Jowang is a fire god that governs the kitchen and oversees the fortunes of the family and the health and welfare of their descendants.
The kitchen is a place where humans can control and use fire for their purposes, where fire is used to cook food and to heat the house. The kitchen is also a space for the women of the house, and thus Jowang is a deity worshipped by the wife in the family or her mother-in-law. The kitchen deity worshipped by the general public is a goddess, referred to as Jowanggaksi (Kitchen Maiden Goddess) or Jowanghalmae (Kitchen Grandmother Goddess), but shamans and Buddhists worship the kitchen god as a couple or a male deity.
Women enshrine Jowang upon marriage or upon forming a new household independent of her in-laws, generally inheriting the sacred entity from her mother-in-law. Sacred entities vary by region and family, and include a small bowl that contains water; talisman sheet folded into the shape of a floor pillow; and a combination of dried pollock and earthenware jar. Devotions are not offered as a daily routine, but Jowang’s place in the house is always approached with care. On days when a rite is held in the home, a ritual for the kitchen deity is also observed, with rice cake and other sacrificial foods. Unlike other household gods that are enshrined on special days or during shamanic rituals, Jowang is enshrined on a daily basis, the woman of the house waking early to head to the well to wash her face with fresh untouched water and fetch a bowl to offer to Jowang as jeonghwasu. A bowl of fresh water from the well is also offered to enshrine Jowang on the first and fifteenth days of each lunar month, on traditional holidays, on memorial services of parents, family birthdays, when a new house is built, and when a family member is out of the house or travelling.