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Commercial Relations between Korea and the Middle East in the Medieval Ages1)

Seong Min Hong (RIES)



Ⅰ. Introduction 

Ⅱ. Commercial Activities between China and Musilm Countries in the Middle Ages 

  1. Chinese Trade with Muslim Countries 

  2. Muslim's Economic Activities in China 

Ⅲ. Muslim as a Middleman in the Trade between Korea and China 

Ⅳ. Commercial Relations between Korean and Muslim  

  1. Historical Contact with Shilla people and Muslim 

  2. Trade between Korean and Muslim 

Ⅴ. Conclusion 


* Bibliography 


중세 한-중동간 교역

홍성민 (종합경제사회연구원 )

한국이 서역에 알려진 최초의 기록은 1260년대 원조(元朝)에 파견된 프랑스인 루브룩크가 그의 여행기에서 ‘섬의 정부 카우레’라고 한 것이 서구에 알려진 한국에 관한 첫 기록으로 되어 있다. 그후 1653년 1월 제주도에 표류한 네델란드인 헨릭 하멜이 한국에 온 최초의 서역인으로 알려지고 있다.

이때까지 한국이 서역(西域)에 알려진 기록, 즉 서역인(西域人)의 한국행 기록을 스페인 선교사 그레고리오 데 세스페데스가 하멜보다 60년 앞선 1593년 12월 29일 한국의 웅천항에 도착한 것이 서구인의 최초 한국행이라고 하여 학계에 일대 파문을 일으키고 있었다. Ibn Khurdazibah(820-912)의 아랍어 원문은 한-무슬림간의 중동교역(中東交易) 사실을 확인하고 있으며, 그보다 약 300년 앞선 시기에 교역을 한 기록과 교역품을 밝혀내고 있다.

이븐 쿠르디지바의 아랍어 원문에서 우리는 SILLA라는 명칭이 정확하게 기록되고 있음을 알 수 있다. 그의 기록에 따르면, 한국의 인삼, 검(劍), 견포(絹布), 도자기, 매 등이 이슬람세계로 수출되었다는 사실을 알 수 있다.

한편 W.C. Brice's historical map에 따르면, 한국의 지명이 서역(西域)에 알려진 정확한 명칭을 파악할 수 있어 한국의 역사학계의 연구에 타산지석(他山之石)이 되고 있다. 그동안 마르코 폴로(Marco Polo; 1254-1324)가 그의 저서 [東方見聞錄]에서 고려(高麗)의 한자음을 Kauli라고 언급하고 있지만, 한국의 학계(學界)에서는 카울리가 우리나라를 지칭하는지 아니면 다른 지명을 말하는 것인지는 확실히 밝히지 못하고 있다.

브라이스의 지도에 따르면, 이러한 궁금증도 분명히 해결됨을 알 수 있다. 그의 지도에 나타난 기록을 보면, 위에 언급한 661년까지의 무슬림 팽창도에서는 SILLA라는 명칭이 사용되었고, 750년경 움마이야제국의 지도에서도 똑같이 SILLA라는 명칭이 사용되고 있다. 그러나 900년경 압바스 칼리프제국 말기의 지도에는 KAOLI라는 명칭이 사용되며, 110년경 알-모라비드, 셀죽크 및 가즈나비드 팽창도에서도 동일 명칭이 사용되고 있다. 1300년경 무슬림지도에서는 오늘날의 KAOLI라는 명칭이 다시 KORYO라고 표시되고 있다. 따라서 오늘날 KOREA를 의미하는 KORYO라는 명칭과 KAOLI의 관계는 분명히 밝혀지고 있음을 알 수 있다.

# This paper was presented at The 10th International Conference of KAMES, October 26-28, 2001, Korean Association of the Middle East Studies. Seoul: Korean Journal of the Middle East Studies. No. 22-2. 2002. Thus its citation necessarily have to keep the rule of KAMES.

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Ⅰ. Introduction

In the modern context, Korea's contact with the Middle East has been started since 1970's, more correctly speaking, after the first 'Oil Crisis' of 1973. To broaden commercial activity with the Middle East, however, it is necessary to trace the contact between Korea and the Middle East historically. Commercial activities between Korean and Muslim in history can guide the future economic relation between us.

Commercial activities between Korean and Muslim in history can guide the future economic relation between us. The fact that when, where and why the Muslims contacted with Korean historically is very important to find out the commercial activity in those days. Considering the wide activities of the Arabs in history, they would have traveled to Eastern countries, especially China for silk trade. They might have visited Korean Peninsula from the curiosity of commerce after the exploring China. Certainly we can find the fact that the Arabs traded with China through 'Silk Road'. However this paper confines the time when Muslims had acted as a great role in the Eastern trade in the middle ages, because the trade through Silk Road is beyond the scope of my study. My study needs the historical results. For that reason, my paper used the historical sources that had been verified by the result of historians.

