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Temporary spirit tablet

Temporary spirit tablet of a deceased person made of white fabric for use at funeral rites before the sinju (Kor. 신주, Chin. 神主, spirit tablet) is made. Honbaek is a type of sinwi (Kor. 신위, Chin. 神位, spirit tablets) where the spirit of the deceased temporarily resided. In traditional funeral rites, the ancestral spirit is transferred to different objects in three stages until it is completely entrusted to the sinju, the spirit tablet proper. The first step is to transfer the spirit of the decease

Korean Rites of Passage


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


General Nam I Ritual

Nam I Janggun Sadangje (Kor. 남이장군사당제, Chin. 南怡將軍祠堂祭, lit. service at the Shrine of General Nam I) refers to a ceremony that honors the memory of the famous general Nam I (1441-1468) of the early Joseon period (1392- 16th century). Nam I, a brave general who was accused of treason and executed, was deified and worshipped in the shamanistic faith of the central regions along with other illustrious military heroes of the past, such as Choe Yeong (1316-1388) and General Im Gyeong-eop (1594-1646). Th

Korean Seasonal Customs


Rite for Tutelary Spirit of Eunsan

Eunsan Byeolsinje is a traditional communal rite observed in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province, designated as Important Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 9. Some trace the origins of this village ritual to the rise of the town of Eunsan as a center of transport and commerce during the Joseon dynasty, or to a series of wars that led to the sacrifice of myriad soldiers whose soul needed appeasing. It appears that the ritual’s procedure began from dongje (village tutelary ritual), comprising a ritua

Korean Folk Beliefs


Brother Sister Pagoda

This legend narrates the story of Nammaetap (Brother Sister Pagoda), erected to commemorate a Buddhist monk and a maiden who became sworn siblings and pursued religious discipline until they died on the very same day. According to oral transmission, the protagonist of this legend is Monk Sangwon of late Silla. Sangwon was engaged in religious discipline in a tent put up near the current location of Nammaetap when he happened to meet a maiden, together with whom he practiced religious devotion an

Korean Folk Literature


Kite Flying

Yeonnalligi (Kor. 연날리기, Chin. 鳶-, kite flying) is a popular folk game played in winter. The frame of the kite is made with thin bamboo pieces, and the kite is controlled by winding and unwinding its string around a reel. The oldest surviving record concerning kite flying is found in the biography of Kim Yu-sin (595-673) in the “Samguk Sagi” (Kor. 삼국사기, Chin. 三國史記, History of the Three Kingdoms, 1145). Historically, kites were flown for military purposes. In ancient documents and books, kites are

Korean Seasonal Customs


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