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Between the Old and New

Singugan (Kor. 신구간, Chin. 新舊間, lit. between the old and new) is the approximately one-week long period from the fifth day after the solar term Daehan (Kor. 대한, Chin. 大寒, Great Cold) to the third day before the solar term Ipchun (Kor. 입춘, Chin. 立春, Beginning of Spring). On Jeju Island, this is believed to be the only time when one can move or repair one’s house without any harmful consequences. According to folk belief, during this period between Daehan, the last seasonal term of an old year, and

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


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



A kind of a hat with feathers or paper streamers attached to the top which is worn when dancing and moving the head around (Kor. 머리춤, Chin. 首舞, lit. head dance) during a nongak performance. Sangmo specifically refers to a thin red feather in the form of a spike or tassel that is attached to military hats called jeollip, helmets, flags, or spears and is also transcribed as sakmo (Kor. 삭모, Chin. 槊毛, lit. spear hat). Hats worn by nongak performers are generally classified as gokkal (peaked hat) and

Korean Folk Arts



Young children (mostly boys) dressed up as girls or child monks performing acrobatics and various other skills or stunts hoisted on the shoulders of adult performers. Mudongnori was performed by itinerant groups of male entertainers called namdasangpae mostly around Gyeonggi-do Province as an expression of people’s prayers and wishes for longevity and to prevent an epidemic. Hyeomnyulsa, Korea’s first modern indoor theater, had some 80 affiliated members consisting of namsadang members and gisae

Korean Folk Arts



Drumming and dancing performance of the sogo (small hand-held drum) player(s). The name sogo (Kor. 소고, Chin. 小鼓) literally means “small drum, ” but the instrument actually varies in name and size depending on region. These differences arose because such musical instruments were handmade by the villagers themselves in the past. When making sogo, the villagers used the round frame of a sieve, an everyday implement. Leather was rare, so they also used cloth in place of leather. As cloth produces no

Korean Folk Arts


Gamnae Gejuldanggigi

A variation of tug-of-war that has been passed down in Gamcheon-ri (Gamnae) of Bubuk-myeon, Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, where the team members hitch a rope, knotted in the shape of a crab, around the shoulders while facing opposite directions from each other, and then crawl forward tugging the rope. Gamcheon was a stream known for a good haul of crab, and the local residents used to fight amongst other for a good spot catching the crabs. The elders of the community would then step forth

Korean Folk Arts