Accordingly my paper aims to examine the time when the Muslims traded with Koreans and deduce the goods that were exchanged between them at that time directly or indirectly. Moreover, my special emphasis shall be upon the period of Islamic golden ages according to the results that were verified by the historian's work.

Ⅱ. Commercial Activities between China and Musilm Countries in the Middle Ages

1. Chinese Trade with Muslim Countries

In ancient times the most important product of China entering into long-distance international trade was raw silk. China originally had a monopoly in the production of silk, and the demand for this luxury material, which grew up in West Asia and Europe, was sufficient to keep the trade going on a fairly large scale in spite of all deficient. But in the 6th century, as a result of the smuggling of silk cocoons from China, silk began to be produced in Syria and its production soon spread throughout West Asia and Mediterranean countries of Europe, so that the import of the raw materials from China became superfluous. Certain specialized forms of Chinese silk textiles continued to find a market abroad, but in medieval times China's main contribution to international trade was no longer silk, but porcelain.

The Islamic World developed an enormous appetite for Chinese ceramic wares, and theirs are found everywhere, even as far as west Morocco - at first cauldrons of T'ang(唐), Sung(宋) and later the characteristic blue and white pottery of Ming(明) dynasty. The substitution of porcelain for silk as China's principal export also meant a change of emphasis from land to sea transport. Silk, as a commodity of high value but slight bulk, was suitable for carriage on mules or camels along the Caravan Routes, but the more bulky ceramic goods were better served by the space available on a large ships. Leaving aside the maritime trade with Korea and Japan, these goods fall into two main categories, those which came to China from south-East Asia and the Malay Archipelago and those which were brought from the countries of the Indian Ocean - India, Persia, Arabia and East Africa.. (Bertold Spuler 1970, 160-161)

It is well-known fact that the manufacture of writing paper introduced in the middle of 8th century into Samarqand from China. The paper of Samrqand was captured by Muslims in 704 A.D., was considered matchless. Before the close of that century Baghdad saw its first paper mill1). Gradually other mills for making paper followed; Egypt had its factory about 900 or earlier, Morocco about 1100, Spain about 1150 and various kinds of paper, white and colored, were produced. (K. Hitti Philip 1966, 134-135)

In T'ang times the political and economic center of gravity of China was still in the North, and the imperial government was little interested in promoting the commercial interests of its subjects in the southern ports; it was sufficient to let foreign ships come China and impose customs duties as heavy as the traffic would bear. But in the period of Sung dynasty (960-1280) there was a great change; the emperors of this line, having lost their northern provinces to the Jurchit invaders from Manchuria, withdraw to the south of the Yangtse and concentrated on developing the resources of their reduced domain, which included the littoral from the mouth of the Yangtse to the border of Tonking. There was a great increase in Chinese maritime enterprise and an extension of Chinese maritime enterprise and an extension of Chinese geographical knowledge of Indian Ocean reaching as far as East Africa. (G.H. Hudson 1970, 162-163)

On this one hand, Muslim ships for maritime-trade anchor to several ports, such as Hormuz, Makuran, Sind and Mansura etc. One of these used to go straight from Nicobar, across the south, to Island, After that, the ships also anchor to the west coast in Malay Peninsula, which is an important port as an intermediation place for China, Sumatra, and Java etc. Whenever the ships go through Malacca Straits, it can reach to Canton(廣東) in China, by returning a way to the east coast, through a Champa port of Indochina Peninsula. On the way, she was an afraid of the reef around the sandy island at west, which was called 'the Door of China'. Moreover in Indochina Sea, where there is a Typhoon, and there, the sailing route is very dangerous. Another route, which was to go to Canton, existed in Sea. That straits from Champa port entering into Tongking gulf, passing by Hanoi in Indochina Peninsula, if do them, can reach to Canton. Ibn Khrudazibah described that China had a few ports, such as Ruking, Hanfu(廣府), Jamtu(泉州), Qantu(揚州). In addition, a few Muslim merchant used to go to Shilla(新羅) which known to Shilla Dynasty in Korean history. (Kamoda Sohei 1970, 117-118)

