Gangneung Dano Festival(江陵端午祭)
One of Korea’s major traditional folk festivals, Gangneung Danoje (Kor. 강릉 단오제, Chin. 江陵端午祭, Gangneung Dano Festival) is held in the Gangneung area on Dano (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month). The festival was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 13 by the Ministry of Culture in 1967 and as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on November 25, 2005. Gangneung Danoje comprises a number of ceremonies, among which a shamanic ritual called Gangneung Danogut (Kor. 강릉단오굿, Chin. 江陵端午-) is officiated by a designated female shaman. The entire local community prepares for the festival for approximately fifty days each year, which shows the zeal and devotion of the citizens of Gangneung for this lasrge-scale cultural event.
The first step in preparation for the festival is brewing liquor called sinju (Kor. 신주, Chin. 神酒, lit. god’s drink) that will be offered to tutelary deities during the main ceremony. The process starts on the fifth day of the fourth lunar month at Chilsadang Hall (Kor. 칠사당, Chin. 七事堂) in Gangneung City and is carried out under the supervision of a shaman and other officiants responsible for various religious and semi-religious events of the festival.
The first festival rite takes place on the fifteenth day of the fourth lunar month at a mountain shrine called Daegwallyeong Sansindang (Kor. 대관령산신당, Chin. 大關嶺山神堂, lit. Daegwallyeong Mountain God’s Shrine). The rite honors the mountain god who, according to the local belief, incarnated in a great general of Silla (BCE 57-CE 935) Kim Yu-sin (595-673). On the picture hung in the shrine the mountain god is portrayed as an old monk accompanied by a tiger. Next, the rite to pay homage to the state tutelary god is held at Guksa Seonghwangsa (Kor. 국사성황사, Chin. 國師城隍祠, lit. State Preceptor’s Shrine), which is located 40 meters down the hill from the mountain god’s shrine. It starts at about 11 o’clock in the morning and takes place in front of a mortuary tablet with the god’s title, Daegwallyeong Guksa Seonghwangjisin (Kor. 대관령국사성황지신, Chin. 大關嶺國師城隍之神, lit. State Preceptor God of Daegwallyeong), inscribed on it and a portrait of State Preceptor Beomil (810-889) who is portrayed sitting on a horseback and wearing a soldier’s hat.
Local worshippers believe that the state tutelary deity arrives to this world via the ninety-nine curves of the Daegwallyeong Mountain Pass and briefly rests at the tutelary shrine in Gusan, the village that had a station guesthouse since the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The state tutelary deity and his retinue are believed to descend to a guardian tree. In honor of their arrival the villagers decorate the tree with the strips of clothes of three colors and hold a torch parade. The procession then goes to the Haksan Village to perform the Haksan Tutelary Deity Rite. Haksan is located 5 km away from the Gangneung city and houses the Seokcheon Spring (Kor. 석천, Chin. 石泉) and the Hakbawi Rock (Kor. 학바위, lit. crane rock), two landmarks that appear in the legend of the birth of State Preceptor Beomil. The rite, accordingly, signifies the guardian deity’s homecoming.
Carrying the deity’s mortuary tablet and singing a folk song entitled “Yeongsanhong” (Kor. 영산홍, lit. Azalea), the participants of the parade finally arrive at the shrine of the Daegwallyeong State Preceptor Goddess (Daegwallyeong Guksa Yeoseonghwangsin, Kor. 대관령국사여성황신, Chin. 大關嶺國師女城隍神) in Hongje-dong, Gangneung, where the State Preceptor is said to meet the goddess. The fifteenth of the fourth lunar month is thus the day when the divine couple is reunited, and it is regarded as the official start of the Gangneung Dano Festival. The participants celebrate the reunion of the gods and enshrine them in the Daegwallyeong State Preceptor Goddess Shrine until the main ceremony of the Dano Festival. The shrine building features a three-bay structure with a tile roof and decorated with multicolored paintwork called dancheong. Inside the building, on the front wall of the shrine hall there is a portrait of the goddess who appears as a lady with long, plaited hair resting on her left shoulder and draping down to her chest. She is attended by a tiger and a waiting maid.
