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Hemp cloth banner

A hemp cloth hung upon a long bamboo pole and used as a banner carried before a funeral bier at the time of barin (Kor. 발인, Chin. 發靷, departure of the funeral procession from the home to the burial site). Gongpo is made from a piece of loosely woven hemp, measuring 90 centimeters long, and is made by folding and stitching one of the sides to hold a bamboo pole and attaching a pair of tassels. The banner pole, made of bamboo, has a finial at the top. This banner is used to wipe dust or earth off

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


Three-Legged Crow

The legend of “Samjogo” narrates the story of an imaginary bird with three legs, believed to live on the sun, or to symbolize the sun. According to Chinese records, the concept of the three-legged crow came from the observation that the black spot on the sun resembled a crow, and that the number three in traditional cosmology indicates light, or yang energy, or that the number three itself indicates the sun. In Korea, images of the three- legged crow have been found in murals of Goguryeo tombs N

Korean Folk Literature


Boat Ritual

Baegosa is a worship ritual to pray for a big catch and safety on a boat. This ritual is held privately by boat owners to worship the boat guardian deity Baeseonang, or as part of communal rituals like pungeoje or dangje. As a private ritual, baegosa is observed on seasonal holidays, among which the biggest is held on Jeongwoldaeboreum (Great Full Moon) on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. It is also held when a new boat has been purchased or constructed; when setting out for a catch;

Korean Folk Beliefs


Bridal palanquin

A palanquin to take the bride to the groom’s home after the wedding ceremony. A mode of transport, the palanquin takes the form of a small litter on horizontal poles, carried by a group of bearers on their shoulders. During sinhaeng (Kor. 신행, C hin. 新行, post-wedding journey of the bride to the groom’s home), the bridal palanquin was marked with a cotton band tied in an X-shape all around the vehicle except the front, or a tiger skin covering the top. It was splendidly decorated with multiple col

Korean Rites of Passage


Coming-of-age ceremony for boys

The coming-of-age ceremony for male members of the Korean society in the past to celebrate their reaching the age of twenty, that is, adulthood. Gwallye was performed for boys who were soon to marry or who had reached the age of twenty. This coming-of-age ceremony for boys took place according to the following procedures. ① Taegil (setting the date): The ceremony had totake place on an auspicious day or, if the families concerned found it difficult to set such a date, a day in the first month of

Korean Rites of Passage


Erecting the Grain Pole

Byeotgaritdae (Kor. 볏가릿대, lit. grain pole) is a long pole with bags containing various grains such as rice, barley, millet and beans attached to its top. It is erected at a well, courtyard, or a cow shed during the Great Full Moon Festival (Jeongwol Daeboreum, Kor. 정월대보름) as a form of prayer for a good harvest. Widely interpreted as a symbol of Ujumok (Kor. 우주목, Chin. 宇宙木, lit. Tree of the Universe), the pole can also be referred to with words of Chinese origin, such as hwagan (Kor, 화간, Chin. 禾竿

Korean Seasonal Customs