Monday, Feb 10, 2014, 18:52:42

Jikji, a Korean Zen Buddhist dokument printed in 1377 should come back to Korea.

Jikji  is the abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document, whose title can be translated "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings". Printed during the Goryeo Dynasty in 1377, it is the world's oldest extant book printed with movable metal type. Unesco confirmed Jikji as the world's oldest metalloid type in September 2001.
 It was published in Heungdeok Temple in 1377, 78 years prior to Gutenbergs's acclaimed Bible printed during the years 1452–1455. The greater part of the Jikji is now lost, and today only the last volume survives, and is kept at the Manuscrits Orientaux division of the National Librery of France.
The French do not allow any historians or scientists to even get near it. It is strictly under lock and key in the cellar.
How did the document get there?
Well.
According to UNESCO records, the Jikji “had been in the collection of Victor Collin de Plancy, a chargé d'affaires with the French Embassy in Seoul in 1887 during the reign of King Gojong . The book then passed into the hands of Henri Véver, a collector of classics, in an auction at Hotel Drouot in 1911, and when he died in 1950, it was donated to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, where it has been ever since.
The right of ownership remains disputed, with the French National Library maintaining that the Jikji should remain in France, while Korea argues it should belong to Korea. The National Library of France says that as an important historical artifact of all of humankind, the Jikji should remain in France as it represents a common, worldwide heritage, and does not belong to any one country. In addition, they claim the Jikji would be better preserved and displayed in France because of the prestige and resources the Library possesses. On the other hand, Korea claims that it should belong to its country of origin and that it carries historical significance for the Korean people.
The controversy has an ecellent precedence namemly the return by Denmark of the handwritten Icelandic Sagas to Iceland, but due to strong resistance in Copenhagen it took 10 years until the first books reached Reykjavik in 1971.
The Sagas of Icelanders (Íslendingasögur) handwritten documents —many of which are also known as family sagas—are prose histories mostly describing events that took place in Iceland in the 10th and early 11th centuries. These fantastic ducuments belong home in Iceland, just like the Jikji belong home in Korea.


By

Gabor Fabricius
p.s.
The Jikji was written by the Buddhist monk Baegun (1298–1374, Buddhist name Gyeonghan), who served as the chief priest of Anguk and Shingwang temples in Haeju , and was published in two volumes in Seongbulsan in 1372. Baegun died in Chwiam Temple inYeoju  in 1374.

 

 

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