Tombstone of King Munmu

unknownUnified Silla, 681 or 682

Gyeongju National Museum

Gyeongju National Museum
Gyeongju-si, South Korea

This tombstone was erected as an historic site in memory of King Munmu. It is engraved with his achievements as king, his will, and the genealogy of the royal families of Silla. The last lines of the epitaph read: “The remains of the king were cremated and his ashes scattered in the sea.” The epitaph was written by an individual surnamed Kim, deputy director of the National Confucian College and they were hand carved by Han Nul-yu, who held the title Daesa, a twelfth-level official. The Joseon-era public official Hong Yang-ho (a.k.a Igye, 1724-1802) tried and failed to find the tombstone when he served as a magistrate in Gyeongju, but pieces of the tombstone were found as much as 36 years later, as detailed in Writings of Igye. The Joseon epigraphist Kim Jeong-hui (1786-1856) said in his Book on Epigraphy that the lower part of the tombstone was found in 1817. A rubbing of an inscription on the stone was transmitted to the Qing dynasty and mentioned in Compilation of Korean Epigraphy written by Liu Xihai (1794-1852). Kim Jeong-hui believed that the tombstone had been erected in 687, noting that it fit the base found in the southern part of Nangsan Mountain. The base fitted to the tombstone by Kim is a turtle-shaped tombstone base believed to have been situated before the site of the temple of the Four Heavenly Kings. But the tombstone of King Munmu was lost once again and only its rubbing had been passed down until the lower and the upper parts were found in 1961 and 2009, respectively.


  • Title: Tombstone of King Munmu
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: Unified Silla, 681 or 682
  • Location: Iljeong-ro 186, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
  • Type: tombstone
  • Medium: W 94.0cm

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