Al-Masaudi, a geologist described on the oriental trading that the Muslim ships in Shiraz or Oman had met the Chinese ships in the Kara Sea in the Malay Peninsula in the first half of the 10th century. According to his description, the trading base where Muslim merchants had committed business in trading with foreigner had moved to Kara. At that time, insurgency in China had been suppressed and Muslim trading with China had been resumed again in the beginning of Sung Dynasty. Spot(市舶司) in Canton opened its door in 971, and Jamtu(Cheun Jou) flourished much more than Canton in Sung Dynasty. In the era of Southern Sung Dynasty(南宋), outgoing Chinese ships and incoming foreign ships passed through Cheun Jou. There were a few Japanese ships among them. After in Yuan Dynasty, Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta visited Cheun Jou and described it as the largest trading port in the world. (Kamoda Sohei, 118-120)

The Jewish merchants mixed by Muslim also had played a great role in trade with as well as Muslim merchant. But they just took advantage of the outcome, which Muslim merchants had built already. The important goods in trading with Europe were the slaves that Ibn Khrdazibah had mentioned in his articles. The Islamic Empire imported various products over the outside world with abundant dinar, gold coins. Before and after the 10th century, however, as the money absolutely scared in Western Europe, the only merchandise for exports in Western Europe was slave. In this way, the Western Europe and Russia send slaves to Islamic countries. The city of Venezia in Italy flourished as performing a Slave Trade. But the domination of Islam in respect of Mediterranean-Trade was in danger after Crusade. Because the Norman conquered Sicilian Island in the latter half of 11th century and there after the city with ports(外港), Europe naturally got the command of the sea. (Kamoda Sohei, 115-116)

As above-mentioned, China would imported spices, medical plant, precious stone, ivory, rhinoceros horn(犀角) and etc in the trade with Muslim. On the other hand, China would export silver; copper coin, silk fabrics and pottery etc. in returns. Especially coins took out to the overseas in large quantities. Muslims, of course, would have played a great role in this foreign trade.

2. Muslim's Economic Activities in China

The Muslim merchants who had been succeed the Caravan's brisk trading traditions in Samarqand area from the early times of Sui(隨)-T'ang era engaged in trading with Northern-Hunting people. For Mongol people did not understand even the primitive economic structure, Muslim merchants who engaged in trading with them at the early times exerted a vicious influence upon the economic field, especially financial field in absolute. Because Muslim merchants organized Caravans on a large scale and participated, by comings and goings, in inner Royal Family of the Empire, it has a highly potentiality that they could show remarkable ability in the financial field. (Koh Byong-Ik 1988, 357-359) But Muslim's activities went on ‘collecting taxes for the government'(撲買) as well as their activities as a usurer were worthy of close attention in China. Heidaslue(黑韃史略), the Chinese history book mentioned Mongolian economic condition and Muslims usury in detail.

Accordingly many of Muslims could become rich by collecting taxes for the government, by engaging themselves in usury and by operating the capitals of Mongol princes, availing themselves of the ignorance and inexperience of ruling Mongols in these sectors. From the mid-13th century, the privileged merchants of Islamic adherence came to be organized themselves and were called ‘Ortaq Merchants'2). In this way Muslim merchants had been accumulated their wealth in China, thus, the tyranny of usury was very serious. Their polygamy custom also was concerted with Chinese polygamy custom and the number of Muslim increased greatly. Du Halde expressed this fact as following; "In ancient times, by only intermarriage, but later, by money, namely buying children(買子)". (Koh Byong-Ik, 386-389)

At last offices were established to deal with the merchant's problem in the government. Creation of offices did not necessarily bring about the curtailment of the unrestrained exercise of their powers. That merchant continued to exploit the population in tax collecting, usury, commerce, overseas trade etc. They were granted the privilege of being exempted from corvee work and entitled to use the postal facilities with the sanction of the hiring princes or government. These activities were further supported by those Islamic high governmental officials such as Abdour-Rahman, Mahmud Yelvadje, Ahmed, Taola Shah etc.. (Koh Byong-Ik, 535-536)

Besides such economic activities, Muslims in China played a great role in introducing highly developed technology in artisanship, cannon casting, architecture, astrology and medicine. In Yuan period, Muslim spread over the entire China. By dint of the generous and indifferent attitudes of the ruling Mongols towards all kinds of religions, Islam encountered no hindrance in advocating their faith. In Yuan times, however, primary means of expanding the faith was not through preaching or missionary activities, but through inter-marriage and purchasing the infants of poor Chinese. Muslim in Yuan China often enjoyed a sort of extraterritorial rights and was administered by their Qadis in suitcases. Persian language and letters played the role of lingua franca, and schools for the language were maintained. (Koh Byong-Ik, 536)  

Ⅲ. Muslim as a Middleman in the Trade between Korea and China

In ancient times, Korea's trade pattern generally can be divided into two forms. One is the official 'Tribute-Trade'(朝貢貿易) and the other is 'Private-Trade' which performed by non-governmental side in need of economic activities or notwithstanding the prohibition law from time to time. (Kim sang Kee 1984, 34) It is well known that trade between Korea and China had been actively buoyant from the end of Shilla(新羅) era to the middle of Koryo(高麗) era. Indeed, trade between China and its neighbor countries always camouflaged by the Tribute-Trade patterns and so-called, 'Hwedongkwan-Trade'(會同館貿易) played a leading role in Korea's trade with China till Choson(朝鮮) era. From the end of Shilla era to the middle of Koryo era, however, Private-trade was relatively free and in the T'ang-Sung(唐宋) era, especially in Sung Dynasty private-trade between Koryo and Sung became active as time goes on.

