforced not just the terms of Chosŏn-Ming relations, but also the standards and values of empire. These poems fabricated an empire in the abstract, not a human emperor.63

The features of the "Secretariat Style" also define the poetry of the Brilliant Flowers. As imperial academicians, secretariat poems wrote on imperial command. Court life: banquets, royal outings, ascent poems, painting inscriptions, compositions on history, and seeing off fellow officials were among its major topoi.64 The 1460 envoy Zhang Ning's "Ascending the tower at the Hall of Great Peace in sixty rhymes" is a quintessential example of the kinds of scenic writing common to both the "Secretariat Style" and the Brilliant Flowers. Aptly named, for it describes a vision of grand peace that appeared during the ascension of a tower by the same name. Located in the residence for Ming envoys in the Chosŏn capital, the Hall of Great Peace (T'aep'yŏnggwan 太平館) was the site for banquets held in an envoy's honor. Zhang's postface to his poem written on this occasion tied literary enterprise with the political aspirations of empire. Conventions of ascending high, scenic description, and historical rumination fuse together in this piece:

In the spring of the fourth year of the Tianshun reign, I came as an envoy to Chosŏn on imperial orders. I ascended high and looked off into the distance, thinking of the imperial capital and looked around me at the kingdom [of Korea ]. The timing of nature, the affairs of men, the scenery and objects, mountains and rivers-- the diversity of things hidden and apparent---they all come into my mind and gaze.65

The envoy-poet mediates between the generative energy of nature and the productive power of writing. Together they become interchangeable with imperial universalism. The natural scenery of Chosŏn, and affirmations of its loyalty to the Ming, became celebrations of the splendor universal rule and its cosmic import. Lines like, "The grace of heaven and earth is enjoyed by all the same; / Among the civilized and the barbarian, none do not pay obeisance to the origin,"66 compared the bearing of tribute by foreign parties to the all-embracing reach of heaven and earth. Because the Ming had "inherited the statutes of the Zhou," (膺周典則) its "territory covered all that was once the Han's domain" (輿圖盡屬漢提封).67

Favorable comparisons to past dynasties and ancient Sage Kings in the lines of the Brilliant Flowers were not in themselves interesting because they were common in other imperial paeans, but they were deployed in conjunction with favored tropes particular to the Brilliant Flowers. Imperial universalism was one of them. Chosŏn writers who responded to Ming envoys in verse made use of similar devices. The restoration of Ming Yingzong to power in 1457 elicited the lines: " [the emperor ] again pacifies the Jade Domain [i.e. the empire ]; proclaiming [his rule ] within and without, he begins anew with all-under-heaven, seeing it all with one heart." Though it opens with an oblique reference to Yingzong's restoration, the tract immediately turns away from the imperial person towards the quality of the Ming's impartial gaze.68 Chosŏn diplomats often appealed to this impartiality, when they made demands upon Ming emperors and officials alike. Tied to notions of universal empire, this trope carried a dual function.69 It praised the imperial project while committing it to a particular way of treating Korea, an "insignificant fief that occupied the sea's margin." The Ming, by "proclaiming the proper lunation to the eight frontiers" had demonstrated its commitment to "see Korea just as its own interior territory."70

The deployment and elaboration of this particular trope distinguishes the poetry of the Brilliant Flowers qualitatively from the usual academic encomium. While Ming encomiums certainly possessed descriptions of all-encompassing majesty, the envoy poem had to make such visions concrete and applicable to Korea. Rather than an aloof imaginary of all-encompassing inclusivity radiating from an imperial center, the gaze of this imperial vision fell concretely on a particular space. These envoy-poets had to integrate Chosŏn within an imperial vision in the presence of Chosŏn observers. With the Korean audience contributing its own articulations of that vision in its matching verses, the impartial imperial gaze, then, was neither the private conceit of Ming officials nor a fantasy of their Korean hosts. Statements such as "In a Sagely Age of August Peace the airs are harmonious; / Heaven's grace goes far to the East of the Sea [i.e. Korea ]" (聖世隆平和氣洽 天恩遙到海東頭)71 may appear as unequivocal expressions of Ming magnanimity, but lines like the following in Zhang Ning's "Hall of Grand Peace" also pervaded these exchanges:

In the Eastern Land the culture of letters has always been good, Since long ago, the Central Court had bequeathed upon it wonders. A vassal screen for the imperial house, it observes the decorum of virtue; Its ceremonies model Sagely Forms, consoling the downtrodden people.72

Korea's integration into this vision of empire, projected from a vista overlooking the Chosŏn capital, depended on the mutually constitutive effects of resonance and reciprocity. The empire produced through this act of viewing and writing propounded a universalism that could make irrelevant the questions of geographical distance and cultural difference: "The road reaches the ends of the water and land, and the sounds of the country are different; / [but ], spring fills qian and kun [i.e. Heaven and Earth ], and the scenery is all the same." In the next two dozen or so couplets, Zhang described Korea's scenery as one of spectacular beauty, owing to the resonance between nature's cosmic magnanimity and the political harmony brought by Ming rule: "The passing years have now changed again with harmonious light/ Even small things are embraced by Creation's force" (流年又遂陽和換 微物均為造化容). The splendors of nature generate profusely from his brush, quickening with the coming of spring.73

The generative power of spring functioned as a metaphor for the power of literary production. In turn, writing was a vehicle of the empire's civilizing influence. The literary incorporation of Chosŏn's landscape into an imperial gaze was inseparable from political implications. Like in the poem of the 1537 envoy Gong Yongqing 龔用卿 (1500--1563), "Crossing the Yalu" (渡鴨綠) where the imperial messenger's passage across the Yalu River awakened the flowers on the river's banks, the envoy, an agent of empire, literally brought civilization to distant lands. For Gong, all this was self-evident confirmation that "literary influence belonged to one rule.74 In the logic of this literary device, celebrations of Korea's own literary accomplishments could then always further indicate the Ming's achievements. The 1476 envoy Qi Shun's "Rhapsody on Phoenix Hill" (鳳山賦) illustrates this motif. A place in Chosŏn so named because a phoenix had once alighted upon it, Qi ruminated on the significance of the phoenix as portents of a pacific age. Dismissing past examples of descending phoenixes as "marvels of a moment," Qi exclaimed that "now with a Brilliant Sage above, the literary course flourishes, extending from the Nine Realms within to the distant marches without; the transformations of virtue have spread vigorously in harmony and exuberance."75 Along with other auspicious signs that demonstrated the Ming's splendor, the "colored bird of Korea too comes to meet a glorious dawn." Qi asks, rhetorically, "does this not show the renewal of the Eastern Fief's civilization, and demonstrate the complete triumph of our Court's transforming power?"76 Literary enterprise, Ming universalism, Chosŏn's allegiance to empire, and the social space of envoy writing reinforced one another. In this imagination of the imperial, sovereignty was expressed not in terms of territorial rule or military prowess, but in monopoly of the civilizing process.

Imperial sovereignty, however disembodied from an actual ruler, was nevertheless squarely situated within the imperial tradition. The Ming claimed to inherit the legacies of its predecessors, but also tried to show it had surpassed them. The empire was a legible political imaginary insomuch as it was connected to institutions and practices retrieved from the dynastic and classical past. Korea played a critical role in demonstrating Ming superiority. A Ming local official, Xue Yingqi 薛應旂 (1500--1575) pointed to the unprecedented arrangement the Ming had with the Chosŏn, in his preface to the now lost Korean travelogue of his friend, the 1537 vice-envoy Wu Ximeng 吳希孟:

The Chosŏn of today was once the country of Jizi [Kija ] in the Zhou. During the Han, it was the prefectures of Lelang and Xuantu. It was always a place where [civilizing ] influence (shengjiao) reached. When the mangniji (i.e. the military dictator Yŏn'gaesomun) brought tumult during the Zhenguan period [627--649 ], the dispatch of China's troops could not be avoided .... Only with the rise of the Ming did they sincerely turn towards transformation [i.e. show their allegiance ], and came [to pay tribute ] ahead of the various barbarians---A great triumph of our Emperor's diffusion of culture.77

Korea's submission to the Ming made it superior to previous imperial dynasties. The Ming earned Korea's submission, not through the force of arms, but through its literary and cultural power. This articulation of Korea's significance in the rhetorical logic of empire denied Chosŏn any agency over the civilizing process. Korea's only role was in "turning to civilization;" it could not create its own. Furthermore, the reasoning that underlay Ming superiority over its Han and Tang predecessors presumed the legitimacy of the Ming's sovereign reach, that Korea, as the location of the former Han prefectures of Lelang and Xuantu, an integral part of the empire itself.78 The Ming's achievement is only legible within a logic of imperial irredentism, where figurative assertions of imperial universalism easily slips into a literal claim of imperial dominion. In this imperial vision, why should Korea, as an independent state, exist at all?

The Problem of Civilization: Eastward Flow or Eastern Spring?

When imperial envoys arrived in Korea, they witnessed a society that appeared to them in many ways similar to their own. The Song envoy Xu Jing already noted in 1123 the flourishing of Confucian literati culture and presence of familiar political institutions.79 Korean civil service exams, an organized bureaucracy, and court ceremonial paralleled imperial practices. Ming envoys, like Dong Yue 董越 (1430--1502) of the 1488 mission, also remarked these similarities. Though he noted peculiar differences, such as the absence of precious metals as currency and the existence of a local aristocracy, the yangban, Korea was at least legible to his gaze.80 Unlike other peoples on the empire's frontier, whose customs were often dismissed as simply "barbaric," Ming envoys like Dong Yue lauded Chosŏn observance of Confucian rituals.81 Korea's use of literary Chinese and the performance of rituals while wearing "robes and caps" (衣冠) made Korea uncannily familiar to these literati, most of whom would have never had an opportunity to travel beyond the empire's interior. The ritual performances at the Confucian temple most firmly demonstrated this legibility. The 1537 envoy Gong Yongqing thus wrote of his visit to the one in P'yŏngyang, "The East holds on to the teachings of wen, / Revering the way at the temple's worship" 東方守文教 敬道崇廟貌. Literary and civil culture, rooted in Confucian teachings, was respected in Korea as well. But, for Gong, this reverence for "Confucian airs" was the result of "Imperial transformation," a tangible testament to the "effectiveness" of its "gradual flow" 皇化重儒風 漸摩知所效.82

Although it was not explicit in Gong's poem, the "flow" of civilization was always conceived as trickling from China eastward. This "eastward flow of civilization" (東漸之化) was a common idiom in the Brilliant Flowers. Drawn from the well-known passage in the "Tribute of Yu" in the Book of Documents it expressed the universalizing aspirations of empire.83 The mid-Ming author of the Supplement to the Extended Meaning of the Greater Learning (大學衍義補) Qiu Jun 丘濬 (1420--1495), who emphasized the importance of statecraft to the Neo-Confucian program of self-cultivation, explained it as thus: "the rule of an enlightened sage ... flows like water until it reaches the ocean to cover all, much as there is nothing that heaven does not encompass; all that heaven encompasses can be reached by the sage's moral transformation."84 The terms used to express this "civilization" force, shengjiao (Kr: sŏnggyo 聲教) are variably translated in scholarly literature, likely because it defies an easy equivalence, encompassed a host of related meanings.85 Qiu identified the two elements of this concept, sheng and jiao, as complementary mechanisms. While sheng pointed to "that which arises here and is heard by those afar," jiao referred to the "models established here and are emulated from afar." The process of transformation (hwa/hua 化) thus entailed not direct intercession, but influence that spread naturally through moral rectitude. Its universal reach was achieved through the admiration of others who emulated one's moral example.86 Elsewhere in his Supplement, Qiu Jun, who likely interacted with Chosŏn embassies during his tenure as a Ming grand secretary, praised Korea for "observing their station" (安分守) and "reverently submitting to the imperial court, coming to pay tribute at all times, without neglecting their ritual duties."87 He explained that the Ming's "virtuous transformation was what has moved" Chosŏn to submit and saw the Korean case as a tangible actualization of the classical ideals he expounded.88

Korean writers also actively participated in this discourse of civilization. The Brilliant Flowers offers a wealth of such Korean examples, but when Korean writers wrote of civilization's "eastward flow," they often emphasized Chosŏn's primacy. Kim Su'on 金守溫 (1409--1481) in his response to the 1476 envoy Qi Shun's "Rhapsody on Phoenix Hill," is one example. By stating that "though our state is said to be [but ] one corner [of the world ], it is first to receive the eastward flow of civilization."89 Kim turned an expression of the universal moral authority of the Son of Heaven into a demonstration of Korea's privileged position. Ming rule was to be impartial, but it was supposed to be especially impartial to Korea.90 As it is often the case in Korean use of classical allusion in diplomacy, its interpretive significance was seldom confined to the readings of Chinese commentators, and were adapted in advantageous ways to the Korean situation, often quite subtly.

