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Geumgkwan – Gaya

The changing names of Gaya states

Names of States

The most famous ancient state in the Gimhae region was Geumgwan-gaya (金官加耶), which is mentioned in a section on the five Gayas in Samguk-yusa. The name Geumgwan-gaya is associated with the opposition against Silla between the end of the Silla Dynasty and the early days of the Goryeo era. As such, Geumgwan-guk (金官國) is implied to be a member of the Gaya Confederation.

What was the state's name in later eras when it continued to exist in the Gimhae region? According to the biography of Kim Yusin in Samguk-sagi, King Suro founded a state among the nine villages of Garak (駕洛), referred to it as "Gaya" (加耶), and later changed the name to "Geumgwan-guk (金官國)." "Garak" or "Gaya" may have been the name of the state at its founding and "Geumgwan" the name at the time when it fell.

The following state names from the Gimhae region appear in historical records: Gaya (加耶, 伽耶, 伽倻), Gara (加羅), Geumgwan (金官), Hagara-do (下加羅都), Garak (駕洛), Nam-gaya (南加耶), Imna-garyang (任那加良), Dae-garak (大駕洛), Nam-gara (南加羅), Sunara (須那羅), Sonara (素奈羅), Guya (狗邪), Imna-gara (任那加羅), and Imna (任那).

The names Guya, Gaya, Garak, and Imna-gara are names of Gaya states before the fourth century. Geumgwan, Sunara, Hagara-do, and Nam-gaya are state names from the late Gaya era after the fifth century.

Among the historical sources, Samguk-ji and Samguk-yusa mention the names of the early Gaya states; Nihon-shoki mentions state names from the late Gaya era; and Samguk-sagi mentions names from both eras. The only state of Gaya-guk that is mentioned in "Silla-bongi" in Samguk-sagi before the section on King Nahae in 212 A.D. is Gaya-guk. The same name appears in a section on King Soji in 481 A.D., when it is referred to as a domain of Goryeong.

In brief, the historical evidence suggests that before the fourth century the small states of the Gimhae region were known as "Garak-guk (駕洛國)," while during the late Gaya era of the fifth century the states were known as "Geumgwan-guk (金官國).