After the unification of Shilla, she extended transportations with T'ang externally as well as fostered the growth of industry internally. Following these circumstances, the cultural advancement and improvement of living conditions in Shilla accelerated the increasing requirements of commodities. Tribute-trade, which had only an official meaning, however, could not meet the developmental need in commercial activities. For this reason, private-trade became vivacious and tribute-trade, official trade gradually became the characteristics of international trade in quality and quantity from the Unified Shilla (668-935, 統一新羅) era3).

The international trade of Paekche(百濟) and Shilla(even Koguryo as to Southern-China) with China was performed through the yellow sea(黃海). As Shilla was located near by China since the era of three Kingdoms (三國時代), the official trade toward the West was also realized mainly by the sea route from the Unified Shilla era. Because Shilla faced with Japan toward the Southeast through the Korean-Japanese Straits, the sea route centering on the Korean Peninsula from the ancient times performed the East Asian Trade internationally. At that time, Jang, Bogo(張保皐 ?~846) wielded his power over China toward the West centering around the Yellow Sea, and toward the East, he also played an active role in trade with Japan. It can be considered that his activities testify the above facts. (Kim, Sang Ki 1984, 13-14)

Moreover, there are some elements why activities of Chinese merchants in Korean Peninsular did not become vivacious until the era of Sung Dynasty (Ibid: 49). It is known that the Chinese trade with Southwest Asian countries was great, the reason why a large numbers of merchant ships from Pakistan, Fu Nam4)(扶南), Jeun Laa(眞惱) and Lin I'(林邑) etc. lined up around Kwang Jou(廣州).  In those days, of course, many of Ta'sik5)(大食) people in China took the leading role in being able to trade with those countries. In the late of T'ang, the trade between Muslim and Shilla was carried out in the region of Dung Jou(登州), Yang Jou(揚州) and Chu Jou(楚州) etc. In China, therefore Chinese merchants would be greatly spurred by the activity of Shilla's merchants who took an active part in Chinese trade6). (Kim, Sang Ki, 49) As many kings of Sung Dynasty wished to increase national wealth through the international trade, actual trade between China and southwest Asian countries was carried out by mainly Ta'sik people as seen in Sung history. (Kim, Sang Ki, 50)

“凡大食 古邏, 闍婆, 占城, 勃泥, 麻逸, 三佛齊諸蕃, 並通貿易 以金銀緡錢鉛錫雜色帛瓷器 市香藥犀象珊瑚琥珀珠琲璸鐵ꜫ皮瑇瑁瑪瑙車渠水精蕃布烏樠蘇木等物" - 宋史(卷百八十六, 互市舶法條)

After that, a remarkable achievement between Koryo and Sung was Ta'sik merchant's comings and goings. Koryosa(高麗史) in Korean history tells us as following sentence that Muslim merchants who had arrived at the coast of southern China at that time were encouraged by the trade between Koryo and Sung and advanced toward Koryo as far as. (Kim, Sang Ki,  64)

“大食國悅羅慈等一百人 來獻方物大食國在西域”, -高麗史(五卷) 顯宗 十五年 九月條- “大食蠻夏詵羅慈等百人 來獻土物”, -同書 翌年 九月條- “大食國客商保那盍等 來獻水銀龍齒占城香沒藥大蘇木等物 命有司 館待優厚 及還 厚賜金帛”, -同書(六卷) 靖宗 六年 十一月條.