The universal mode that Kim elucidates, however, was not the only possible vision of empire. The Song Neo-Confucian Zhu Xi, whose ideas were foundational to both early Ming and Chosŏn thought, insisted that there were distant reaches, the so-called huangfu (Kr: hwangpok 荒服), where civilizing influence could not reach.91 In other words there were two competing theoretical visions at work, one where influence could extend infinitely, and another in which geography placed a natural boundary to its extension. The question that remains was where Korea fit into this scheme. Was it a place where imperial influence could reach, or a place beyond its pale?

As discussed in chapter 2, the first Ming emperor Hongwu chose the latter interpretation when he rejected the Chosŏn founder's request for investiture.92 He had told the Chosŏn court to "do [the activity of ] shengjiao on one's own terms" (聲教自由). The Hongwu emperor denounced Korea for its recent political turmoil and clearly demarcated China as "where moral norms rested" (我中國綱常所在) and Korea as a "land separated by mountains and beyond the sea." Its status as a land of "eastern barbarians" was "heaven-made" so as "not to be governed by China." Hardly statements of approval, Chosŏn's independence was founded on its unchangeable and preternatural barbarity.93 A later edict to the same effect was promulgated in 1396. While Ming Taizu refused investiture on the grounds that "Chosŏn ... was the country of the Eastern barbarians, with different customs and distinct mores," and had no desire to make it his vassal, he also chastised T'aejo for being "stubborn, querulous, cunning and deceiving." His acknowledgment of Korean autonomy by relinquishing claims of cultural sovereignty over it was tantamount to stating that Korea was too "barbaric:" culturally unprepared for and morally undeserving of his imperial grace.94 Ming Taizu also stated, however that Korea "should have a king," and implied that he would "make [T'aejo ] a king," [i.e. formally invest him ] if his "character improved." In other words, if Korea can prove that it was amenable to imperial control, the Ming ruler would grant Korean rulers investiture, and make him a formal vassal, bringing Korea within the civilizing power of the imperial court.

For Ming Taizu, "permitting" Chosŏn to carry out the civilizing process (sŏnggyo/shengjiao) "on one's own terms" was a rejection of Chosŏn's cultural and political legitimacy. It provided grounds for denial of investiture. After Ming Taizu's death, however, Chosŏn rulers not only received Ming investiture, but also appropriated Taizu's original proclamation and inverted its original logic. Whereas receipt of investiture would theoretically annul Chosŏn sovereignty over the civilizing process, early Chosŏn statesmen employed Ming Taizu's phraseology to sanctify Korea's political and cultural autonomy.95 During the reign of King Sejong (r. 1418--1450), the Chosŏn court undertook numerous projects of political legitimation that demonstrated its local sovereign claims. Sejong sponsored, for instance, the invention of the Korean alphabet as a "local" vernacular script. His astronomers apportioned an "Eastern" heaven that was reserved for Chosŏn.96 In this formative period, court officials triangulated classical prescriptions and contemporary Ming practice with native customs to revamp Korean state ceremonies, royal marriage practices, and diplomatic protocols and other rituals under the auspices of local sovereignty.97 Belief in the legitimacy of Korea's own institutions and native traditions, allowed Chosŏn officials to defend them, even against the criticism and intervention of Ming officials.98

These discourses of Korean cultural sovereignty notwithstanding, Ming envoys and Korean officials still asserted that the emperor's shengjiao did in fact extend to Korea and superimposed Ming claims over the Chosŏn court's own ones. When examined on these grounds however, this idea of Ming influence was at best an abstraction. Since shengjiao did not just articulate claims of political sovereignty, but also referenced more concretely the quotidian actions of "civilizing:" reforming customs, building schools and shrines, and extolling moral virtues. In other words, the civilizing project required some level of activism, either on the part of the state or local literati.99 The "civilizing process" in Chosŏn, defined through the dictates of Confucian statecraft, ritual, and social mores, was effected through a concerted effort on the part of activist officials at the early Chosŏn court to enact social legislation.100 The power of "civilizing" (sŏnggyo/shengjiao) was also an expression of political sovereignty and thus became a way to legitimize the Chosŏn court's intervention into local customs, ritual practice and social mores.101 The tangible activities of "civilizing" were all tied to court initiative.102 Despite (or rather because of) its "imperial" associations, the Chosŏn court did not hesitate to characterize its own rule over Korea in these same terms, though it sometimes refrained from adopting the all-encompassing, cosmic universalism of imperial rhetoric.103

The Ming court had nothing to do with any of these initiatives, but that did not stop Ming observers from casually attributing them to the Ming's virtuous influence. From the vantage point of Ming court, the perspective had its merits. Ming officials, like Qiu Jun, for example, noted the Korean desire for Chinese books.104 Important imperial commissions, such as the History of the Song Dynasty (宋史) and the Great Compendia of [Neo-Confucian Commentaries on ] the Five Classics, Four Books, and Nature and Principle (五經四書性理大全) had been requested by the Chosŏn court or bequeathed via tribute envoys.105 The subsequent flourishing of Confucian culture in Chosŏn was then attributed to this transfer of knowledge, one made possible by Ming munificence. When the Yongle emperor granted a copy of the royally commissioned the Great Compendia, his edict called this gift (along with other, more worldly items), a demonstration of "extraordinary favor" and encouraged him to "read books diligently."106

Figure 5: Ming Influence model of the civilizing process

Figure 6: Chosŏn Court-centered model of the civilizing process

Two narratives of the civilizing process: Ming influence (figure 5) and appropriation by the Chosŏn court (Figure 6)

These two narratives, one of "eastward transmission" and another that emphasizes Korea's autonomous civilizing process, appear to be complementary historical explanations. Each narrative reflects a distinct claim of cultural authority, ascribing agency over the civilizing process, and therefore political sovereignty, to different actors. Neither perspective is complete, nor are they mutually exclusive. An exclusive focus on Chosŏn agency may occlude the Ming's role as a transmitter of knowledge and a model for Korean institutions, but understanding this process solely in terms of Ming influence leads to more critical problems. For one, it discounts prior Korean interest in Neo-Confucianism and the classical tradition in general well before the Ming's founding. After all, Ming gifts of books would have been meaningless without a ready audience to receive, interpret, and apply the knowledge they contained. Korean rulers and their subjects did not need Ming exhortation to "read books;" they were doing it already. Korea's civilizing process was not a spontaneous response to imperial virtue. And neither envoys nor emperors were responsible for bringing spring flowers to Korea, even if their poetry suggests otherwise.

The two narratives are thus less complementary than they first appear, because they in fact encapsulate largely incompatible notions of cultural and political authority embedded in their distinct directionality. This tension directly impinges on how the Brilliant Flowers and envoy poetry should be interpreted. Scholar Du Huiyue points to the reaction of Ming literati to Korean envoy poetry. For them, such as the Ming scholar Wu Jie 吳節 (1416--?), who wrote a preface to the Ming envoy Ni Qian's poetry anthology, Korean poetry exchanges were not only "testimonies to Korea's civilization," but also a demonstration of "the success of the Ming dynasty's propagation of civil and Confucian culture to faraway lands."107 To show that Korean writers expressed similar sentiments, Du uses as an example Sŏ Kŏjŏng's preface to the personal collection of poems exchanged with Ming envoys compiled by the Chosŏn official Pak Wŏnhyŏng 朴元亨 (1411--1469). Indeed, Sŏ Kŏjŏng expressed pride over the flourishing of the "ritual, music, and culture of China" (中華禮文化) in Korea. For Du, Sŏ's statements too implicitly confirmed the "success" of the Ming's civilizing project.108 A closer reading of Sŏ's preface, however, shows that Sŏ envisioned the directionality of the civilizing process in ways entirely different from Ming literati like Wu Jie:

Our Eastern Country is situated far beyond the sea. The flourishing of its ritual and music can be compared to that of the Central Efflorescence (i.e. China, chunghwa). There has been no shortage of excellent men who were worthy [of comparison ] to ancient worthies and ministers. The Revered Imperial Ming reigns over the universe. From within the seas and beyond, there are none who are not its subject. It looks to Chosŏn, and treats it as a feudal lord of the interior. With gifts and tribute, [the Chosŏn and Ming ], look to each other.109

Sŏ was certainly proud of the flourishing civilization in Chosŏn, but there is no sense that this civilization was transplanted from the Ming. Instead, Chosŏn, whose men of talent were on par with "ancient worthies," becomes virtually equivalent to China, the Central Efflorescence. Civilization flows not from the Ming per se, but from antiquity. Chosŏn was now coeval with the Ming, at least in terms of its "ritual, music, and literature." In this formulation, trappings of civilization were not inherently "Chinese" or Ming objects, but legacies of a common classical past. In the present they became a benchmark against which civilizational attainments were to be measured. The origin of Chosŏn's civilization was no different from that of the Ming; they flowed from the same wellspring.

Figure 7: Coeval model of the civilizing process

Cultural parity and shared inheritance of the past: a third vision of the civilizing process, understood by Sŏ Kŏjŏng and promoted by the Brilliant flowers

Sŏ acknowledged Ming claims of universal authority, which also implied sovereignty over not only Korea, but all of the ecumenical world. Nevertheless, no causal relationship between Ming universalism and Chosŏn efflorescence was advanced. Instead, they were mutually constitutive. A reciprocative hierarchy allowed the two parties to gaze upon each other with "gifts and tribute." This sense of mutuality and reciprocity, founded on the Ming's (im)partial treatment of Korea is elaborated further in this preface. The way Sŏ emphasized the agency of Korean court officials like himself in fact decentered the Ming, even as its emperor sat at the apex of the world.

Now the Son of Heaven [i.e. the Ming emperor ], benevolent and sagely, [treats ] the four seas as one family. Our Majesty [ever since ] he has bore heaven's [mandate ] and inaugurated his rule, served the Great State with utmost sincerity. Your Excellency assisted [the king ] left and right, a great aid for all times. With your literary refinement and ritual decorum, you acquired a bearing that brought respect to our king. With your chanting of poems and your matching of verses, you glorified the Son of Heaven's court.110

Even though Sŏ's original preface praised the Ming emperor as a "benevolent sage" and celebrates "the four seas as becoming one family," the Ming's civilizing role is conspicuously absent. What follows instead is a delineation of political hierarchy descending from emperor to king to courtier that was couched in a series of linked reciprocities. The Chosŏn king and the Ming emperor complement one another in this vision of political order. And, through the mediation of the talented courtier who "brought respect to our king" and "glory to the Son of Heaven's court," the Ming's benevolent impartiality and the Chosŏn king's dutiful service to the emperor fashion one another.

Sŏ's formulation illustrates a clear alternative to how Ming observers interpreted literary exchange in diplomacy. Here, each element played a vital role in constructing the political order of empire. The Chosŏn king received his own mandate, but in this account, the courtier took center stage. It was the mediating role of the Korean literati courtier---people like Sŏ Kŏjŏng himself and his friend Pak Wŏnhyŏng---who made empire possible.

Sŏ argued that Chosŏn and the Ming derived their civilization from a common wellspring of antiquity. The Ming, as guardians of that tradition, had become the fountainhead of its transmission in the here and now, but it could not prevent the Chosŏn from also claiming a direct, independent avenue of transmission to that classical past.111 Nonetheless, in the context of envoy poetry and other diplomatic writing, that Chosŏn claim had to be attenuated with an acknowledgment of Ming claims as well. Here, Sŏ's description of the Ming treating Korea as a "feudal lord of the interior" (海內諸侯) becomes significant, not so much as a way to express Ming suzerainty, but rather as an evocation of a pre-imperial past, the age of Sage rulers and classical texts.112

These parallel narratives of "civilization," in terms of Ming influence, of the Chosŏn court's activist efforts, and of Korea's independent cultural transmission from the past, provided the interpretive lens to understand social phenomena. The case of the filial daughter of Kwaksan is illustrative. Ming envoys traveling to Seoul always passed through the town of Kwaksan 郭山 in Pyŏng'an province. There, by the roadside, they saw a stele and memorial gate (chŏngnyŏ 旌閭) erected on the orders of the Chosŏn court in 1422 to honor the memory of a filial daughter named Kim Sawŏl 金四月. Abandoned by her father as a child, Kim lived alone with a mother who suffered from seizures. When she learned that bone and flesh from a living person could heal her mother's afflictions, she cut off her finger and fed it to her mother. Her filial act apparently worked; her mother recovered.113 In 1450, the envoy Ni Qian first took notice of the monuments and dedicated a poem to her. Later Ming envoys and their Chosŏn companions followed suit.114 Chosŏn and Ming envoys were unanimous in their praise of Kim Sawŏl's virtue, but what varied was how this extraordinary act of filial devotion should be explained.

