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Haedong kosŭng chŏn, on Buddhism in Korea  


The Lives of Eminent Korean Monks is a compilation of biographies of Buddhist monks from the Three Kingdoms period of Korean history (first century BCE through the tenth century CE). It ... More

“Inquiry on The Great Learning”  

Wang Yang-ming

By the era of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the prevailing orthodox philosophy was Neo-Confucianism, and its master was Chu Hsi (1130–1200). Neo-Confucianism held that there was an ... More

“Khubilai Khan at War”  

Marco Polo

Marco Polo (1254–1324) was a member of a clan of Venetian merchants, who had been active in trade in the Middle East for some decades. Polo claims to have accompanied his father and uncle ... More

A Korean Foundation Myth  


Many foundation myths around the world link a dynasty or nation’s founder to the divine or magical. The foundation myth of Korea is no exception. Korean mythology dates Tangun to the year ... More

The Land System—A Dissenting View and Memorial on the Crop Loans Measure  

Su Hsün and Wang An-shih

The two documents presented here provide insight into a debate with a long history in China: land reform. The fiscal health of the government depended on the existence of a large class of ... More

Nihongi Shoki (Chronicles of Japan)  


The Nihon Shoki is the first official history of Japan. It draws on numerous sources, including Chinese histories, clan histories, and the accounts of religious authorities. While it ... More

Nihongi, Book XXV  


Around 500 CE, a wave of immigrants and cultural influence from the Korean kingdom of Paekche entered Japan from the southwest, bringing with it new technology for metal weapons. The influx ... More

On Personal Piety  

Yi Kyu-bo

The author of this personal essay was Yi Kyu-bo (1168 – 1241), a poet, essayist, and critic in the Koryo kingdom of Korea. He was also a high-ranking civil servant, who passed the ... More

Poetry of the Tang Dynasty  

Du Fu; Li Bo

The Tang period (618–960) witnessed a renaissance of poetry, oftentimes compressing vivid natural imagery and poignant emotion into short pieces of only a few verses. The poetry of Li Bo ... More

The Tale of Genji  

Murasaki Shikibu

The daughter of a minor noble in the court at Heian-Kyo in central Japan, Murasaki Shikibu (ca. 973–1025) created Japan’s most popular work of fiction and one of the world’s great literary ... More

The Tale of Genji, “The Picture Competition”  

Murasaki Shikibu

Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji is a product of Japan’s Heian period (794–1185). In that era, Japan was greatly influenced by Chinese governmental and cultural forms, which were ... More

The Tale of the Heike  


The Tale of the Heike is the most famous of a whole set of medieval Japanese war tales. It tells the story of the Gempei War (1180–1185), the culmination of a civil war that ... More


Marco Polo

By 1260 the Mongol Empire in the west stopped expanding; in the east the conquest of southern Song China in 1278 by Genghis Khan’s grandson Kubilai effectively ended Mongol expansion. Even ... More