Fishing Rituals of Western Coastal Region
Baeyeonsingut (Kor. 배연신굿) and daedonggut (Kor. 대동굿) are ceremonies held with the purpose of praying for an abundant catch in places along the west coast, such as Ongjin and Yeongpyeong Island. Baeyeonsingut, also known as baetgut (Kor. 뱃굿, lit. boat ritual), is initiated by individual ship-owners while daedonggut is a village festival organized for the entire community. Unlike fishing rites of the southern parts of Korea, which are presided over by a hereditary shaman, the officiants of the western coastal rituals are gangsinmu (Kor. 강신무, Chin. 降神巫), or shamans possessed by the spirits. Baeyeonsingut and daedonggut are characterized by colorful costumes, a variety of elaborate dances, a striking shamanistic trance, and humoristic dramatized elements.
In baeyeonsingut a boatowner initiates the ritual and bears all the costs and responsibilities of the ritual. The crew of the ship helps him with the preparation for the ritual. Two or three days prior to baeyeonsingut, the officiating shaman and boatowner coordinate related activities. The shaman makes floral ornaments to decorate the fishing boat, such as seorihwa (Kor. 서리화) and bongjuk (Kor. 봉죽), and prepares ritualistic instruments for the ceremony. At this time the shipowner undertakes a series of purification acts such as bathing in seawater and sleeping onboard his boat. A banner known as janggungi (Kor. 장군기) is hoisted outside the gate of the boatowner’s house with pine branches hung on the gate and at the ends of the roof’s eaves. The rite occurs on the deck of the boat against the backdrop of the maji (Kor. 마지, lit. painting of shamanistic god) and an altar filled with sacrificial gifts. The boat is decorated with brilliantly-colored flags such as hoseonanggi (Kor. 호서낭기), the flag of General Im Gyeong-eop and other maritime banners.
Daedonggut is a characteristic of the Haeju and Ongjin areas on the west coast. As it is a community rite, the officiants are selected at a village meeting, the costs are shared by all members, and everyone is responsible for a portion of the preparation, organization and actual proceedings of the ritual. The ritual takes place in three different venues across the village. First, the ceremony known as danggut (Kor. 당굿) is held on the village’s guardian mountain, and then segyeonggut (Kor. 세경굿) is performed inside the village. Finally, the ceremony called gangbyeon yongsingut (Kor. 강변용신굿) is organized at the seashore. The venue for the danggut part of the ritual is usually a building with a gambrel or hipped-and-gabled roof, near a dangsup (Kor. 당숲, a forest where the village guardian deity is believed to reside) and at the highest point of a hill near the sea. During the village meeting on the third of the first lunar month, local dignitaries and boat owners decide together on an auspicious date to host the ritual and select the officiant and ceremonial assistants. The village may invite a different shaman each year, a choice often based on the recommendation of the boat owners.