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Book of a Thousand Characters by a Thousand People

A book of a thousand Chinese characters, each written by a different person as a prayer for the health, longevity, and well-being of a newborn baby. “Cheonin-cheonjamun” is a book produced as a result of the efforts of the grandfather or the father of a newborn baby who ask a thousand acquaintances in person to ask each of them to write a single letter from “Cheonjamun.” The book embodies the grandfather’s and father’s wishes for the wisdom of the one thousand people who wrote the characters to

Korean Rites of Passage


Earthenware Jar

Danji is an earthenware jar that is worshipped as a sacred entity enshringing a household god, or as the deity itself. These jars are small and round, bulging around the center, and their names vary according to the enshrined deity. Daegamdanji is the sacred entity for Daegamsin (State Official God), who oversees a family’s material fortune. This jar is usually enshrined in the grain shed, but sometimes in a corner of the inner chamber, the open hall, the kitchen, or outdoors in some cases. The

Korean Folk Beliefs


Memorial rite on the second death anniversary

The ancestral memorial rite held on the second death anniversary of an ancestor Literally meaning “extremely auspicious day, ” daesang refers to an ancestral memorial rite performed on the second death anniversary of an ancestor. Without counting leap months, it is held twenty-five months after the funeral. On the day, the participants are required to wear special ceremonial garments called dambok, which are made of fine fabric woven with black threads as the warp and white as the weft. A very i

Korean Rites of Passage


Flower Card Game

Hwatu (Kor. 화투, Chin. 花鬪, lit. flower fight) is a game played with a deck of forty-eight cards comprising twelve sets of four cards, each set representing one of the twelve months of the year. Each card has images of flowers or plants associated with the corresponding month on its face. Pine trees are the motif of the January cards; plum flowers, February; cherry blossoms, March; black bush clovers, April; orchids, June; peonies, July; red bush clovers, July; full moon, August; chrysanthemums, S

Korean Seasonal Customs


Geumneung Binnae Nongak

Nongak (farmers’ music) handed down in Gwangcheon-dong, Gaeryeongmyeon, Gimcheon in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. Binnae Nongak was designated Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 8 of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province in December 1984. Binnae is the original name of Gwangcheon-dong. Nongak was performed in the village on the sixth day of the first lunar month when the rite to the village tutelary deity (dongje) was held. Located on low lying land the village frequently suffered from flooding and the bitsingut

Korean Folk Arts


Bride’s post-wedding journey to the groom’s home

Bride’s journey from her maiden home to the groom’s home, where she will spend the rest of her life, after marriage. The time of a bride’s departure for the groom’s home after marriage varies greatly. Some newly married women spent a year at home before going to live with her in-laws for the rest of her life (which is called muk-sinhaeng or haemugi), while others spend a month (dalmugi) or three days (samil-sinhaeng). When the bride moves to the groom’s home the same day as the wedding it is cal

Korean Rites of Passage


Jindo Sopo Geolgun Nongak

Nongak (farmers’ music) handed down in Sopo-ri, Jisan-myeon, Jindo, Jeollanam-do Province. The origins of Jindo Sopo Geolgun Nongak can be found in the righteous army soldiers (uibyeong) who disguised themselves as nongak troupes performing to raise money or collect rice during the Japanese invasions (1592-98) as a way to scout enemy positions and implement their battle strategies. In this regard, an historical document describing nongak as a military strategy remains. It is an untitled document

Korean Folk Arts