The culture of Buddhism and its history have been marginalized in the collective memories of the Chosŏn period. Due to the inclination of contemporary research to depend on official records, the patterns of Confucian biases have come to persist in current research. This article examines the ideological biases and the historiographical legacy of the Chosŏn wangjo sillok, a source that has been privileged in the study of Chosŏn history and society. In light of the ideologically driven historiography of the Sillok, this article argues for a nuanced understanding of Chosŏn history and a reconsideration of the social and cultural role of Chosŏn Buddhism during a time that has generally been accepted as a period of Buddhist decline. Through alternative sources of history and new approaches to understanding Chosŏn Buddhism, we are afforded a look into a side of Buddhist culture that endured. For instance, the literary culture of poetry exchanges, the tradition of scholar-officials composing biographical introductions to the collected works of eminent monks (munjip), and the sponsorship of temple works by the sociopolitical elites reveals a Buddhism that existed in the private social (sa) realm that were excluded from the government records and thus, so far, overlooked.

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