The yeongsinje (Kor. 영신제, Chin. 迎神祭, deity welcoming rite) announcing the beginning of the main Dano ceremony takes place on the third of the fifth lunar month at the Namdaecheon Dano Altar (Namdaecheon Dano Jedan, Kor. 남대천 단오제단, Chin. 南大川 端午祭壇) in Gangneung. The divine couple enshrined in the goddess’ shrine are now escorted to the event venue at Namdaecheon. On the way they briefly stop at the Gyeongbang House where the food offerings are prepared for the celebration on the eve of the festival’s main ceremony.
Every morning from the fourth day of the fifth lunar month until the final day of the festival the guardian deities are honored through the Confucian-style rites called jojeonje (Kor. 조전제, Chin. 朝奠祭). The officiants and leading participants dressed in Confucian ceremonial clothes perform these rites under the supervision of an expert whose knowledge and experience of traditional rituals is officially acknowledged by the government.
The highlight of the Gangneung Dano Festival, often attracting the largest audience through the festival, is Gangneung Danogut (Kor. 강릉단오굿, Chin. 江陵端午-). It is a shamanic ritual intended to deliver human wishes to the supernatural world resided by gods and goddesses. The event takes place on the seventh day of the fifth lunar month, i.e., the final day of the festival.
According to the data collected by the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage in 1999, the ritual includes the following episodes: (1) bujeonggut (Kor. 부정굿, Chin. 不淨-, purification rite), (2) cheongjwagut (Kor. 청좌굿, Chin. 請坐-, the rite inviting all gods to come to the ritual venue), (3) hahoedongchamgut (Kor. 하회동참굿, Chin. 和解同參-, the rite requesting that the gods reconcile and participate in the ritual), (4) sejongut (Kor. 세존굿, Chin. 世尊-, rite for abundant harvest, includes the song telling the story of Danggeum-aegi), (5) josanggut (Kor. 조상굿, Chin. 祖上-, ancestral rite), (6) sansingut (Kor. 산신굿, Chin. 山神-, rite for mountain gods including the god of Daegwallyeong Mountain Pass), (7) Simcheonggut (Kor. 심청굿, Chin. 沈淸-, the rite in which a shaman recites the dramatic song about filial daughter Simcheong and asks gods to endow fishermen with keen eyesight, so that they have a big catch), (8) cheonwanggut (Kor. 천왕굿, Chin. 天王-, the rite to the Buddhist deity of heaven), (9) chugwongut (Kor. 축원굿, Chin. 祝願-, rite for the prosperity of individuals, families and village communities), (10) seongjugut (Kor. 성주굿, Chin. 城主-, rite for the household guardian god), (11) sonnimgut (Kor. 손님굿, rite to prevent smallpox and measles), (12) gunungjangsugut (Kor. 군웅장수굿, Chin. 軍雄將帥-, rite for the deified generals), (13) Jemyeongut (Kor. 제면굿, the rite invoking the spirit of shamans’ foremother Grandma Jemyeon), (14) yongwanggut (Kor. 용왕굿, Chin. 龍王-, lit. Dragon King rite, asks the god of water for success and prosperity), (15) kkotnorae-baenoraegut (Kor. 꽃노래-뱃노래굿, lit. Flower Song-Boat Song rite, ensures a safe passage of spirits to the other world, with flowers symbolizing the other world and boat meaning a comfortable trip), (16) deungnoraegut (Kor. 등노래굿, the rite bidding farewell to Daegwallyeong State Preceptor), (17) talgut (Kor. 탈굿, lit. mask rite).
The last of the festival rituals starts in the evening on the seventh day of the fifth lunar month and is intended to send the tutelary god and the goddess back to their shrines in Daegwallyeong Mountain Pass and Hongje-dong. This is known as songsinje (Kor. 송신제, Chin. 送神祭, farewell ritual), during which the officiants ask the tutelary deities if they have been properly served during the festival and request that the deities bring peace and fortune to the communities that have participated in the festival. The ritual is also sometimes called soje (Kor. 소제, Chin. 燒祭, lit. incineration ritual) because the objects used by shamans for the festival, including the sinmok (Kor. 신목, Chin. 神木, divine tree), paper flowers and other ornaments decorating the altars and shrines, are burnt during this ritual. It ends with a shaman’s pledge to invite the divine couple in the following year and a request for peace to all residents of the area.