Figure 8: Kim Sawŏl cuts off her finger

"Kim Sawŏl cuts her finger." Depiction of Kim Sawŏl's filial act in the Tongguk sinsok samgang haengsildo 東國新繼三剛行實圖 f.3:21a

From the very beginning of her literary life, the filial daughter became a symbol of the civilizing projects of both the Ming and the Chosŏn courts. To Ni Qian, she testified to the "far extent" of the "civilizing transformation" of successive Ming emperors.115 Ming imperial grace, which "did not distinguish between the civilized and the barbarian"116 made Sawŏl's deeds possible. Ni's respondent, the Chosŏn official Sin Sukchu 申叔舟 (1417--1475) saw the matter differently:

....Our King affirms filial principles; Where there is good he will bring it to light. Praising the beautiful to admonish future men, He carves [these deeds ] in stone to set them apart. To set examples, so that all will have their place, Are memorial doorways, gates and posts. And so, this filial daughter--- Her fragrant name will always be exalted.

Sin Sukchu framed these lines with a celebration of Ming empire, but the agency of elevating Korean customs clearly belonged to the Chosŏn. A filial child like Kim Sawŏl validated the Chosŏn court's concerted effort to encourage Confucian practices, and not the natural consequence of the Ming's imperial influence.117 In emphasizing the act of "exaltation," Sin then inverted the outward and downward impetus of the "civilizing" logic in the Ming envoy's poem. The Chosŏn king had erected these monuments to celebrate the virtue of a commoner. By analogy, the Ming envoy's duty was also to use his privileged position as an imperial ambassador by recognize the success of the civilizing project. He exhorted the Ming envoy to write "poems that uplift customs and virtues," so that "in Korea, for a million and a myriad generations, / A clear wind will blow among the stalwart and righteous ..." (作詩樹風節 三韓億萬世 淸風吹凜烈). Sin centered Chosŏn's royal initiative while limiting the role of the Ming by assigning it only an auxiliary power of vindicating virtue through writing.

Ni and Sin set the stage for later interactions. Other envoys like Gong Yongqing continued to use Kim Sawŏl as an opportunity affirm the success of the Ming's civilizing project. Her actions showed that "imperial airs naturally extend beyond the Nine Reaches / its beneficence has reached the Eastern Vassal to this degree!"118 Ming envoys allowed for the Korean agency in this civilizing process, but usually only as a proxy to the imperial one.119 Ironically, Kim Sawŏl's act of filial devotion was more likely informed by autochthonic religious practices than motivated by Confucian mores, but that did not prevent her from being appropriated by two parallel political projects. The Chosŏn court used her memory in a state project of commemoration, while the Ming saw her as validation of its political imaginary of universal empire.120

How these nestled appropriations were constructed for Kim Sawŏl is a microcosmic analogy for underlying tensions in both the envoy writing of the Brilliant Flowers itself and Chosŏn-Ming diplomacy as a whole. Chosŏn writers reconciled these tensions by elevating them to a different register, tying a common project of literary production to classical models of antiquity. Rather than emphasize Chosŏn's role at the expense of an imperial view, they circumvented the issue by incorporating Chosŏn into the imperial vision in specific ways. The Chosŏn poet-official Yi Haeng 李荇 (1478--1534) wrote:

...Who knew that this one girl, Would alone be collected among the envoy's poems? I heard that Confucius had once upon said "Virtue will certainly have its neighbors" Though [this ] small country is a foreign land, Its people are also of the Imperial House. Its people all devote themselves, To better understand the [Sage ] King's [civilizing ] transformations.121

Declaring that Koreans were also "people .... of the imperial house" was not founded on a desire to become a Ming subject de jure, but an appeal to the universal applicability of classical civilization. The virtuous actions of Kim Sawŏl did become a demonstration of Chosŏn's commitment to the Ming imperium, but did not offer testimony to the Ming's civilizing project per se. The civilizing role of the Sage King, wanghwa (王化), sits ambiguously in the poem, equatable to the moral teachings of antiquity, the civilizing role of the reigning emperor, and the rule of the Chosŏn king. The Ming's civilizing power and Chosŏn's project of Confucianization blended together in a narrative of filiality that synthesized the two visions, obviating the need to claim primacy for one over the other.

The synthesis led to an emphasis on the literary agency of the envoy. Indeed, the envoy and his writings sometimes stole the spotlight that was ostensibly shone on the filial daughter. Yi Haeng hearkened back to Sin Sukchu's response to Ni Qian and offered the following advice to his Ming guests:

The starry chariot has traveled far---where does it go? Its path leads to the Verdant Hills [i.e Korea ] for collecting poems. Sagely Transformation has flowed to the east; every family is virtuous and righteous. Now, there is more than what [you have seen ] on Kwaksan's stele.122

The flow of civilization eastward had achieved astounding success. Kim Sawŏl was not the only virtuous figure in Korea. With examples like her everywhere, the envoy's duty was to "collect poems" and announce to the world her virtue. The envoy by, "troubling himself with a brush to write a poem," could preserve her "fragrant name" for a "thousand ages." In Yi's colleague Chŏng Saryong 鄭士龍 (1491--1570) poem, the envoy writing replaced he physical monument, the stele and memorial gate, as the ultimate testament to her virtue.123

Ming envoys looked to their predecessors when they composed their poems, but wrote always in the presence of their Chosŏn hosts. Whereas Wu Jie and Sŏ Kŏjŏng could center the agency of the Ming envoy and the Chosŏn courtier respectively, free from the gaze of their Chosŏn or Ming counterparts, the poetic practice of the Brilliant Flowers did not offer the luxury of solipsism. The diplomatic space congregated individuals with divergent views and their poetry reveals their coexistence. The writers negotiated the implicit tension between these views by relying on a series of alternating deferrals. By appropriating the filial daughter as a symbol for both the Ming and the Chosŏn's civilizing project, the poems never resolved the question of primacy. They instead converged on the literary project as the ultimate raison d'etre of empire, offering not so much a reconciliation as much as an overwriting.

Reenacting the Past: Tuning the Classical Mode

In writing about the filial daughter, Ming envoys and Chosŏn officials alike appealed to the function of writing as recognition. Such gestures not only foregrounded their own literary activities in diplomatic space, but also couched the significance of envoy literary exchange in the language of antiquity and the classical past. The envoy Xue Tingchong 薛廷寵 (fl. 1532--1539) described his paean to the filial daughter as a "song of a country's customs (Ch: guofeng) collected from a boudoir gate" (國風歌謠采閨門). The term guofeng, evoked the "Airs of the States" section in the Classic of Songs, where the customs of feudal states were collected to reflect their moral condition. Posing as a Zhou emissary who "searched all around," Xue evoked a classical model by comparing his own musings to works collected by the "music officials" of yore. Although the classical model suggested the songs were supposed to be local lyrics, not the writings of the envoy, the function of writing was the same. He was to document the beautiful customs he observed so as to encourage their continued practice.124

The evocation of the Books of Songs lends broader significance to envoy poetry, assigning a purpose to diplomatic exchange that situated it in a politics of moral transformation while making the imperial emissary the central agent in this affair. Xue's interlocutor, the Chosŏn official So Seyang responded with his own articulation of the envoy poem's significance.

...The envoy in one glance gathers the people's customs, For a myriad ages, his writing will be as the seas and mountains. In the East, the principle of filiality has been recorded since antiquity, Ever more that the Sagely Ming now tends the jade candle. The "Cry of Fishhawks" begins: the origin of civilization; Women have their proper behavior and men follow their model. If one wants to present this in detail to the Son of Heaven, Without writing (斯文), with what other means does one describe? If you are to investigate all of the Eastern Kingdom, You will find that is not only Kwaksan that has such sites!125

This appeal to the envoy's professed duties of representation reminded the envoy that Korea, the "East," had always been a place suffused with civilization. Kim Sawŏl was not a recent anomaly. Only by accurately representing these facts could the envoy do justice to the Eastern Kingdom. So's articulation intertwined this appeal with his own evocation of the Books of Songs---by mentioning the "Cry of the Fishawks" (guanjiu 關雎), the first poem of the Airs of the States (Ch: guofeng 國風), but the role of this allusion served an altogether different purpose.126 While the hierarchical implications of this analogy---the Ming as the Zhou, and the Chosŏn as a vassal state---were clear, it also revived the image of the classical, ideal past in the current world, actualized through Korea's own efforts. So Seyang credited the Ming with tending the light of civilization, but it was a civilization that began with the literature of the Book of Songs. In this rendition, the Ming's role was severely curtailed. It was neither the agent of the civilizing process in Korea nor the fountainhead of civilization. The former honor went to the Chosŏn court and the latter belonged to the Sages of antiquity.

Turning to literature as the origin of civilization converted the political relationship between the Chosŏn and the Ming into one that served a purpose larger than the relationship itself. Their activities were to be part and parcel of a grand reenactment of the classical past. In what has been described as "using literature to adorn the state" (munjang hwa guk 文章華國), the literary here circumscribes the political within the moral and the aesthetic, where the literary tasks of the envoy became the express purpose of diplomacy itself.127 The emphasis also shifts from the empire's civilizing function to the envoy's role as a producer of literature. This combination of tropes, the literary resolution to the embedded tension between parallel narratives of the civilizing process and the evocation of classical models, was not unique to the poems of the filial daughter. It also echoed other attempts in the Brilliant Flowers to tie Chosŏn to classical antiquity. Sŏ Kŏjŏng's preface to the 1476 Brilliant Flowers offers a case in point:128

When the Kingly Way flourishes,the Odes and Hymns are composed, and so the traces of perfect rule can thus be investigated. In the past, during the height of the Zhou, the poems of Daming, Huangyi, Yupu, Zaolu129 were enough to elucidate prosperity and beauty and renewed the [literary ] creations of an era. And so, [the Zhou ] employed officials to collect poems, and even the minor [works ] of the Kui and Cao states, were still placed at the end of the Airs of the various feudal states. This only goes to show that poetry ought never be neglected. After all, si-poetry, originated from the reality of one's emotions and sentiments exuding from between exclamations and sighs.130 Among them there are those that [involve ] the higher exhorting those below and those below eulogizing those above. A cultivated gentleman should especially make use of what is relevant to the civilizing of the world and is in accordance to the correctness of the Airs and Odes.131 The Imperial Ming reigns over the world and [its influence ] spreads within and beyond the seas, and none do not become its vassal. We the Chosŏn have received civilizing influence (sŏnggyo/shengjiao) for generations and our poetry, documents, ritual, and music possess the manner of manifest civility from antiquity.132

In this articulation of poetry's indispensability, Sŏ established a series of correspondences. The Ming is analogous to the the Zhou, when the poems of the Book of Songs were composed and collected. The envoys sent from the Ming to the Chosŏn are the poetry collecting officials of the past. Chosŏn is analogous to the feudal states of antiquity, but with one caveat--- while Cao and Kui are insignificant states, Chosŏn maintained a direct link to the classical past, a point significant for understanding the rhetorical power of this preface.

Sŏ invoked the classical paradigm of poetry as expression of authentic sentiment to speak to its ability to reflect the governance of the times. Good poetry emerged from good times---the Ming, overseeing an age of virtue was no exception. The Chosŏn produced good poetry, because it had received "civilizing influences" (sŏnggyo) for generations. The civilizing influence here, again, is ambiguous. It could originate from the Ming, but the deep time the preface evokes, and his assertion that Chosŏn inherited the legacies of antiquity could also mean that the civilizing influence came directly from classics. In this preface, the arrival of these envoys was less an expression of Ming influence, than it was a reiteration of the normative status of classical ideals embodied in their symbolic re-enactment. Explicit evocations of the classical paradigms of the Great Preface of the Book of Songs thus granted diplomacy an ulterior purpose:

The Sagely Son of Heaven has emerged to carry on the Mandate of Heaven, and his light ascends to jeweled throne. And now, he invests his imperial successor and reveals the matter to all-under-heaven, sending the Section Director Qi Shun of the Board of Revenue and Vice Left Officer of the Messenger Office, Zhang Jin to come to our country. Both these sirs, of temperate and generous constitution and with gallant and majestic talents, performed their envoy duties with grace and magnanimity. During days of leisure they condescended to the level plains and looked at the surrounding scenery. With their own lips, they sang about all things they observed with their eyes from mountains and rivers, the lay of the land, the people's mores and the customs of the country. When they finished their songs, their rhythm was like an ensemble of ocarinas and flutes, their beats were like the resonance of metal and stone [instruments ]. Their gallant verses and majestic works grow ever marvelous with each. Their intent to observe the airs and investigate the customs is resplendent in each of their works. [I ], Kŏjŏng, obeying my king's command, served as a welcoming envoy. I accompanied them to and from from the Yalu [Anmnok ] River. I waited with staff and clog [i.e. to be in the embassy's entourage ] for nearly forty days. It was fortunate that I have also acquired some pieces of their verse exchanges. After the two gentlemen departed, His Majesty [King Sŏngjong ] wished to consign their poems to undecaying perpetuity and commanded the Compiler's Bureau to Print them in order to praise [the envoys' ] deeds.133

What is remarkable is how briefly Sŏ mentions the overt purpose of the envoy mission--- the symbolic proclamation of Ming overlordship by announcing the investiture of the new Ming heir apparent--- and how quickly he shifts the focus to the role of the envoys, not as transmitters of imperial intent, but collectors of knowledge about Korea. In this prescription, poetry should not be the idle musings of the belles-letterist, but a vehicle for producing morally edifying resonances. It also tailored the moral purpose of the literary to fit the political positional of the Ming envoy. To be a good envoy was to deploy one's literary talents, not so much to proclaim Ming rule, but to represent Korea. While ostensibly a service for the literary reputations of these Ming envoys, the printing of the Brilliant Flowers co-opted Ming envoy desires for literary reputation to construct a platform for Chosŏn's own self-representation.

