Gyeongdeok of Silla

Gyeongdeok of Silla (景德王; 742-765) was the 35th ruler of Silla and son of King Seongdeok (reigned 702-737). He succeeded his elder brother, King Hyoseong, the 34th ruler of Silla. His reign is considered a golden age in Unified Silla’s history, particularly for Buddhist art and architecture.[1][2][3] He is noted as an intent patron of Buddhism and an influential political and religious individual.[4] King Gyeongdeok also made attempts to centralize the country through reorganizing government and standardizing naming practices.[1][5][6][7][8] With his mother as reagent, Gyeongdeok’s son, King Hyegong, succeeded him after his death.

Gyeongdeok of Silla
Revised RomanizationGyeongdeok Wang
McCune–ReischauerKyŏngdŏk Wang
Birth name
Revised RomanizationGim Heon-yeong
McCune–ReischauerKim Hŏnyŏng

Projects under reignEdit

King Gyeongdeok is best known for the multiple architectural projects that began under his reign. The most notable of these is the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok, which he commissioned and named for his father.[1][2][9] The construction began in 742 and finished during the reign of King Hyoseong.[9]  The tomb of King Seongdeok was also completed by King Gyeongdeok in alignment with the styles of the Great Stupa of Sanchi and Bharhut Stupa.[4]

Buddhist architecture also gained much support from King Gyeongdeok. The construction of Seokguram Grotto also began under his reign headed by Prime Minister Kim Dae-seong in 751, who also oversaw the construction of the Bulguksa Temple and the Dabotap Pagoda which began construction in the same year.[2][10][11] King Gyeongdeok also constructed a Jangsaenpyo at Borimsa to express his gratitude for the support of Master Wanpyo in his administrative endeavors.[12]  

It is also likely that King Gyeongdeok constructed one of the lotus ponds in the southwest region of Wolseong Castle, which spans approximately forty meters from east to west and fifty meters from north to south.[13]

Government reformEdit

King Gyeongdeok attempted further centralization of Korea through organization of government and post naming conventions.[1]  

King Gyeongdeok tried to establish a government system similar to the Chinese system of governing, where regions were governed by court-appointed officials rather than local nobles.[1]

The standardization of naming conventions happened across multiple levels during King Gyeongdeok’s reign. The Gongbang class, or artisans, offices were renamed using the suffix “bang” from “jeon” during his reign.[5] A similar change was that of forge workers’ titles, from Cheolyujeon (鐵鍮典) was changed to Chukyabang (築冶房), which have the same essential meaning.[5][7]

Locations were standardized as well under King Gyeongdeok. Records in the Samguk sagi show a list of toponyms from Silla and Korea’s conquered kingdoms of Goguryeo and Baekje that were standardized to Chinese names in 757.[6] The records contain both the new standardized Chinese name and a phonetic Chinese transcription of the original name of each location, which were generally similar to the semantic meaning of the Chinese name.[6] Sanum, a county in modern South Gyeongsang Province. Called Chip'umch'on in the Silla period, the province was renamed Sanum and incorporated into Kwólsóng gun.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Tennant, Charles Roger, 1919-2003. (1996). A history of Korea. London: Kegan Paul International. ISBN 0-7103-0532-X. OCLC 33334921.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c Pratt, Keith L. (2006). Everlasting flower : a history of Korea. London: Reaktion. ISBN 978-1-86189-273-7. OCLC 63137295.
  3. ^ Kim, Jeong-hwa (2003). "Manufacturing Technique of Gulbulsaji Four Surface Buddha Statue - Mainly for Seomyeon Amita Three Buddha Statues -". Komunhwa. 62: 59–85 – via KoreaScience.
  4. ^ a b Lee, Geun-jik (2009). "The Development of Royal Tombs in Silla" (PDF). International Journal of Korean History. 14: 122.
  5. ^ a b c Cha, Soon-cheol (2009). "The Characteristics of Silla's Gongbang" (PDF). International Journal of Korean History. 14: 125–160.
  6. ^ a b c Pellard, Thomas (2014). "The Awakened Lord: The Name of the Buddha in East Asia". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 134 (4): 689–698. doi:10.7817/jameroriesoci.134.4.689. JSTOR 10.7817/jameroriesoci.134.4.689 – via JSTOR.
  7. ^ a b Kim, Chong Sun (2004). "Silla Economy and Society". Korean Studies. 28: 75–104. doi:10.1353/ks.2005.0020. JSTOR 23720183. S2CID 145158628 – via JSTOR.
  8. ^ a b Ro, Jin Young (1983). "Demographic and Social Mobility Trends in Early Seventeenth-century Korea: An Analysis of Sanum County Census Registers". Korean Studies. 7: 77–113. doi:10.1353/ks.1983.0004. JSTOR 23717753. S2CID 162202551 – via JSTOR.
  9. ^ a b "Introduction - The Sacred Bell of Great King Seongdeok". Coursera (in Korean). Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  10. ^ Koh, Woong-Kon (2015). "Status of the Principal Statue of Sakyamuni in Seokguram Grotto and Suggestions". The Journal of the Korea Contents Association. 15 (11): 41–19. doi:10.5392/JKCA.2015.15.11.041 – via KoreaScience.
  11. ^ Administration, Cultural Heritage. "Dabotap Pagoda of Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju - Heritage Search". Cultural Heritage Administration - English Site. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  12. ^ Seung-yeon, Lee (2013), "Formation of Multiple Areas within Seon Temples in the Aftermath of the Dissolution of the Upper Monastic Area", On the Formation of the Upper Monastic Area of Seon Buddhist Temples from Korea´s Late Silla to the Goryeo Era, Sungkyunkwan University Outstanding Research, 2, Heidelberg: Springer International Publishing, pp. 57–95, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-00053-4_5, ISBN 978-3-319-00052-7, retrieved 2020-12-08
  13. ^ Lee, Sang-jun (2009). "Spatial Structure and Scope of the Wolseong Castle" (PDF). International Journal of Korean History. 14: 31–57.
Gyeongdeok of Silla
 Died: 765
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Silla
Succeeded by