Bawijeol Maeul Hosang Nori
A custom transporting empty caskets through Bawijeol Village of Amsa-dong, Gangdong-gu, Seoul.
The Bawijeol Maeul Hosang Nori is a custom where a seonsorikkun (a lead singer) and sangyeokkuns (people holding a casket) sing a song called Sangyeotsori in the night before a funeral. It was passed down primarily among the Moon Clan, who lived in Amsa-dong of Gangdong-gu until the town was incorporated into Seoul in 1963. The transporting stopped due to urbanization up until it was restored in 1990 and designated as intangible cultural heritage No. 10 of Seoul Metropolitan City in 1996.
The Bawijeol Maeul Hosang Nori does not take place at every funeral, rather, it is performed solely for the funerals of the deceased who have lived a life of longevity and happiness. The custom functions as consolation to mourners in special circumstances, the death of a loved one. Also, it is a means to strengthen the cooperation between sangyeokkuns through singing and marching. Sangyeokkuns play the buk (drums), janggu (double-headed drums with a narrow waist in the middle), and kkwaenggwari (small gongs), while they carry around an empty casket. They also perform humorous acts, such as sobbing, mimicking mourners, and pretending to hold a memorial service while making quips.
The Bawijeol Maeul Hosang Nori consists of chulsang (carrying a casket out of a house), a Sangyeo Nori (a custom using a coffin), Noje (a ritual performed on a road), crossing a stream on stepping stones, crossing a single log bridge, climbing a mountain slope, and marching for the construction of a tomb. It follows the possible route of a casket during an actual funeral. The seonsorikkun, who is also a yoryeongjabi, shakes a yoryeong (hand-bell) in front of the casket and sings a song to lead the way. Behind the seonsorikkun, each casket is carried by 36 sangyeokkuns in four rows following behind and singing along.
According to the custom, once the caskets of the deceased have been placed on biers, there is a Barinje (the ritual before the coffin leaves a house) performance. A seonsorikkun calls out “Gonbangne!” three times while ringing a yoryeong. Behind him are sangdukkuns (or sangyeokkuns) answering, “Ne!, ” carrying biers on their shoulders. They keep pace with each other by repeating “Eoreogineomcha” multiple times, followed by the seonsorikkun singing Mamo Sori, a chief mourner and other people expressing mourning bows three times. While this happens, the front of each casket is inclined forward as a valediction.
Next, the yoryeongjabi goes to a casket to lead the march. At the edge of the village, the two caskets face, push, and wander around each other along to a song called Banga Taryeong, which is referred to as Sangyeo Eorugi. The caskets sometimes take a rest at a place that the deceased used to go to or own. During the break, Noje (the ritual on a road) is performed where visitors who have not yet paid their respects can express their condolences.
During the crossing a stream on stepping stones and crossing a single log bridge, two out of the four rows of sangdukkuns leave the line. Only the remaining two rows of people carry the bier while crossing over. With the bier and their feet at the center, they lean outward, creating a V-shape.
For climbing a mountain slope, they march in four rows. Two rows on the upper side of a hill lean forward while the other two rows on the lower side hold the bier higher to gain a balance. As such, they show various formations until they arrive at the burial site. As soon as they arrive at the destination, they lower the casket and perform dalgujil (the ramming of earth). For an ordinary dalgujil, six people pound the earth twice, while for beoldalgujil, 10 to 15 people beat down on the earth three times. Here, the seonsorikkun sings a song and plays a drum while dalgujilkkuns (people ramming the earth) swing a long ramming stick by bending their lower back like a butterfly spreading its wings and singing along after the seonsorikkun. In this way, the Bawijeol Maeul Hosang Nori encapsulates the entire process, from Barin (taking a casket out of the house) to Seongbun (the mounding work).