To be sure, Sŏ Kŏjŏng deftly wove these prerogatives together, using the language of the classics as a unifying thread. Classical antecedents here did not translate into a monolithic vision of the envoy and his relationship to poetry; instead they are borrowed to align the envoy mission with Chosŏn's own interest in auto-ethnography and self-representation. Sŏ Kŏ-jŏng draws from the lines of the original "Brilliant Are the Flowers" in the Book of Songs, employing them as an affective image (興) describing the efflorescent landscape traveled by the envoy. Sŏ explains the relationship between the envoy poem and the Book of Songs,

The Three Hundred pieces of the Book of Songs were of antiquity. The poems "Four Steeds" and the "Brilliant Flowers" were all composed by envoys.134 The poems say, "With the ruler's duty as my charge, I have not leisure to rest" and "galloping my horses on and urging them on, I inquire everywhere." Those who receive the commands of the Son of Heaven, drives his four steeds [i.e. a chariot ] and gallops them on the plains, [anxious ] that he does not reach his destination. Those who proclaim the beneficence from above and represent the situation from below with inquiries and observations should exert himself whereever possible. It is in this that the official envoy is virtuous. And, through this the Odes of the Zhou have flourished. Now, the talent and virtue of these two gentlemen are exactly that of official envoy in the Odes of the Zhou. Their poems are the lingering resonances of the "Four Steeds" and the "Brilliant Flowers" How could these not be arrayed among the creations of the Imperial Ming? Once these two gentlemen have returned, we present these pieces to the Son of Heaven and spread these songs, in order to carry on the upright [legacies ] of the Odes of Zhou.135

The envoy of present conflated the envoy-composer in the "Four Steeds" and the "Brilliant are the Flowers" with the collator of the Airs of the States. He was both a composer of poems, expressing his own feelings, and a collector of knowledge, responsible for transmitting the sentiments of the locales he visits to the imperial throne. In Sŏ's formulation, the true object of the envoy's poetry was Korea. By praising and representing Korea to the imperial house, the envoy was not simply reporting ethnographic information, but participating in the moral and political edification of the empire.

Sŏ Kŏjŏng was not unique for insisting that observing local conditions should be the envoy's central task.136 Ming envoys had appreciated the significance of their place within this poetic discourse. When Chosŏn officials and Ming envoys played to this classical model in these encomiums of Ming empire, Ming authority is in turn legitimated by making Ming envoys analogues to their counterparts of yore. In other words, Ming authority is mediated by its relationship to the classical past. This mediation was a fundamental qualification of Ming authority; for now, political recognition of the Ming's superiority was contingent on an ascription of classical normativity to the Ming emperor and his state, and not an automatic and unequivocal acceptance of Ming authority per se.

In this and other prefaces to the Brilliant Flowers, the legacy of antiquity becomes the touchstone for assessing the moral and political authority of Ming empire, either as an ideal for emulation, or a lofty example to be surpassed. For this correspondence between the Ming and the classical past to work, another correspondence had to be established. Chosŏn had to be equated to the feudal states of antiquity:

And so, even though our country is small, it possesses the marvel of Kija's enduring spirit. That which has been recorded was certainly not inferior to the Airs of the Kui and Cao. For this reason, the magnanimity of the Sage Son of Heaven, magnanimous, does not abuse distant men as barbarians, our King is in awe of heaven and serves the greater state with utmost sincerity, the two gentlemen carry themselves with the proper bearing of emissaries. [And ], we, Korea (Tonghan 東韓), are steeped in the civilizing influence that has flowed to us. All of these are praised by metal [bells ] and stone [chimes ], ringing and resonating to bring them eternal glory. How fortunate it is for me to have seen the Greater Odes be revived today!137

Sŏ Kŏjŏng claimed for Chosŏn an unbroken line of descent from the classical past. Envoy poetry granted eternal recognition for the Ming's universal and impartial rule, Chosŏn's loyalty to it, the envoys' virtue, and Chosŏn's civilizational achievements, but it all hinged on Chosŏn's possessing the "marvel of Kija's enduring spirit." For Sŏ Kŏjŏng, the Ming's connection to classical past was authenticated by the participation of the Chosŏn court. Playing the vassal state of yore, it offered the Ming and its envoys an opportunity to reenact a classical ideal, one which, Chosŏn had access to, not via the Ming, but through its own line of transmission in Kija.138

Sŏ Kŏjŏng's preface was unique in how succinctly and forcefully it asserted Chosŏn's claim to antiquity and its role in co-constructing Ming empire. Other preface writers, before and after, were more muted on these points, but neither did they shy from radical statements. The Neo-Confucian scholar Yi Hwang wrote a preface to the 1568 anthology that integrated these two perspectives. He described the special imperial favor granted to the Chosŏn to be a result of its "generations of loyal behavior, apparent in its observance of a vassal's duties" (我東世篤忠藎 明修侯度). But, even as he acknowledged the"eastward flow" of civilization, he asserted that:

The Eastern Kingdom, with territories heaven-drawn, occupied a place far by the sea's edge. It was, however, the place where Kija was enfeoffed and the place where Confucius had desired to live. It has long deserved to be called [a place of ] ritual, righteousness, and manifest civility.139

Yi Hwang has been described as being a proponent of strict adherence to the "tribute system" on the basis of "moral righteousness."140 The assertion of Chosŏn's relations with the Ming in terms of moral obligation in this preface, however, was accompanied by an unequivocal affirmation of Chosŏn's own cultural attainments, one admired by Confucius himself. Integrated with this rhetoric of political hierarchy was a claim of cultural parity, not one recently achieved, but one sustained for generations. The moral order that legitimized the Chosŏn's vassal status vis-a-vis the Ming was also what allowed them to be equals in civilization to the Ming Chinese.


The panegyrics to empire in the Brilliant Flowers were a joint production between Ming envoys and the Chosŏn officials who accompanied them through their sojourn in Korea. Chosŏn poet-officials, by matching the rhymes of Ming guests, echoed not only the sounds of the Ming poets, but also their sentiments and observations. Every generation, a new cohort of court literati convened to revisit spaces once trod by their predecessors, recycling their old rhymes, tropes and themes. Their intercourse intimately bound the social up with the political. Together, they fashioned a vision of empire that was calibrated to the political and cultural claims of the Chosŏn court and the interests of the Ming poet-envoy.

A close reading of the poems in the Brilliant Flowers within their social context in mind not only reveals the coproduction of imperial ideology, but also exposes numerous places of fracture and contention within it. Alongside narratives of the Ming's civilizing influence spreading to Korea were also assertions of Chosŏn's coevality with the Ming. This observation is particularly startling, given the genre's role in asserting Chosŏn Korea's political fealty to the Ming. Even with the repetition of hackneyed tropes, these poems envisioned empire in a manner that accounted for diverse ways Korea, the Ming, and narratives of the civilizing process should fit together. Instead of a seamless reconciliation, what resulted from these negotiations was an overwriting, where the invocation of a common classical tradition could sustain an appeal to the Ming's moral empire.

The sublimation of these divergent views needed to work only long enough to maintain a temporary coherence. Once the banquets and pleasure outings ended, and the envoy-poets returned to their respective native spaces, they were free to think as they would, though often bringing with them a piece of the grand, if ephemeral, production they helped enact. None of the representations of empire was inherently true, though each participant may have had their own preferred narratives.141 Nevertheless, the social and literary character of the Brilliant Flowers could accommodate simultaneously different and even theoretically mutually exclusive narratives of sovereignty. Literary practice, then, was not simply a medium for representing empire through interpretation, but essential for sustaining it as a construct.

Literary accommodation was essential because empire is not one, unchanging thing, but rather a host of moving parts. At stake was not the legitimacy of the Ming's claim to empire per se, but the configuration of the claim, precisely how questions of territoriality, civilization, the ecumene, political authority, and the emperor as sovereign are connected. This chapter has focused on the contentions surrounding the civilizing process and Chosŏn Korea's attempt to claim cultural parity with the Ming in front of a Ming audience. One of the undergirding narratives was the elevation of mun/wen, civil and literary virtue that could measure prestige and attainments in terms of mastery of letters. The elevation of the literary moment, however, did not mean that other issues associated with empire-making, such as military power, territorial conquest, and the broader imperial tradition were irrelevant. The next chapter, on envoy poetry and the city of P'yŏngyang, will show how all these issues---history, conquest, and territory---came to be embroiled in the contentions subsumed in the Brilliant Flowers and its tradition of envoy poetry. To fully understand these issues, we must leave the pages of the Brilliant Flowers, and return again to the social moments and physical spaces where its poems were composed.