According to the above-mentioned record, we can see how the great scale of trade was, on the ground of the fact that one hundred of Ta'sik people had come and gone once at a time. But the reason why Ta'sik's visiting to Koryo's shores recorded no more than three times means that they could not continue to trade with Koryo, for it is caused by the Intermediate-Trade, which trading between Koryo and Ta'sik at that time were performed by Sung merchants. (Kim, Sang Ki, 65)

The activities of Koryo merchants in China were less active than those of the end of Shilla era. At that time the commodities of China's demand were in most cases met by Sung prior to waiting the activities of Koryo merchants. Although the activities of Koryo merchants were passive, they played important roles in trading with East Asian countries. In other words, Koryo opened the Ho-si (互市), mutual market system with Lio(遼)and Chin(金) through northwest overland route and traded with Sung through southwest sea route. In Ming Jou(明州) at the end of Southern-Sung for example, Koryo ships were levied on only 1/19 Entrance-Tax, comparing with other foreign ships which levied mostly on 1/15 Entrance-Tax. It is believed that, as Ming Jou was an important center for trading with Koryo, Sung gave Koryo ships, which its coming in and out was frequent at that time, a special tax privileges. According to Dongkukisangkukjib(東國李相國集) in Korean history, Lee kyu Bo(李圭報) says that Koryo peoples' comings and goings with southern strange countries by sea route was easy and frequent, by virtue of his following mention, like that. (Kim, Sang Ki, 68-69)

Even if the Trade pattern between Koryo and Sung took a tribute-trade form, it is one of the greatest characteristics that Koryo took the practical advantages at the cost of giving a political euphemism for Sung. Koryo's export goods in this trade consisted of domestic goods and manufactured goods. Domestic goods included gold(金), silver (銀), bronze(銅), ginseng(人蔘), pinecone(松子), munpi(文皮), yellow lacquer(黃漆), and sulfur(硫黃), etc. While manufactured goods consisted of various colored and thin satin(綾羅), thin and ramie fabric(細中苧麻布), white paper(白紙), perfumed oil(香油), golden, silver of bronze vessel(金銀銅器), handiwork (細工品), mother-of pearl work (螺鈿器具), rush mat(莞草度), fan(扇子), gold or silver encased ornamental knife(金銀粧刀), rangmipil, writing brush made of wolf's hair (浪尾筆), songyunmuk, ink stick made of pine soot(松煙墨) etc. Among the import goods from Sung, including silk and satin(綾絹綾羅) in its main items, which had been famous for international exporting items from the ancient times in China and porcelain(磁器)7), which developed especially in Sung Dynasty, gold foil(金箔), medical stuffs(藥材), tea(茶), book(書籍), musical instrument (樂器) and gold or silver coins (金銀錢) etc.. Especially the Southwest Asian products among the import goods attract our attention. Although those are imported directly by Ta'sik merchant two or three times, it seems likely that the Intermediate-Trade was carried out by chiefly Sung merchants. Among the tribute items(進獻品) of Sung are smelling medicine(香樂), East-India's spice (沈香), rhinoceros horn(犀角), ivory(象牙), parrot(鸚鵡) and peacock(孔雀) etc. These facts can be seen as an evidence which both Ta'sik merchants in Kwang Jou, Cheun Jou, Ming Jou and Hang Jou etc. and merchants in a third country had performed an Intermediate Trade. (Kim, Sang Ki, 77-78)

Ⅳ. Commercial Relations between Korean and Muslim

1. Historical Contacts with Shilla people and Muslim

Tracing the racial origin of the Korean race and Muslim today, it seems that some of them have the same origin, Ural-Altaic. Among the four factors which had played decisive roles in building up the early Korean culture, if exclude the ironware Culture, we can see that the Neolithic, the Bronze and the Buddhist Cultures had directly or indirectly been in contact with the culture where the early Muslim ancestors had lived. Hundreds of the ancient and medieval remains in Western Culture have been excavated one after another in Korean Peninsula, as if to verify the above-mentioned historical relation. The meeting and cultural exchange had been achieved in many field evenly among all from the earthenware of teeth of a comb, metal work and handicraft techniques to the folk games like a lion's masquerade and throwing pole etc. All things considered, the historical starting point have the meeting and cultural exchange between Korean and Muslim goes back to the ancient times. As having been established the origin of contacts between the East and the West earlier as like this, the meeting and cultural exchange between Korea and Muslim had been realized easily and naturally after the rise of Islam in the mid-7th century, and they also have been continued till the recent years. (Mohammad Kanso 1988, 9)

Up to now, the academic circles has generally acknowledged that the first mention concerning the name of 'Korea' known to the West was accomplished by Rubruquis's referring8), as like “Kauli or Kaoli, a country where composed of the Island." in his travel book and the first Western person had come to Korea was Hendric Hamel who drifted out the shore of Jeju Island (濟州島) in January, 1653. Recently, however, a Spanish missionary, Gregorio de Cespedes, who arrived at Ung-Cheon harbor located in the southern coast of Korea in December, 19, 1593 before 60 years earlier prior to Hendrik Hamel's visiting, had been known to us the first western person arrived at Korea.

