Sunday, November 24, 2013

Love Letter to Eung-Tae

A poetic love letter written by a mourning Korean wife that was found beside the mummified body of the woman's husband has grabbed the limelight many a time since its discovery more than a decade ago.

Archaeologists at Andong National University found a 16th century male mummy in Andong City in South Korea in 2000. Along with it was a heart-rending letter written by the dead man's pregnant wife who poured out her grief into what has become a testament of loss, lamentation and berievement.
The 5-feet-9-inches mummy was identified as that of Eung-tae, after a total of 13 letters addressed to that name were found in the tomb.

From about dot com - the Tomb of Eung Tea

Eung Tae is the name of a 16th century elite member of the Joseon Dynasty, who was buried in the traditional neoConfucian manner called LSMB by archaeologists, resulting in the excellent preservation of his corpse and his grave goods. One of approximately 100 Joseon royal tombs excavated to date, Eung Tae's tomb is rare in that it contained perfectly preserved written documents, including letters written to the 31-year-old man from his family.
Eighteen letters found within the elite tomb of the Joseon dynasty member Eung Tae provide us with an intimate glimpse of medieval life in 16th century Korea.
Eung Tae was a member of the prominent Kosung Yi clan of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, when he died in 1586. As was traditional for elite members of society in those days, he was buried in nested pine coffins stuffed with clothing and sealed in a concrete-hard layer of lime and soil. That method led to preservation of his body and grave goods, which included 18 letters written to the deceased, detailing life and society in medieval Korea, and making fascinating reading for us today.

From Letters of Note - transcript of the letter
How could you pass away without me? Who should I and our little boy listen to and how should we live? How could you go ahead of me?

From Without Wax - another transcript of the letter

A mournful note and a pair of sandals from the 16th century have captivated South Korea. On June 1, 1586, a pregnant widow in the east wrote to her husband: "You always said you wanted to live with me until our hair turns gray. How could you pass away without me?" She left the letter in his tomb, along with shoes she'd made as a sign of love for her ailing spouse, woven from her hair and hemp bark. There they lay until the city of Andong began moving graves to make way for houses.

1 comment:

The Greenockian said...

Aw, how moving, but how wonderful that they have survived all these years.