1 Kim T'aeyŏng 金泰永, "Chosŏn ch'ogi Sejo wanggwŏn ŭi chŏnchesŏng e taehan ilkoch'al 朝鮮초기 世祖王權의 專制性에 대한 一考察," Han'guk sa yŏn'gu, no. 87 (December 1994): 117--46; Sohn Pow-key, "Social History of the Early Yi Dynasty 1392-1592," 47--48.
2 Sejo's father, Sejong, had refused to perform these rites because it was an "usurpation of ritual." Sejong sillok 34:6b [1426/11/07 #1 ]; 101:6b [1443/07/10 #3 ]; 105:9b [1444/07/20 #1 ]. Sejo eventually abolished the heaven worshiping ritual in 1464. For problems associated with this ritual, see Se-Woong Koo, "Reaching for the Sky: The Early Chosŏn Celestial Cult and Dynastic Legitimation," Manuscript.
3 For a transformative view of ritual, see Bell, Ritual Perspectives and Dimensions, 72--76. See also Bell's discussion of practice in 76--77.
4 Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959), pp. 10--19, 22--32.
5 A study of the Brilliant Flowers, can sustain many angles of interpretation besides this one, especially since it until now only been treated in passing in previous scholarship. The two major exceptions are Du Huiyue's Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian yu "Huanghuaji" and Sin T'ae-yŏng's Myŏng nara sasin ŭn Chosŏn ŭl ottŏk e poannŭnga: 'Hwanghwajip' yŏn'gu', the two most extensive discussions of the Brilliant Flowers to date. The Brilliant Flowers have recently been collated by Zhao Ji and published in a modern print edition, which will surely encourage scholarly interest. Zhao Ji 趙季, Zuben Huanghua ji 足本皇華集 (Nanjing: Fenghuang chubanshe, 2013).
6 An Changni 안장리, "Chosŏn chŏngi 'Hwanghwajip' mit Myŏng sasin ŭi Chosŏn kwallyŏn sŏjok ch'ulp'an e taehan yŏn'gu 朝鮮 前期 『皇華集 』 및 明使臣의 朝鮮關聯書籍 出版에 대한 연구," Kugŏ kyoyuk 107 (2002): 347--71, esp. pp. 360--361.
7 Sin T'aeyŏng 申太永, "Hwanghwajip ŭi P'yŏnch'an ŭisik yŏn'gu - Sŏmun ŭl Chungsim ŭro 皇華集 의 편찬의식 연구 - 서문을 중심으로 -," Hanmun hakpo 5 (2001): 115--144; Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, 70--88.
8 This number includes one anthology published retroactively for a 1450 mission. For the publication history of the 1450 Brilliant Flowers see Kim Kihwa 김기화, "'Hwanghwajip' ŭi p'yŏnch'an kwa kanhaeng e kwanhan yŏn'gu"「皇華集」의 編纂과 刊行에 관한 연구, Sŏjihak yŏn'gu 39 (June 2008): 201--53. Although the earliest envoy mission with a Hwanghwajip anthology is from 1450, it was actually recompiled and printed later, making the 1457 anthology the earliest.
9 Tabulations vary. Sin T'aeyŏng only counts 3200 individual pieces of writing. Zhao Ji counts 6289 poems, 20 fu-rhapsodies, and 217 pieces of prose. Their difference may owe to whether poems that are written in one suite are counted multiple times. Sin also did not have access to the 1620 Brilliant Flowers, which has been more recently rediscovered. Poetry constitutes the bulk of the writing, but the prose sections are more extensive than these numbers suggest, because many poems come with lengthy paratexts not counted in Zhao's tabulation. Sin T'aeyŏng 申太永, Myŏng nara sasin ŭn Chosŏn ŭl ottŏk e poannŭnga: 'Hwanghwajip' yŏn'gu" 명 나라 사신 은 조선 을 어떻게 보았는가: "皇華集" 硏究 (Seoul: Taunsaem 2005), 1--5; Zhao Ji, Zuben Huanghua ji, pp. 3--4).
10 The Yŏngjo edition is nearly completely preserved in both the Berkeley C.V. Starr Asami collection and the Kyujanggak Archives. A number of 15th and early 16th century versions were reproduced in the early 17th century following the Imjin War. These two versions are the most common versions available in libraries around the world. Many of the editions available in libraries in China, however, were original editions, possibly bequeathed to the Ming envoys and their contemporaries and are reproduced in volume 301, in part 4 (集部) of the Siku quanshu cunmun congshu 四庫全書存目叢書 (hereafter the SKCM). Zhao Ji's Zuben Huanghua ji (hereafter the ZBHHJ), a modern redaction, is the most complete version, but as such, does not preserve the original typography. Brilliant Flowers will be cited according to the year of the envoy mission, followed by the abbreviation for Hwanghwajip (HHJ) and the location in the relevant edition for the citation, i.e. 1488 HHJ. I cite the most widely available original reproductions where possible, i.e. the published SKCM reprints and the Asami version online, followed by the ZBHHJ pages. For Yŏnjo's reprinting of the Brilliant Flowers, see Sŭngjŏngwŏn ilgi 承政院日記 v. 1340 Yŏngjo 49 [1773/6/5, 6/6, 6/11, 6/12, 6/28, 8/3, 8/7, 8/8, 8/10. ] For Ming reverence in late Chosŏn, see Sun Weiguo 孫衛國, Da Ming qihao, 50--62; Saeyoung Park, "Sacred Spaces and the Commemoration of War in Choson Korea" (Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2011). For extant original editions of the HHJ, see Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, 279--280.
11 Chief among these extant travelogues are the writings of the 1450 envoy Ni Qian, the 1460 envoy Zhang Ning, the 1488 envoy Dong Yue, the 1537 envoy Gong Yongqing, the 1606 envoy Zhu Zhifan and the 1626 envoy Jiang Yuekuang. Yin Mengxia 殷夢霞, and Yu Hao 于浩, eds. Shi Chaoxian lu 使朝鮮錄. Beijing: Beijing tushuguan chuban she, 2003. Such writings often enter the personal literary anthologies of these envoys, as was the case for the 1476 envoy Qi Shun and the 1568 envoy Xu Guo. See Qi Shun 祁順, Xunchuan Qi Xiansheng wenji 巽川祁先生文集, vol. 37, in SKCM pt. 4 (Zaizi tang 在茲堂刻本, 1655); Xu Guo 許國, Xu Wenmu gong quan ji er shi juan 許文穆公全集 二十卷, (China: Wanxiang tang 畹香堂藏板, 1625); Gong Yongqing 龔用卿, "Yun'gang Gong Wen Ji [17 Juan ] 雲岡公文集 十七卷," Manuscript (藍格舊鈔本), (n.d.), Mf 9101/5565 (12018), Princeton University, East Asian Collection. See also Philip de Heer, "Three Embassies to Seoul" for a discussion of Ni, Zhang and Dong's accounts. Ming envoy travelogues are examined in detail in Kim Han'gyu 金翰奎, Sa Chosŏnnok yŏn'gu: Song, Myŏng, Chŏng, Sidae Chosŏn sahaengnok ŭi saryojŏk kach'i 사조선록 연구: 송, 명, 청 시대 조선 사행록 의 사료적 가치 (Seoul: Sŏgang taehakkyo ch'ulp'anbu, 2011).
12 For example, Sŏ Kŏjŏng's P'irwŏn chapki, Sŏng Hyŏn's Yongjae ch'onghwa, and Ŏ Sukkwŏn's P'aegwan chapki are some examples.
13 Du Huiyue and others have used the emergence of the Brilliant Flowers to periodize Chosŏn-Ming relations into three different regimes of diplomacy. Ming diplomatic practice during the Hongwu-Jianwen reigns (1368--1404) was directed personally by the emperor, who primarily relied on literati officials to carry out diplomacy. The Yongle to Tianshun periods (1404--1449), on the other hand, were dominated by Ming eunuchs, many of them Korean born. After the Jingtai-Zhengtong reigns (1450--1464), which coincides with the rise of envoy poetry and the debacle of Tumu, the center of gravity shifted again to Ming literati. See Ye Quanhong, Mingdai qianqi Zhonghan guojiao, 122, 125--126, 131--134, 146; de Heer, "Three Embassies to Seoul," 250--256; Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, 66--69, 80--89.
14 Sun Weiguo 孫衛國, "Lun Mingchu de huanguan waijiao 論明初的宦官外交," Nankai xuebao, no. 2 (1994): 34--42; "Shi shuo Ming dai Xingren 試說明代行人," Shixue jikan, no. 1 (1994): 11--16.
15 Eunuchs still played an important, though circumscribed role, in diplomacy. Literati envoys only led missions that proclaimed matters of important to the imperial dynasty: accession of emperors and the investment of a Ming heir apparent. Eunuchs still led embassies for investing Korean rulers or bequeathing gifts and titles to the Chosŏn royal clan. A literati emissary, however, came to accompany these missions as the vice-envoy and engaged in poetry exchange with Chosŏn officials, excluding his eunuch superior.
16 See discussion in Chapter 3.
17 I discuss the history of envoy poetry in Korea prior to the Brilliant Flowers, along with an extensive discussion on the social functions of envoy poetry in a manuscript in progress, "A Social History of the Korean Envoy Poem (1200--1600)."
18 A dozen or so poems addressed to Koryŏ envoys or written about Jin embassies to Koryŏ are collected in the Hanyuan Yinghua Zhongzhou ji 翰苑英華中州集 compiled by Yuan Haowen 元好問 after the fall of the Jin. A few pieces from the literary collection of the Jin writer Wang Ji 王寂 (1128--1194) also survive. The notes to Wang Ji's poems in the Zhongzhou ji point also a travelogue titled Record of a Journey to the Yalu River (Yajiang xingji 鴨江行記) attributed to Yan Zixiu 閻子秀, which is no longer extent. Wang Ji wrote a Yalu xingbu zhi 鴨江行部志, which was collected in the Yongle Encyclopedia and even cited as late as the mid Qing. Only small portions of it survive. See Chang Tong'ik, Wŏndae Yŏsa charyo chimnok, 347--360, esp. p. 348; Jin Yufu 金毓紱, Liaohai Congshu 遼海叢書 (Shenyang: Liaoshen shushe, 1985), 2540.
19 Dane Alston has translated and discussed these poems in his article "Emperor and Emissary: The Hongwu Emperor, Kwŏn Kŭn, and the Poetry of Late Fourteenth Century Diplomacy," Korean Studies 32 (2008): 101--147. See also p. 105; They are also extant in Kwŏn's collected works, the Yangch'on chip f.1 in HMC v.7 14--21b. The Chosŏn court continued to show the original copies of the imperial poems Kwŏn Kŭn brought back to later Ming envoys, many of whom left their own inscriptions celebrating the affair. See e.g. Sejo sillok 19:33a [1460/03/07 #1 ]; Zhang Ning, Fengshi lu, 16-17. The Veritable Records also includes examples of Ming envoys exchanging poems with the Chosŏn ruler, but early Ming envoys were often reluctant to exchange poems with Korean officials. See e.g. T'aejong sillok 4:18b [1402/10/26 #2 ].Literary exchange was also an important part of late Chosŏn diplomacy with Japan, but this matter is beyond the scope of this study.
20 For instance, Ni Qian 倪謙, Liaohai bian 遼海編, 1469 edition, Reprinted in Shi Chaoxian lu (Beijing: Beijing tushuguan chuban she, 2003).
21 The extant anthologies of Chosŏn envoys included poetry, but usually only preserved their half of the exchanges with Ming officials and scholars. For an example see, Yi Sŭngso, Samdan sŏnsaeng chip f.2, 6, 8 in HMC v.11. As a point of comparison, the Vietnamese envoy poetry was too compiled and published by Vietnamese envoys themselves. Liam C. Kelley, Beyond the Bronze Pillars : Envoy Poetry and the Sino-Vietnamese Relationship (Honolulu: Association for Asian Studies : University of Hawai'i Press, 2005).
22 Shijing, Mao #163. Similar titles were also used in Vietnamese envoy poetry collections. See Liam Kelley, Beyond the Bronze Pillars, 68, 233.
23 See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London; New York: Verso, 1991), 15. Since Anderson speaks specifically about the construction of national identities in the 19th century, I use this term quite loosely. Other scholars of East Asia have preferred the wording of Sheldon Pollock and use the term "cosmopolis" to describe this phenomenon. See Sheldon I Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men, 1--75. What is important to note is that in this "imagined community" differed from the Sansrkit "cosmopolis" in its ethnocentrism. The exclusivity of Chinese imperial claims to civilization meant that Koreans, Japanese, Vietnamese and Ryūkyūans who sought to lay claim to it had to face significant intellectual and cultural challenges, not least of all, reorienting its ethnocentric underpinnings so that it could be amenable to appropriation by those the imperial center considered to be beyond the pale. For a discussion of this struggle in medieval Korea, see Cha, "The Civilizing Project in Medieval Korea," 56--93.
24 Stephen Owen, "Omen in the World: Meaning in the Chinese Lyric," Traditional Chinese Poetry and Poetics (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1985), 27--29.
