Gyerim Grove and Anapji Pond


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Gyerim Grove and Anapji Pond

 


The Gyeongju Historic Areas, included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, contains relics of gardens from the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935). Situated around Wolseong, the site of the Silla royal palace from 101 to 935, are Gyerim Grove and Anapji, the pond of Silla's East Palace. During the Silla period, the pond was known as Wolji or "Moon Pond," and it was not until the Joseon era that poets and men of letters started to call it Anapji, "Wild Goose and Duck Pond," for its abundant growth of reeds and duckweed that made it a popular rest stop for wild geese and ducks.
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The 7,723-square-meter Gyerim is Gyeongju's sacred woodland area and the birthplace of Kim Al-ji, founder of the illustrious Gyeongju Kim clan. Thick with zelkova trees and wangbeodeul (salix Koreensis Anderss.), it is known as Korea's oldest woodland. Moreover, from A.D. 65 to 307, Gyerim was used as the name of the Silla Kingdom itself. Home to the oldest trees of all Korea's ancient gardens, this grove is steeped in legend.
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The remains of Anapji, the pond of Silla's East Palace, were uncovered by an excavation team in 1975. According to Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), in the 12th month of the 14th year of King Munmu's reign (A.D. 674), "a pond was dug within the palace grounds, where artificial mountains were constructed, and flowers, rare birds, and deer brought." The section on Gyeongju in the Donggungnyeoji-seungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea) states: "Anapji lies to the north of Cheonjusa Temple, where King Munmu created a pond within the palace grounds, piled up stones to make mountains symbolizing the 12 peaks of Mt. Musan (Wuehan in Chinese), and brought in flowers and birds. To the west is the site of Imhaejeon Pavilion, whose stone foundation and steps remain in an open field." Anapji Pond extends some 190 meters from east to west as well as north to south, encompassing an area of 15,658 square meters and with stone-trimmed banks. To the east and north of the pond, artificial mountains were built to symbolize the 12 peaks of Mt. Musan, while palace buildings stood to the west and south. The sloped eastern bank resembled an exquisitely curved coastline, and within the pond were three islands symbolizing Samsinsan, or "Three God Mountains." Along the banks of the pond and the slopes of the man-made mountains were three beautiful arrangements of about a thousand uniquely shaped rocks, each a little less than a man's height.
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Anapji was a garden conceived as a scaled-down version of the world of Taoist immortals. The method of arranging the intriguingly shaped rocks is similar to a technique described in the oldest record of Japanese gardening, the 11th-century Skuteiki. From this source, we can see that the entrance where the water flowed in was also similar to a Japanese garden. It seems likely that Korean garden landscaping influences were eventually transmitted to Japan.

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