This fact caused a great shock in the academic circles and is able to raise the upper limit in the historical meetings between Korea and the West. (Mohammad Kanso, 11) Among the western literatures, Marco Polo(1254-1324) had mentioned Kauli, which pronounced Koryo(高麗) by Chinese character in his travel book. But it is not certain that Kauli means whether Korea or another place. After that, it is said that Matouanlin, a historian mentioned Korea about the mid-13th century. (Kim Jong-Wee 1989, 366) Before six or seven hundred years ago, however, not only the name of country that was exactly transcribed as Shilla(新羅), by Arabic language but also the valuable facts of Muslim's comings and goings to Shilla and the various records about it were well preserved in Arabic literatures.

Considering these facts, it can be said that the new findings gave an academic circles a great shock. Because the ancient history about the mutual relations between Korea and Muslim world only had mentioned it as a mystery as to the long history of the contacts. (Mohammad Kanso, 11) The first record written by Arabian person about Muslim's comings and goings to the Korean Peninsula is found in Ibn Khurdazibahs (820-912) book, Book of the Roads and Empires (Kitab al-maslik wa-l-manalic)9).

In his book, he said "...The place where across the far edge of China has a great deal of mountains and kings, and this place is very Shilla. The country has lots of gold, and if Muslims entered into there once, Sheila's fascination made them settle and do not know after it..." In this paragraph, we can find the word of "Shilla". (Mohammad Kanso, 11-12)

Almalik walmamalik - Ibn Khurdazibah

Source: Khurdazibahs (820-912) book, Book of the Roads and Empires, P. 70.


These facts can be more precisely proved by W.C. Brice's historical map. According to his 'An Historical Atlas of Islam Maps', we can find the name of SILLA in Map of Muslim Expansion until A.D. 661. Again, we can find the same name of SILLA in the Map of the Umayyad Empire c.A.D.750. Its name changed into KAOLI in the Map of the Late Abbasid Caliphate c.A.D.900 and the Map of Almoravid, Saldjuk, and Ghaznavid Expansion c.A.D. 1100. In the Map of the Muslim World c.A.D. 1300, the name of KAOLI changed KORYO that means KOREA. These records are well-grounded sources that Muslim already had known Korea and contacted with Korean people in those days.

Sources: W. C. Brice. An Historical Atals of Islam Maps, Muslim Expansion untill A.D. 661, http://www. founders. 00-08-15.

Besides this, many Muslim scholars have handed down the other records about Shilla. Among them and their works are as follows; Sulaiman al-Tajirs (? -?) Akhbar al-sin wal-hind, 851, Ibn Rustas (? -912 A.D.) Kitab a'laq al-nafish, 903, Al-Masaudis (? -965) Murujal-ahahab wa-ma'adin al-jaubar and al-tanbih wa'l-ishraf, Mutahhar ibn Tahir al-Magdisis (? -?) Kitab al-bad'wal-tarikh, 966, Abl-Faraj ibn al-Nadims (? -995) Al-Fihrist, 977, Al-Idrisis (? -1166) Nuzhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq, 1154, Zakarija Qazwinis (1203-1283) Aja'ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara'ib al-mawjudat and Athar al-bilad, Ibn Saids (1213-1386) Kitab al-jughrafiya fi'l-aqalim al-sab'a, Rashduddin Fadlallahs (1247-1318) Jami'al-tawarikh, Dimashkis (his real name is Abu Abdu'l Llah Mohammad ibn Abi Talibi'l Ansari (? -1327) Nukhabat al-dahr  fi'aja'ib wa'l-bahr, Ahmad al-Nuwayri's(?-1332) Nihayat al-'Arab fi funun al-adab, Abul Fida's(1273-1331) Taqwin al-buldan, Ibn Khaldun's(1332-1406) Kitab al-'Ibar', 'Abd al-Rashid ibn Salih al-Bakuwi's(?-?) Talkhis al-athar wa-'aja'ib al-malik al-quhhar, Al-Maqrizi's (1364-1442) al-mawa'iz l-i'tibar fi dhikr al-khitat wa'l-athar and Abul-Fazl's (? -1602) Akhbar nama. (Kim Jong-Wee, 375-385)

Especially Rashduddin Fadallah (1247-1813) called the exact country name of "Koryo" for the first time in his book, General History (Jami'al-Tawarikh) among the Middle Eastern scholars. In accordance with Dimashki's mention as if the believers of Allittes had taken refuge to Shilla, Ahmadu'l Nuwayri (? -1332) who was the greatest author in Egypt, also analogized that the inhabitants of Shilla or some of them were descendants of Alli from the Arabs. It must be true that the expression, which they were descendants of Alli, is exaggerated conjecture. But otherwise it can be considered as a kind of suggestions to support the point that Muslim had gone to Shilla is true historically. (Mohammad Kanso, 15)