25 To date, Du offers the most extensive and authoritative body of work on the Brilliant Flowers. Her detailed analysis of its poems and its historical contextualization mainly serve a literary history, where the influence of Ming poetic trends on Chosŏn poetry writing is the main analytical thrust. In her analysis of its historical significance, Du generally sees the Brilliant Flowers as a reflection of "tributary relations." Indeed, reading the poems of the Brilliant Flowers as examples of Korean sadae ideology or Korea's "sincere" devotion to the Ming is the dominant hermeunetical strategy at work in most previous literary studies on the Brilliant Flowers. According to Sin Tae-yŏng, the relative obscurity of these texts in Korean languages studies is precisely tied to its connection with sadae ideology, because their existence jibes against nationalist sentiments and is perceived as shameful. Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, esp. 256--263; Sin T'aeyŏng 申太永, "Hwanghwajip ŭi p'yŏnch'an ŭisik yŏn'gu - sŏmun ŭl chungsim ŭro 皇華集 의 편찬의식 연구 - 서문을 중심으로 -," Hanmun hakpo 5 (2001): 118)
26 Stephen Owen, Readings in Chinese Literary Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1992), 37--44.
27 This discourse particularly affects the poetry of court poets. The reception of the late Tang poet Wen Tingyun 溫庭筠 (812--870), known for his crafted, is a case in point. Paul F. Rouzer, Writing Another's Dream: The Poetry of Wen Tingyun (Stanford University Press, 1993), 1--26.
28 Peter H. Lee, A History of Korean Literature (Oxford, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 316--322. Despite these detractions, most 15th century Korean scholar-officials devoted a considerable amount of energy to poetry writing. A cursory examination of early Chosŏn collections of the writings of individual authors (munjip 文集) show both the preponderance and preeminence of verse genres, like the si, over prose writing. In many anthologies, the si-poem alone occupies half of the fascicles. Not only is si the most frequently represented kind of writing, it invariably is included in the front of such anthologies, suggesting also their relative significance. On the other hand, poetry in classical Chinese has largely been neglected by Anglophone scholarship on premodern Korea. This neglect reflects the predilections of modern scholars and not of its level of relevance to early Chosŏn elite society. The embeddedness and ubiquity of poetry writing in Chosŏn elite life may explain the ubiquity apologies for its practice by serious Confucian moralists. Neo-Confucian scholars like Kim Chongjik (金宗直 1431--1492) tried to reconcile literary practice with the broader program of Confucian learning, though he still dismissed literature as a "minor skill" (小技) of "little importance" (末端). Later proponents followed suit by arguing that it was consonant with the principles of Neo-Confucian thought, and thus a viable channel for its moral program. In this conception of poetry, it was no longer "an autonomous art," but "a by-product of Human Nature and Principle Learning" (sŏngnihak/ xinglixue, i.e. Neo-Confucianism 性理學).
29 Benjamin A. Elman, A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China (Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2000), 23.
30 Peter H. Lee, A History of Korean Literature, citing Chungjong sillok 40:46b.
31 Sŏngjong sillok 122:9a [1480/10/26 #3 ].
32 Ming envoys, for example, often called into question the sincerity of the Chosŏn court's allegiance to the Ming, especially in times of crisis. See for example Ni Qian, Chaoxian jishi 朝鮮紀事, pp. 6--7.
33 In addition to poems written to Chosŏn high officials, Ming envoys also penned poems of parting to lower ranking members of the Chosŏn entourage as gifts. They addressed these poems to Chosŏn interpreters, medical officials and other members of the Korean reception committee, thanking them for their company.
34 Scholars have generally read "rhyme-matching" as kind of ritualized exchange to satisfy political needs. For example, see Kim Wŏnjun, "Chosa wa ŭi ch'aunsi e nat'anan Chipong ŭi ŭisik- Chipong ŭi 'Hwanghwajip Ch'aun' ŭl t'onghae 詔使와의 次韻詩에 나타난 芝峯의 意識-지봉의「皇華集次韻」을 통해-," Hanminjok Ŏmunhak 44 (June 2004): 230--269, esp. p. 237.
35 I would like to thank Professor Yi Chongmuk (이종묵) at Seoul National University for pointing this out to me during one of our conversations. Examples of rhyme matching are ubiquitous in this anthology. These issues are discussed further in Chapter 6.
36 For a comprehensive discussion genres and forms represented in the Brilliant Flowers, see Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, 133--180.
37 Note the many expressions of personal friendship in these texts. For instance, see the 1521 envoy Tang Gao 唐皋's parting poem to Yi Haeng 李荇 or the friendship between the Chosŏn official Pak Ch'ungwŏn 朴忠元 and the Ming envoys from 1568 and 1573. See "Bidding Farewell to State Councilor," Minister Yi 別李參贊國相 in HHJ 1521 f.6:37a in SKCM pt.4 v.301:427a--b (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 539); Chungjong sillok f.43:49b [1521/12/23 #1 ] and Shihua conglin, p. 154; 1573 HHJ f.1:32b--33a in SKCM pt.4 v.301:795a--b (ZBHHJ v.2, pp. 206--207).
38 Ŏ and Lee, A Korean Storyteller's Miscellany; P'aegwan chapki f.1--4 in TDYS f.4, v.1:728--784.
39 See Sŏ Kŏjŏng 徐居正, P'irwŏn chapgki 筆苑雜記 f.2 in TDYS f.3, v.2:685--686. The celebrated rivalry between Sŏ Kŏjŏng and the 1476 envoy Qi Shun provides a case in point. See Sŏng Hyŏn 成俔, Yongjae ch'onghwa 慵齋叢話 f.1 in TDYS f.1, v.1:567--570.
40 This identification should not be taken for granted. For example, the 1449 envoy Ni Qian's Liaohai Bian omits most of the writing by his Korean counterparts. When the text came to be known in Korea, Chosŏn literati such as Sŏ Kŏjŏng felt slighted by Ni's "attempt to make himself look better by highlighting his own poetry over that of great Chosŏn writers." Pirwŏn chapki f.2, TDYS f.3, v.1:686.
41 Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, 98--99; Hong Manjong 洪萬宗 and Chŏ Sŏngjik 趙成植, Shihua conglin jianzhu (Sihwa ch'ongnim) 詩話叢林箋注, ed. Zhao Ji 赵季 (Tianjin: Nankai daxue chubanshe, 2006), 225.
42 An example of the coding of hierarchy is visible in the typesetting of the text itself. References to the Ming, the emperor and his court, are always set off in a new line and raised two spaces above the margin. References to the Chosŏn ruler, however, was only raised one space, which was the same level of recognition accorded to the Ming emissary.
43 Chosŏn writing often took special note when this desired parity was recognized. Kim Arro 金安老 (1488--1537) celebrated Sŏ Kŏjŏng's single-minded resolve in matching the Ming envoy Qi Shun's writing verse to verse. Qi, on his departure, was reputed to have told Sŏ Kŏjŏng that his literary talents would rank among the top three or four "even in China." When the 1567 envoy Xu Guo was impressed with a piece of Korean writing, exclaimed that "how could it be possible that your country can produce a poem [of ] this [quality? ]" (爾國安有如此之詩?). Chosŏn observers noted the "condescension" towards Korea implied in this remark, but still accepted it as a mark of praise. Yongch'ŏntam chŏkki in TDYS v.3; Hong Manjong, Shihua conglin, 59; 153. As this dissertation has shown in Chapter 2, the Chosŏn struggled with the occasional Ming tendency to dismiss Koreans simply as another "barbarian" people.
44 Yu Mong'in 柳夢寅, Yŏu yadam 於于野譚 f.3 in Yŏu chip 於于集 (Seoul: Kyŏngmun sa 景文社, 1979), 105: 自古中國文士小我邦人 數百年來沿路數千里無一篇我國詩懸于壁者 ....
45 The only writer Yu found praiseworthy was Yi Haeng, but his "tone was too submissive, and his writing feels like something written for a civil service exam." Yu Mong'in, Yŏu yadam f.3, 106--107; see also, Hong Manjong, Sihua conglin, 271--272: 我國待華使 鳩集一時之文人稍能詩者以酬應 而擇焉而不精 貽笑天人 何恨鄭士龍雖稱騷將 而其詩全無成篇 疵病自露 獨李荇渾然成章 而調格甚卑 有類應科之文 每作暫時仰屋 應手沛然 而其對宛轉無疵 非嫺熟於平素不能.
46 Qian Qianyi, Youxueji 有學集 f.46, in Qian Muzhai quanji 錢牧齋全集, 1527--1528. 東國文體平衍 詞林諸公不惜貶調就之 以寓柔遠之意 故絕少瑰麗之詞.
47 Such a statement was undoubtedly what Yu had in mind when he spoke of the condescension of Ming literati. Indeed, Qian's assessment of the Brilliant Flowers did later earn the ire of later Korean readers. See "Loyalty, History and Empire: Qian Qianyi and His Korean Biographies." Manuscript in submission.
48 Yu Mong'in did not have a single unqualified praise for the literary abilities of Ming envoys who arrived. He summarily dismissed their abilities, often balancing reluctant praise with sharp criticisms. For example, Zhang Ning was said to write with "clarity and elegance" but suffered from "softness and feebleness." Yu Mong'in, Yŏu Yadam f.3, 105--106, see also, Hong Manjong, Shihua conglin,271--272: 皇華集非傳世之書 必不顯 於中國使臣之作 不問美惡 我國不敢揀斥 受而刊之 我國稱天使能者必曰龔用卿 而問之朱之蕃 不曾聞姓名 祈順 唐皋錚錚矯矯 而亦非詩家哲匠 張寧稍清麗 而軟脆無指 終於小家 朱之蕃之詩駁雜無象 反不如熊天使化之萎弱 其餘何足言.
49 The very same features that left them ignored in formations of literary canon likely also contributed to their relative obscurity as historical sources. To date, only a handful of articles have been written about these texts. Sin Taeyŏng's monograph in Korean and Du Huiyue's in Chinese, both studies of literary history, are the only full-length studies that substantively engage with this text. This neglect by historians is remarkable given the sheer volume of historical scholarship devoted to Sino-Korean relations as a whole. It is also understandable, given the dominance of diplomatic and political history in this field. The Brilliant Flowers offers little in the way of diplomatic or political history. Most poems were written within the conventions of imperial encomium, and social poetry, with its penchant for social platitudes and generic tropes rarely offer information that could not be otherwise discovered in other sources, such as Ming envoy travel writing or the detailed accounts of Ming embassies in the Chosŏn Veritable Records. The limitations of the Brilliant Flowers Anthology as a conventional historical source are exactly what make it a fruitful site for the kind of approach I propose here.
50 The Chosŏn court observed the Ming calendar and showed deference to the Ming emperor, raising words such as "imperial," "emperor," and "heaven" to indicate the Ming's superiority. Elsewhere Qian linked these practices to the Korea's "reverence for proper lunation and [the empire ]'s Great Unification," which he took as unequivocal evidence of the "diffusive propagation of the Ming imperial house's [literary ] culture and [political ] mandate."Qian Qianyi "Postface to the a Korean edition of the collected works of Liu Zongyuan" 跋高麗板柳文, Youxueji f.46 in Qian Muzhai quanji, 1527--1528: 跋之前後 敬書正統戊午夏 正統四年冬十一月 尊正朔大一統之意 .... 箕子之風教故在 而明皇家文命誕敷.
51 Typeset with metallic moveable type, the Brilliant Flowers themselves were expensive to produce and only a limited number of copies of each edition were produced. A print run was likely in the range of dozens, and was usually given away as gifts to Ming travelers. As such, their circulation in the Ming was limited. However, once in the Ming, it provided a valuable source of information about Korea in Ming institutional circles. Yan Congjian, the seventeenth century compiler of the Ming Comprehensive Record of Diverse Realms, included in this treatise documenting Ming foreign relations several dozen poems from various editions of the Brilliant Flowers in his section on Korea. Many of the verses made explicit the function of encomium and sang praises either of the Ming itself or the extension of Ming civilizing influence to Korea. See Yan Congjian, Shuyu zhouzi lu 殊域周咨錄 1:15a--30b.
52 Ch. Neige (內閣). John W. Dardess, A Ming Society : T'ai-Ho County, Kiangsi, in the Fourteenth to Seventeenth Centuries (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 199--205s.
53 Ch. Daxueshi 大學士.
54 Ch. Hanlin yuan 翰林院.
