The Ancient Kingdom of Silla
In the ancient world, the Korean kingdom of Silla (57 B.C.–A.D. 935) was renowned as a country of gold. It was also one of the world’s longest sustained dynasties 992-year. Muslim traders brought the name “Silla” to the world outside the traditional East Asian sphere through the Silk Road. Before that they may have traded with the Ancient Roman and other Western civilizations because of the glasses found in tombs. Buddhism was formally adopted by Silla in 527, though it had been exposed to the religion for over a century during which the faith had certainly made inroads into the native populace. It was the Buddhist monk Ado who first exposed Silla to Buddhism when he arrived to proselytize from Goguryeo, the capital city in the mid-5th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had a show call “Silla Korean Gold Kingdom” Nov. 4, 2013 to Feb. 23, 2014. The exhibition featured several designated National Treasures and many works with few parallels outside of Korea, including a graceful and charming gilt-bronze sculpture of a bodhisattva in pensive pose, known as National Treasure 83. This blog will focus on the glass that was excavated from Tombs dating back to the second half of 5th century. Glass at that time produced in the eastern reaches of the Roman Empire, was one of the most valued and prized luxuries in Korea, as well as China and Japan, from the fourth to the eighth century. More than thirty Roman vessels have been excavated from Silla-period tombs.