We can consider also the possibility of Muslims' direct comings to Korea. Those who could come to Korea might almost be merchants engaged in the trade between the East and the West with China for a basis. Among our historical materials in Korean history, Koryosa(高麗史) mentioned for the first time about Ta'sik country. The record in Koryosa concerning Ta'sik merchants', arriving at Koryo in the early time of Koryo Dynasty has ever seen in my paper. According to it, one hundred of merchants had come with lots of trading merchandise. It also gives us fancy suggestions that not only they had too much known about the information of Koryo's trading in advance but also it was not the first visit, and before it, there had been several comings and goings individually or collectively. Even if they could have had good changes to trade with Koryo in accordance with the active trade relations between Koryo and Sung, Ta'sik merchants who were experienced with calculation of loss and gain could never make a venture without precedents. Considering the above period when it was at the early times of Koryo, it is certainly reasonable to analogy that there had already been similar trading visits during the Unified Shilla era before Koryo.

Moreover, Shilla was famous for 'A Country of Gold', as well as its trade with T'ang and Sung was booming actively. At the time when the merchandise of Shilla including ginseng, pottery, silk and its civilization had been exported to Arabia or Persia, Muslims could not become a matter of concern and interest about Shilla in the eyes of Muslims who came to China, far from their countries on a large scale and engaged in trading with them. Thus this fact has a high possibility that Muslims might come to Shilla in order to trade with Koryo people. In addition to it, Muslims had the command of the sea in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific and played an active role at will without a rival. It gives us the objective possibility of their contacts with Shilla. As it generally known, for hundreds of years till the western person made their appearance in the East from 8th century to 14th century, Muslims had stretched their stages of overseas trade to the whole area of the Western Pacific including the Southern China Sea as well as the Indian Ocean. Muslims who continued the voyage to the far east of Chinese Continent over one or two years with the hope for trade relations, could not exclude the trade with Shilla, where could arrived within 4 or 5 days voyage. On the ground of which Shilla was called as "A Pasture of Gold" or "A Treasure Country" at that time, Muslims might have stepped there foots in to Shilla. (Mohammad Kanso, 17-18)

2. Trade between Korean and Muslim

During the medieval ages, especially before and after 10th century when it was a golden age in Islamic Civilization, the activities of Muslim merchants in the Indian Ocean and the west coast of the Pacific Ocean were very brilliant. These activities had continued until the Portuguese and the western merchants appeared in these areas. If Cheo Yong(處容) with the shape of 'deep eyes and high nose'(深目高鼻) appeared as a stranger in Shilla at the end of 9th century, judging from this situation, he could not be a western person but a Muslim merchant in nine cases of ten. (Mohammad Kanso, 34)

After Shilla unified the three kingdoms, she had been more close relation to T'ang. The envoys, merchants, students and monks had come and gone frequently between two countries. Not only the monks and students but also general citizens of Shilla entered into T'ang in large number. As they lived in the various places in China from the upper class, the royal family to the low class, servants, they obtained various status and occupations there. Especially, a large number of monks went to China in order to study the Buddhist Canon(佛經). Hecho(慧招) who is famous for Wang O Cheun Chuk Kuk Jeun(往五天竺國傳) is one of them. We can, thus, guess that Shilla was closely connected with T'ang. (Koh Byung-Ik 1988, 48-51) For Shilla was located near by China and had many relations with her historically, we can also easily find the examples of Muslims' appearance in China. Chien I(錢易) said that in his book, Nan Bu Shin Shu(南部新書) as follows;  

“大中(847-859)以來, 禮部放牓, 歲取三二人 姓氏稀僻者, 謂之色目人, 亦謂曰牓花”

According to the above inscription, two or three men among the successful candidates in the every year -State Examination of the Ceremonies Board since Dae Jung (大中; 847-859) in the end of T'ang- were the colored eyes-people, Saek Mok In10)(色目人) with the unique and different family name. (Mohammad Kanso, 35)

At that time, as Ul san(蔚山) was a center of industry and commerce, near by Kyung Ju(慶州), political center in Shilla, and had a very good natural harbor and merits as an important place of island traffic, she had a optimum conditions as the international trade port. Therefore it was sure that Japan and T'ang that had trade relations and frequent traffic with Shilla, made use of Ul San, the international port. Accordingly Japan and China as well as Muslims who would come to Shilla as a leader of the East-West Trade at that time, might use this port without exceptions. By the way, attracting our attention is export goods of Shilla among the export-import items, like ginseng, gold or silver pocketknife, silk and pottery etc., which Ibn Khurdazibah mentioned in his book, Kitab al-Maslik wa'l-Mamalik. This fact tells us that the trade was carried out between Shilla and Muslim, and especially in commercial relations between Ul San and the Middle East. Moreover, Firind11), a kind of sword that Shilla exported to the Middle East, was famous for a special product of Ul San from the ancient times.   Arab-Muslims considered the sword as a means of main weapon in War and preserving it as a commodity for respect and self-protection. Even nowadays Yemenis and Omanis in Gulf region are wearing a knife (Jambia) as a personal ornaments. Therefore Muslims cannot help stirring up their curiosity for Shilla's sword12) of a good quality and being in the spotlight of their import goods. (Mohammad Kanso, 31)