55 Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, 72--73.
56 Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chu shi Chaoxian, 183--202; Later critics of Ming poetry, such as Yoshikawa Kōjirō described the poetry of the Yang's as an "extremely tedious verse" and the period it dominated as a time of "cultural hiatus." Yoshikawa Kōjirō, Five Hundred Years of Chinese Poetry, 1150-1650 : The Chin, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties (Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, 1989), 122--123. More recently, however, the "Secretariat Style" has been reevaluated. Scholars such as Li Shenghua no longer sees these encomiums to be mere paeans of power written by political toadies (政治的幫閒), but the moral and political visions of upright statesmen. Such a view seeks to rescue the poem by salvaging the moral character of its writers, but even for Li, its moral message could not prevent it from becoming a "mediocre mode" (不免庸音). Li Shenghua 李聖華, Chu Ming shige yanjiu 初明詩歌研究 (Beijing: Zhonghua shu ju, 2012), 357--364.
57 Although, as Li Shenghua argues, the Yongle and Xuande years should hardly be seen as a model era. The secretariat poets worked in a venal political climate where their lives were often at risk. See Li Shenghua, Chu Ming shige yanjiu, 360--364.
58 See Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, 280--283.
59 The identification of these individuals with the Taige school may be a retroactive narrative by its later critics. Because Ming literati envoys were invariably chosen among the ranks of academicians (and their assistants new metropolitan exam graduates among the Messenger Office 行人司), who were often closely tied with the Grand Secretariat, the influence of the "Secretariat Style" remained strong, even when it was no longer in vogue. By the end 15th century, the Grand Secretary Li Dongyang (李東陽 1447--1516), had spearheaded a transformation of academic poetry, but retained elements of the "Secretariat Style" in his so-called Chaling School poetry (茶陵派). Li Dongyang too had been a close, junior associate of the Ming envoys Ni Qian and Dong Yue, having written posthumous commemorations of their life and work. See Li Shenghua, Chu Ming shige yanjiu, 357; Li Dongyang 李東陽, Li Dongyang ji 李東陽集 (Changsha: Yuelu shushe, 1984), f.22 in v.2, pp. 322--323; f.24 in v.3, pp. 354--357; f.25 in v.3, pp. 361--362.
60 Gari Ledyard, "Confucianism and War: The Korean Security Crisis of 1598," 83.
61 Philip de Heer, The Care-Taker Emperor: Aspects of the Imperial Institution in Fifteenth-Century China as Reflected in the Political History of the Reign of Chu Ch'i-Yü (Leiden: Brill, 1986), 5; John W. Dardess, Blood and History in China : The Donglin Faction and Its Repression, 1620-1627 (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002); Harry Miller, State versus Gentry in Late Ming Dynasty China, 1572-1644 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 1--30, 55--75.
62 see Chapter 3.
63 Unlike, for example, in the French absolutism of the 18th century, where the sovereign person became the concrete focus of imperial fabrication, the Ming empire, at least as it was created in the space of envoy poetry never focused on the emperor as a human subject. Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 15--84.
64 Li Shenghua identifies the prevalence of social and occasional composition as one of the key features of the "Secretariat Style" in Chu Ming shige yanjiu, 364--366.
65 Zhang Ning, Fengshi lu, 15; 1460 HHJ in Asami v.2 f.5:6b (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 117--118): 天順四年春 余奉上命使朝鮮 登高望遠之際 緬懷帝都 瀏覽王國 天時人事 景物山川 幽顯雖殊 心目俱至.
66 天地有恩同覆載 華夷無處不朝宗.
67 Zhang Ning, Fengshi lu, 13--15; 1460 HHJ in Asami v.2 f.5:6b--9b (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 118--119).
68 1457 HHJ preface 1a--4b in SKCM pt.4 v.301:184b--186a (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 47--48); TMS f.94 15b-17b. (皇華集序).
69 For example, Yi Sŏkhyŏng's preface to the 1476 HHJ begins, "Grand is the Imperial Ming, unifier of realms" (欽惟皇明 混一區宇). See 1476 HHJ preface 4a--6b in SKCM pt.4 v.301:291b (ZBHHJ v.1, 211--212); Yi Sŏkhyŏng 李石亨, Chŏhŏn chip 樗軒集 f.2, in HMC v.9:428d--429b. Kim Arro makes the connection explicit: "Grand is Our Imperial Dynasty receives its Mandate of Heaven, encompassing the realm of China [lit. The Xia ]; the impartiality of its gaze reaches to farthest expanse. We the Eastern Kingdom has received the most of its culture and teachings [i.e. sŏnggyo/shengjiao ] ...." (洪惟我皇朝受天命 奄有區夏 一視之同 極際荒逖 我東國最霑聲敎) in 1537 HHJ preface 1:1a-5b in SKCM pt.4 v.301:439a (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 570--571). See also Kim Allo 金安老 Hŭiraktang munjip 希樂堂文集 f.5, in HMC v.21: 397a--398b. Examples such as these in the prefaces and text of the HHJ are too numerous to list here.
70 1567 HHJ preface in SKCM pt.4, v.301:765b; Hong Sŏm 洪暹, Injae sŏnsaeng munjip 忍齋先生文集 v. 4, in HMC v.32:382d--383d: 以敝封雖處海表 而世謹候度 視均內服.
71 1476 HHJ f.1:24a--27b in SKCM pt.4, v.301:304b--306a (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 226--227).
72 由來東土文風好 自昔中朝賜予隆 藩屏皇家崇節度 儀形聖範恤疲癃.
73 Zhang Ning, Fengshi lu, 13--15; 1460 HHJ in Asami v.2 f.5:6b--9b (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 118--119).
74 1537 HHJ f.1:1a--b in SKCM pt.4 v.441b (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 576): 遂令天塹限中華 扶餘道上春風早 鴨綠江頭楊柳花 自是文風歸一統 萬年藩屏衛皇家.
75 1476 HHJ f.1:12a--13b in SKCM pt.4 v.301:298a--299a (ZBHHJ v.1 218--220: 故潁川之集 陳留之赦 不過一時之異 而未足為盛世之祥 方今聖明在上 文運大昌 內自九州 外達遐荒 德化勞敷 藹藹洋洋. Both "Yinchuan zhi ji" 潁川之集 and "Chenliu zhi she" 陳留之赦 refers to times when a phoenix was said to have descended. See "Section of Emperors and Kings" (Diwang bu 帝王部) f.82 in Cefu yuangui f.82, p.956b--957a; "Section of Governors and Prefects" (Mushou bu 牧守部) f.11 in Cefu yuangui f.681, p. 8135a.
76 1476 HHJ f.1:13b in SKCM pt.4, v.301:299a (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 219: 豈不有以見東藩文物之一新 而驗我國朝氣化之全盛也.
77 Xue Yingqi 薛應旂, Fangshan xiansheng wenlu 方山先生文錄, f.9 28b--29b, in SKCM pt.4 v.102:324a--325b: 今朝鮮在周為箕子之國 在漢為樂浪玄菟之郡 固聲教所暨之地 特唐貞觀間以莫直離之亂 不免勤中國之兵 ...迨我明興輸忱向化 為諸夷先至 我皇上誕敷大慶 ....
78 Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.-A.D. 907 (Honolulu: Association for Asian Studies and University of Hawai'i Press, 2001), 56--57; Ki-baek Yi, A New History of Korea (Cambridge, Mass.: Published for the Harvard-Yenching Institute by Harvard University Press, 1984), 9--35.
79 Xu Jing 徐兢, Xuanhe fengshi Gaoli tujing 宣和奉使高麗圖經, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 3236--3239 (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshu guan, 1937), f.5--10, 16, 17 etc.
80 Dong Yue, Chaoxian fu, 4a--5b.
81 Dong Yue's description of Korean mourning customs was a case in point. He remarked on the strict observance of three year's mourning and how even "slaves and servants were allowed to perform filial acts for their parents" (子有三年之,雖奴僕亦許行以成其孝). Dong Yue also noted Korea's paucity of eunuchs. (閹宦皆非宮刑 惟取幼時傷疾者為之 所以甚少.) He, as a Ming central official, likely considered to be a baleful existence in the Ming court. He probably shared the view by other Ming envoys that their near absence in Korea was a blessing. Chaoxian fu, 4b.
82 Gong Yongqing, "The Confucian Temple" 文廟 in 1537 HHJ f.1:27a in SKCM pt.4 v.301:454b (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 597).
83 "Flowing east to the sea, received in the west by the rolling sands [and ] to utmost limits north and south, [thus ] his influence [shengjiao ] filled up to the four seas" 東漸于海西被于流沙朔南暨聲教訖于四海. Shangshu zhushu 尚書注疏 f.6, 93a--b in SSJZS.
84 Bol, Neo-Confucianism in History, 144; see Qiu Jun, Daxue yanyi bu, f.143, 1326. For the importance of Qiu's Supplement to mid and late Ming ideas of the proper bounds of civilization, see Leo Shin's discussion. When it came to other areas of the Ming frontier, such as the southwest, Qiu advocated a program of empire in which strict distinctions were to be made between the civilized, imperial desmenses and the barbarian outside, a position which resonated with the Ming founder's attitude towards Korea discussed below. See also Leo K. Shin, The Making of the Chinese State, 161--166.
85 In articulating the transformative influence of the Ming, Ming envoys like Gong Yongqing and Confucian scholars like Qiu Jun used a constellation of related concepts. All of these notions have classical referents and are loaded with significance, both to the Neo-Confucian philosophical tradition and literary culture in general, albeit each to varying degrees. Shengjiao (Kr. sŏnggyo) might emphasize the moral quality of this influence, whereas wen (Kr: mun) 文 and p'ung/feng 風 might suggest its literary dimension, though its moral potential and its connection with civilization (and by extension, its morality) are implied as well. These words appear in various combinations -- hwa/hua 化 points to a transformative power, although p'ung/feng 風 too has such implications. And finally there is hwangp'ung/huangfeng 皇風 and hwanghwa/huanghua 皇化, capturing the role of the Emperor and the empire in this transformative process. While these terms are not identical, they are interconnected in their historical usage. The term sŏnggyo/shengjiao 聲教 expands into sŏngwi kyohwa/shengwei jiaohua 聲威教化. Kyohwa/jiaohua 教化 as a term, along with p'ung/feng 風 appears in the "Great Preface" to the Book of Songs as 風 風也 教也 風以動之 教以化之. Stephen Owen translates this as "'Airs' are 'Influence'; it is 'to teach.' By influence it stirs them; by teaching it transforms them." Here the literary and the moral are connected, with the literary being the substance of teaching and the mechanism of transformation. Mun/wen 文 has a fundamental meaning of patterning, and its relationship to "civilization" may be understood as an extension of that concept -- the patterning of human society made possible by literary patterning and writing. See Stephen Owen, Readings in Chinese Literary Thought, Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series (Cambridge, Mass.: Council on East Asian Studies Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1992)., for the discussion of wen/mun 文 see 24--25, for the equivalence of jiaohua 教化 and feng 風 see 38--39. They are all related to the notion of 教化 (which too appears elsewhere in Gong's poetry), a term translated generally as "civilization." See Michael Nylan, The Five "Confucian " Classics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001) and Sarah Schneewind, Community Schools and the State in Ming China (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2006), 39 for discussions on hua 化 as "civilization."
86 Qiu Jun, Daxue yanyi bu, f.143, p. 1326.
87 恭順朝廷 四時朝貢 不廢禮節.
88 Qiu Jun, Daxue yanyi bu, f.155, p. 1426: 是故德化感召之使然. Although he saw "barbarians who come to court in awe of righteouness" to be "a beautiful thing" (蠻夷慕義而朝 固是美事) Qiu cautions rulers against indulging in false reputation, a desire too easily exploited by unscrupulous barbarians who "merely desire the goods of China." Since Koreans, along with the Vietnamese, were "the only barbarians interested in books," (今四夷之好書籍者 惟安南與朝鮮) they presumably did not fit under these categories. See f.145, p. 1346, 1347--1348.
89 國雖曰一隅 然東漸之化 實先被焉.
90 1476 HHJ f.14a--18a in SKCM pt.4, v.301:299b--301b (ZBHHJ 220--222); Kim Su'on, Sigu chip 拭疣集 f.4 in HMC v.9:111a--111b. Note that the HHJ ascribes this piece to Sŏng Im 成任. The Neo-Confucian scholar Yi Hwang 李滉 makes a similar statement in his preface to the 1568 Brilliant Flowers; see Yi Hwang, T'oegye sŏnsaeng munjip f.42 in HMC v.30:435a: "The Great Ming on high, the eight frontiers are united; but as for the foremost and preeminent recipient of the eastward flow of the civilization, there is none who is closer than We, the East." 大明當天 八荒同軌 而東漸之化 首被而尤洽者 莫近於我東.
