Who is the tribe of Malgal[Mohe]?


Prof. Han Giu-cheol

Kyungsung Univ. Korea


    Who is the tribe of Malgal[Mohe]? This question of who is Malgal is crucial to study on the medieval history of Primorski? The tribal name of Malgal was recorded in the Beijishu Wucheongdiji (the second year of Heqing) in A.D.563. And its official appearance was in the Sushu Dongyiliezhan. Those materials show that the territory of Malgal is larger than that of Sushen and Yilou which were supposed to be the ancestors of Malgal. Samguksaki, the oldest materials of Korean history, also records its existence. And the Malgal in Samguksaki played an active role during the periods before Christ, even when not recorded on the historical materials of China. Many scholars attempt to reconstruct who the tribe of Malgal really was by referring to Chinese materials.

    According to Chinese materials, Malgal was called Sushen before Qin dynasty(B.C. 249-207), Yilou during Han(B.C. 206-A.D.24), Wuji during Late Wei(386-534), Malgal during Sui-Tang dynasty(581-907), and Jurchen after the fall of Parhae(Bohai).

    The records from those historical materials show that the people of Malgal and Parhae lived there during the medieval period of Primorski, from the sixth century, A.D. to the tenth century, A.D.. Therefore, the studying of the medieval culture of Primorski must be concentrated on that of Malgal and Parhae. During the period when Parhae was dominant, the culture of Parhae was distinguished from that of Malgal just as the culture of Jin dynasty from that of Jurchen. However, many scholars believe that Parhae and Jin dynasty were founded by the people of Malgal and Jurchen. In spite that their cultures appeared in the same period, why do they believe that the culture of Parhae is different from that of Malgal just as the culture of Jurchen were distinguished from that of Jin? Their confusion may come from the fact that what Malgal really was is not so clarified as to convince scholars of a complete concurrence on the subject.

    There are two different camps that Parhae scholars tell the culture of Malgal from that of Parhae. One is that both Parhae, the name of dynasty, and Malgal were generally considered the same because the scholars think Parhae was built by Malgal. The other is that only Heishui Malgal was Malgal. Although it is hard for me to think that Parhae and Malgal are the same, it would be reasonable to regard the culture of pre-Parhae as that of Malgal. In addition, we must not overlook that the culture of Malgal included the Weimo culture of Koguryo. In other words, we can not distinguish the culture of Parhae from that of Malgal, certainly. For example, some Chinese archaeologists insist that some tombs in Chaliba, Yingji, Jirinsheng of China should be of Malgal origin among most tombs of that of Parhae origin. Because of the historical attempts to distinguish the developed culture of the ruling class from the undeveloped culture of the ruled, they tend to distinguish the culture of Malgal from that of Parhae. The same assumption may be applied to the difference of the culture of Jin dynasty from that of Jurchen. But it would be proper to call the culture, often the fall of Parhae till the establishment of Jin dynasty, as the culture of Jurchen. I think the culture of Jurchen is another name for Parhae remainders' culture. Jurchen is the name of those who could not be a part of the people of Qidan among Parhae remainders.

    There are various issues on studying the culture of Malgal and Jurchen caused by the problems on studying literary materials for history. Malgal and Jurchen should be studied according to the following considerations.

    First, Malgal, Yilou(the ancestor of Malgal) and Wuji are not the names called by themselves but called by others. Chinese used to call the tribes in the North-Eastern area depending on the change of their dynasties. For example, they were called Sushen before the Jin dynasty, Yilou during the Han, Wu ji during the Late Wei, Malgal during the Sui-Tang, and Jurchen after the fall of Parhae.

    Second, it is important to pay attention to the records on those tribes, in the North Eastern area of China, had changed according to the change of Chinese understanding brought by the extension of knowledge. According to Guoyu and Shanhaijing published in Zhanguo period, mentioning about Sushen, the first people of Malgal, Sushen was the name of the tribe who lived in Shandong and border of Liaoxi area. But according to Jinshu, written during the times of Tang, Sushen had changed into the undeveloped people in the mid. and lower area of the Amur river. Even though Sushen did not move to the Amur river from the South Manchuria, Chinese historical understanding had changed.

    Third, according as the historical records change, the understanding of Malgal's territory had also changed. At first, the areas where the people of Yilou and Wuji lived was range from the mid to lower part of the Amur river. But later, at the time of Malgal, the areas expanded to the whole Manchuria, where the 7 Malgal's tribes came to. The territory of Malgal at the time of Shu and Tang dynasty was the whole Manchuria including the area of Amur where the people of Yilou and Wuji resided, and the Songhwa river and Zhangbai mountain. Actually the change does not come the increase of its population or expansion of its territory, but from of the recorder's understanding of Malgal. It is important to note that there are many descendants of Yilou and Wuji as well as Weimo, the ancestors of Goguryo among the people of Malgal. The people's ratio of Puyeo(Fuyu) and Goguryo among Malgal, so called, is high. Consequently, Malgal is the comprehensive name of the whole peoples rather than one tribe.

    We can come to the conclusion that Malgal was the name of the whole peoples in the North-Eastern area at the time of Shu-Tang. The fact that Malgal and Jurchen were the comprehensive names of peoples in the North-Eastern area in China was already proved by Japanese Scholar, Hinokaizaburou and Chinese Scholar, Sunjinji. As Malgal is not the name of one people but diverse peoples' comprehensive name in the area, the territorial names like as Sumo, Baishan and Heishui appear to be important in the designation of 'Sumo Malgal', 'Baishan Malgal' and 'Heishui Malgal'. Therefore, finally, we can come to the conclusion that only Heishui is the former real-Malgal, and Sumo, Baishan and others are the people of Goguryo the descendants of Weimo.