At any rate, the possibility, which Muslims had come to Shilla, became clarified earlier through Korean, Chinese and Arabic literatures in Medieval Ages. The trade pattern, however, is the problem whether Shilla had performed Direct-Trade with the Middle East of Indirect-Trade. As earlier seen, in the late of T'ang, Shilla traded with Muslim countries through Dung Jou, Yang Jou and Chu Jou etc., and Sung also traded with Southwest Asian countries through Kwang Jou, where Ta'sik's activities had been vivacious. In relation to this, it has been reported that one hundred of Ta'sik merchants had come and gone to Koryo, as earlier seen in Koryosa's record.

Judging from the fact, it is possible that the trade pattern with the Middle East in Shilla era was likely to being carried out by Indirect-Trade, through Intermediate-Trade between T'ang and Muslim, rather than Direct-Trade. On the evidence of Ibn Khurdazibah's record, as saying "...and if Muslims entered into there once, Shilla's fascination made them settle... ", It is likely to giving proof the facts. Although Shilla carried out Direct-Trade with the Middle Eastern countries, it is assumed that its gravity was not more than the pattern of Direct-Trade. Because Shilla merchants took the commodities of T'ang, They also exchanged their commodities with Ta'sik merchants through trading center in China. Therefore it is possible to guess that the time when established full scale Direct-Trade would be a period of Koryo Dynasty, after that time.

As an example of giving proof the above-mentioned facts, my paper suggested export-import goods, which able to compare Korean trade with Muslim, trade. Among the import goods from China to Islamic countries, there were perfume plant, sword, silk, porcelain, pottery, paper, ink stick(songyunmuk, 松煙墨), rhubarb, saddle, felt, cinnamon, hawk and spices etc.. Among the common export-import goods between Korea (Shilla and Koryo) and China (T'ang and Sung), there were white paper, ginseng, porcelain, gold or silver pocketknife, ink stick and hawk etc. Especially among Koryo's import goods from Sung, the items of Ta'sik's Intermediate Trade are contained and these are smelling medicine, East-India's spice, rhinoceros horn, ivory, parrot and peacock etc. On account of this trade, I think that the possibility which Korea had exported her products to the Middle East is very high and the items consist of paper, ginseng13), gold or silver pocketknife, ink stick and hawk etc. Considering Ibn Khurdazibah's following record, the possibility of trade between Shilla and the Islamic World is very high.

We can confirm the 10 items that were imported from Shilla to the Arab World through the above-mentioned Ibn Khurdazibah's record. It is nearly certain that Korean ginseng, sword (firind), silk fabrics, porcelain and hawk might be exported into the Middle East. Therefore I suggest that trade relations between Korea and the Middle East go back to the Unified Shilla era.

Ⅴ. Conclusion

According to W.C. Brices Map of Muslim Expansion until A.D. 661, Muslims already knew Korea as the name of Silla. We also came to know that historically Go Sun Ji who was a T'ang's commander from Kokryo's migrant in 751 A.D realized the first contact between Korean and Muslim. However we cannot knew precisely when and where they were met in history.

Although the time is not surely known to us, the contact was proved by the Arabic literatures that Muslim had come to Korea in Shilla Era. In this point, Ibn Khurdazibah's historic record and commercial activities between Shilla and T'ang give us valuable evidence the commercial relation between Korean and Muslim. Confining the scope of my study in the medieval Islamic period, my paper came to draw following conclusions.

First, the origin of commercial relations between Korean and Muslims goes back to Shilla era. As for the discontinuation of it, Islam fallen into a decline before and after 12th century and, in return of that, Western Empires became to get the command of the sea. After that, Korean trading had faced with the boundary of their activity till the Second World War.

Second, considering mutual commercial relations between Shilla, China and the Middle East, we can see that the import goods from Korea to the Middle East were ginseng, gold or silver pocketknife (Firind), silk fabrics, pottery and hawk etc.

Finally, the products which including smelling medicine, East-India's spice, rhinoceros horn, ivory, parrot, and peacock etc. were imported to Korea as the commodities of Muslim's trade. But the special products of the Middle East did not be found in the above-mentioned sources.

* Bibliography

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