91 Mun Chungyang 文重亮, "15 segi ŭi 'p'ungt'o putongnon' kwa Chosŏn ŭi koyu sŏng 15세기의 '風土不同論'과 조선의 고유성," Han'guk sa yŏn'gu 한국사연구, no. 162 (September 2013): 59--60; see also Zhu Xi, Shujing jizhuan 書經集傳 f.3: 蓋禹聲敎所及地盡四海 而其疆理則止以五服爲制 至荒服之外 又別爲區畫.
92 For the investiture crisis, see Hugh Walker, "The Yi-Ming Rapprochement: Sino-Korean Foreign Relations, 1392-1592" (Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1971), 203--215; Kim Sunja, Han'guk chungse Han-Chung kwan'gyesa, 164--170.
93 T'aejo sillok 2:14b [1392/11/27 #1 ]: 高麗限山隔海 天造東夷 非我中國所治.
94 T'aejo sillok 9:4a [1396/03/29 ]: 朕數年前曾勑彼 儀從本俗 法守舊章 令聽其自爲聲敎 喜則來王 怒則絶行 亦聽其自然 朝鮮限山隔海 天造地設 東夷之邦也 風殊俗異 朕若賜與印信誥命 令彼臣妾 鬼神監見 無乃貪之甚歟 今朝鮮在當王之國 性相好而來王 頑嚚狡詐 聽其自然 自為聲教.
95 Ch'oe Chongsŏk 崔鐘奭, "Chosŏn ch'ogi kukka wisang kwa 'Sŏnggyo chayu ' 조선초기 국가 위상과 '聲敎自由','" 한국사연구, no. 162 (September 2013): 3--44, esp. 6--12; Mun Chungyang, "15 segi ŭi 'p'ungt'o putongnon," 58--63.
96 Se-Woong Koo, "Reaching for the Sky," Manuscript.
97 The Ming court continued to deny Chosŏn access to the Ming using these terms. The Ming refusal to grant Chosŏn access to its legal regulations, the Ming Code 大明律, was another case in point. Sejong sillok 112:30a [1446/06/07 #1 ].
98 The use of female music in court ritual is a case in point, see Sixiang Wang, "Refusing the Courtesan: Moral Virtue and the Politics of Diplomacy in Early Chosŏn" (presented at the 26th Association of Korean Studies: Europe Conference (AKSE), Vienna, Austria, July 7, 2013).
99 In the case of the Ming southwest, it was community schools that was at the forefront of the "civilizing process." Sarah Schneewind, Community Schools and the State, 35--42.
100 Martina Deuchler, The Confucian Transformation of Korea, 89--128.
101 For example, see Sejong sillok 114:16b [1446/10/28 #1 ].
102 And if they were not undertaken by the state, they occurred with the actions of retired court officials or local yangban, as in the form of local academies (sŏwŏn). See for example, the printing of the Samgang haeng silto. Young Kyun Oh, Engraving Virtue the Printing History of a Premodern Korean Moral Primer (Leiden: Brill, 2013)
103 As the court official Cho Wi 曺偉 (1454--1503) expressed in a piece commemorating the Hall of Reading, the Chosŏn court's method of "civilization, transformation, enlightenment and guidance" (教化開導之方) had reached the sagely standards set by the Zhou and surpassed the heights attained by former imperial dynasties, like the Han and Tang. See Cho Wi, Maegye sŏnsaeng munjip 梅溪先生文集 f.4 in HMC v.16:328b.
104 Qiu Jun, Daxue yanyi bu f.145, pp. 1347--1348
105 Tanjong sillok 12:13a [1457/09/27 #1 ].
106 Sejong sillok 6:10a [1419/12/07 #3 ]; For the significance of the Great Compendia, see Bol, Neo-Confucianism in History, 147--149.
107 Du addresses Wu Jie's postface to Ni Qian's Liaohai compilation. See Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenren chushi Chaoxian, 68.
108 Du Huiyue, Mingdai wenren chushi Chaoxian, 69
109 Sŏ Kŏjŏng, "Preface to Minister Pak's compilation of poetry exchanges with various [Ming ] envoys," 朴判書編集奉使諸賢詩序, Saga munjip f.4 in HMC v.11:235a--236b: 吾東邦 邈處海外 禮樂文章之盛 侔擬中華 人物之生於其間 能不愧古賢大夫者 亦不乏人 欽惟皇明馭宇 薄海內外 罔不臣妾 乃眷朝鮮 比之內諸侯 錫貢相望 ....
110 Ibid: 今天子仁聖 四海一家 我殿下膺天興運 至誠事大 相國左右贊襄 爲時良佐 或文辭禮儀 得尊王人之體 或誦詩專對 揚休天子之庭.
111 The sage Kija became a vital symbol of that claim. This will be discussed further in Chapter 6.
112 The term "feudal lord of the interior" (海內諸侯) literally referred to titled nobles at the Ming court. Various princely fiefs were granted to Ming royal family members and meritorious military officials, but their grants did not operate as autonomous polities. They were more or less prebendal grants that allotted princes a set income, but did not offer political control. This arrangement contrasts with the political function of classical Zhou fiefdoms, which were upheld often held by early Confucians and later classicists as a model political order. See for example Huang Zongxi, Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince, trans. William Theodore De Bary (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 11--13, 21--23, 51--52. Note especially the similarities between Huang's view of hereditary military feudatories and the operation of Chosŏn's relations with the Ming in 125--127. See also Bol, Neo-Confucianism in History, 117--133.
113 Sejong sillok 16.18a [1422/06/27 #2 ];. Despite the questionable orthodoxy of this act of self-mortification and the cannibalistic gesture that followed, finger-cutters like Kim Sawŏl became a vivid symbol of the Chosŏn court's efforts at transforming social mores and cultural values along Confucian lines. I have discussed this affair and its relationship to the early Chosŏn's Confucianization projects and the gradual transformation of "finger cutting" as an unorthodox practice, associated with Buddhist ideas of self-mortification, into an exemplary act of filial devotion, worthy of any proper Confucian. I discuss the background of this issue in more detail in "The Filial Daughter of Kwaksan," Seoul Journal of Korean Studies 25, no. 2 (December 2012): 175--212.
114 Ni had written his poem with a request that those present would "match his verses," so that it could demonstrate "the beautiful [virtue ] of the East."See "Poem of the Filial Daughter of Kwaksan" 孝女四月詩 in Liaohai bian 遼海編 and the 1450 HHJ f.1:41b in SKCM pt.4 v.301:242b--243a; (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 38): 倘惠和答 亦足成東方之美也. A later envoy Dong Yue, for example, explained that he was explicitly following Ni's precedent when he wrote his own poem in 1488. See 1488 HHJ Asami v.6, f.11:2a--11.2b (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 344).
115 Liaohai bian 2:25a-25b in Shi Chaoxian lu 使朝鮮錄 570-571: 夫孝者 百行之首 萬善之原 以一房闥少女 猶能踐之 矧其士大夫乎 予於是 益知我朝列聖敎化之漸被者遠矣.
116 始知帝降衷 不以華夷別.
117 Sin Sukchu, Pohanjae chip 保閑集 f.12 in HMC v.10:98a: 吾王重孝理 有善必昭晢 褒美示後人 勒石以旌別 垂範各適宜 椳闑與扂楔 所以此孝女 芳名常揭揭 ...
118 1537 HHJ f.1:8a--9a in SKCM pt.4 v.301:445a--b (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 582): 皇風自是式九圍 澤被東藩乃如此.
119 There were exceptions. Gong's assistant, Wu Ximeng, for example saw the filial daughter's virtue to be tangible evidence of the moral accomplishment of Chosŏn gentlemen.Others, like the 1521 envoy Shi Dao 史道, wrote that "the vassal king affirms moral teachings; / filial principles flow to the people of the East," positioning the Chosŏn ruler in the position of a civilizing ruler. See 1537 HHJ f.4:28a--29b in SKCM pt.4 v.301:539a-b (ZBHHJ v.1, p.726): 東方女流尚如此 因誠君子倫理敦; 1521 HHJ f.1:1b--2a in SKCM pt.4, v.301:371b-372a (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 449--550): 藩王重名教 孝理漸東民 褒崇有聖典 東方風以諄 孝女事已舊 千古名常興.
120 I have also argued that, in the case of Kim's example of filial finger-cutting, Chosŏn court was in effect appropriating prevailing popular and indigenous practices and rewriting them as hallmarks of Confucian virtue. In this manner, a practice, questionable in light of canonical Confucian injunctions against "self-harm" came to be accepted as a legitimate and praiseworthy act of filial devotion. See Sixiang Wang, "The Filial Daughter of Kwaksan," Seoul Journal of Korean Studies 25, no. 2 (December 2012): 175--212.
121 1521 HHJ f.1:1b--2a in SKCM pt.4, v.301:371b-372a (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 449--550): ....那知一女子 獨取扵諮詢 我聞孔氏說 惟德必有隣 小邦雖異土 亦是皇家民 斯民各盡性 益知王化諄.
122 1521 HHJ f.1:20b--21a in SKCM pt. 4 v.301.380b-381a (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 465): 星軺跋涉向何之 路入青丘為採詩 聖化東漸家節義 如今不獨郭山碑.
123 For Chŏng's poem, see 1521 HHJ f.1:21a in SKCM pt.4 v.301:381b (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 466): 使節經閭一問之 更煩椽筆為題詩 芳名定自流千古 不必堅頑數尺碑.
124 1539 HHJ f.1:18b--19a in SKCM pt.4 v.301:585--586 (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 782): 國風歌謠采閨門 皇華使臣徧諏述 我欲獻之列樂官 示爾世世承芳躅. Stephen Owen, Readings in Chinese Literary Thought, 37--49; and Michael Nylan, The Five "Confucian" Classics, 78--84. Like the Airs, reputed to have been collected by Confucius from the vassals of the Zhou, their poetry exchanges were to reflect the social mores of Chosŏn.
125 1539 HHJ f.1:18b--19a in SKCM pt.4 v.301:585--586 (ZBHHJ v.1, p. 782): 皇華一顧採民風 萬古文章同海岳 東方孝理著自古 況今聖明調玉燭 関雎首開風化原 女子有行男私淑 願為彌縫獻天子 不有斯文亦何述 倘得諮詢徧東國 豈唯郭山有遺躅 ....
126 The "Cry of the Fishhawks" one of the definitive classical expressions of the canonical and moral imperatives connected to writing. See Owen, Readings, 1-2.
127 Sin T'aeyŏng, Hwanghwachip yŏn'gu 158--159.
128 For a tabulation of the various prefaces, brief biographies of their authors and the textual discrepancies between various versions of the Brilliant Flowers and among the respective collected works of these authors, consult Kim Kihwa 김기화, "Hwanghwajip sŏmun kwa sŏmun chŏnsŏja ŭi Munjip e taehan yŏn'gu 「皇華集」 序文과 序文撰述者의 文集에 대한 연구," Sŏjihak Yŏngu 41 (December 2008): 227--264.
129 The "Daming," 大明, "Huangyi" 皇矣, "Yupu" 棫樸, and "Zaolu" 旱麓 were encomiums to the virtuous rule of the Zhou in the Greater Odes section of the Book of Songs. See Shijing (Mao 236, 241, 238, 239).
130 I.e. the value of si-poetry (詩) was that in its authentic lyricism. In classical discourse, poems were seen to be reliable indicators of one's emotional state. See Owen, Readings in Chinese Literary Thought, 40--44.
131 Or, cultivated literary elegance. Here, Sŏ makes ample use of the multiple connotations of p'ung (Ch. feng 風) and a (Ch. ya 雅) in the Great Preface, where the terms refer to both sections in the Book of Songs and particular modes of poetry by the same name. Whereas the p'ung referred to modes of remonstrance and civilizing influence, the a provided models for proper governance. See Owen, Readings in Chinese Literary Thought, 45--49.
132 Sŏ Kŏjŏng, Saga munjip f.4 in HMC v.11:247b--247d; 1476 HHJ preface 1a--5b in SKCM pt.4, v.301:290b--291a (ZBHHJ v.1, pp. 209--210). 王道興 雅頌作 而致治之跡 有可得而考矣 在昔成周之盛 如大明,皇矣,棫樸,旱麓之詩 皆足以鋪張盛美 以新一代之制作矣 然置官採詩 雖以檜,曹之微 亦得列國風之末 詩之不可廢也如是 况詩者 本乎性情之眞 發於咨嗟詠嘆之餘 間有上勞下 下頌上 關於世敎 合乎風雅之正者 則大雅君子 尤有所取之 皇明馭宇 薄海內外 罔不臣妾 我朝鮮世被聲敎 詩書禮樂 有古文獻之風
133 聖天子誕膺天命 光登寶位 兹者 冊立皇儲 示天下端本 乃遣戶部郞中祈公順,行人司左司副張公瑾 來使我邦 兩先生皆以溫柔敦厚之資 雄偉豪傑之才 周旋使事 從容甚度 其暇日 則陟降原隰 周覽景物 凡山川地理民風國俗 觸於目 諷於口 牢籠殆盡 鏗乎塤篪之迭奏 戛乎金石之相宣 雄篇傑作 愈出愈奇 其所以觀風察俗之意 蔚然於其間 居正奉王命 爲遠接使 迎送于鴨江 陪侍杖屨 盖浹四旬 其於酬唱 亦獲聞緖餘 吁幸矣哉 兩先生之還 我殿下欲壽詩不朽 命書局刊印 以侈其行.
134 "Simu" [Four Steeds ] 四牡 (Mao 162), "Huanghuang zhe hua" [Brilliant Are the Flowers ] 皇皇者華 (Mao 163).
135 居正竊念 詩三百篇 古也 四牡,皇華 皆遣使臣而作 其詩曰 王事靡盬 不遑啓處 又曰 載馳載驅 周爰咨諏 夫受天子之命 駕四牡 馳原隰 常若不及 則凡所以宣上德而達下情 詢咨諏度者 宜無所不盡其心 此皇華大夫之所以爲賢 而周雅之所以爲盛也 今兩先生之才之美 卽周雅之大夫 其詩卽四牡,皇華之遺響 是豈可以不列於皇明制作之班乎 兩先生之還 其以是篇 獻諸天子 播之絃謌 以續夫周雅之正
136 Du Huiyue discuses this at length and expounds on several such examples in Mingdai wenchen chushi Chaoxian, 72--80.
137 則我國雖小 有古箕子存神之妙 其所採錄 亦不必後於檜,曹者矣 抑因此 聖天子不鄙夷遠人之大度 我殿下畏天事大之至誠 兩先生得使臣之體 吾東韓風化漸漬之深者 亦皆揄揚金石 鏗鍧振燿於無窮矣 何幸得見大雅之復於今日乎 蒼龍丙申
138 Even as he discussed the influence upon Chosŏn's civilization, he left the words "civilizing influence" in ambiguous relationship with "flow" and "steep." As it is worded here, it could easily be interpreted as Chosŏn being "steeped" in the Ming's "civilizing influence," but it could very well mean that the "civilizing influence" of the Chosŏn court has "seeped deeply" throughout Korea.
139 臣竊惟我東國 天畫壤地 邈在海表 然而箕子之所受封 孔聖之所欲居 禮義文獻之稱 其來尙矣.
140 Yun, "Rethinking the Tribute System," 216.
141 A range of mythologies, rumors, and popular narratives evolved from the envoy encounters, in both the Ming and Chosŏn, that speak to these divergent perceptions. I address this in a work in progress, "Spurned Courtesans, Returned Gifts and Invented Pavilions: Convention, Reputation and Moral Virtue in Chosŏn-Ming Relations."