Temporary spirit tablet
Temporary spirit tablet of a deceased person made of white fabric for use at funeral rites before the sinju (Kor. 신주, Chin. 神主, spirit tablet) is made.
Honbaek is a type of sinwi (Kor. 신위, Chin. 神位, spirit tablets) where the spirit of the deceased temporarily resided. In traditional funeral rites, the ancestral spirit is transferred to different objects in three stages until it is completely entrusted to the sinju, the spirit tablet proper.
The first step is to transfer the spirit of the deceased to the upper garment on the dead body, a process referred to as chohon (Kor. 초혼, Chin. 招魂, rite for evoking the spirit of the dead). According to Confucian beliefs, humans consist of hon (Kor. 혼, Chin. 魂, ethereal soul) and baek (Kor. 백, Chin. 魄, corporeal soul), and the union of these two parts is what keeps humans alive, where as their separation means death. When a person dies, hon goes up to heaven and baek remains in this world. Chohon is performed to keep the hon from leaving this world. The second step is to make honbaek, the temporary spirit tablet made of fabric, and entrust to it the spirit of the deceased. So the spirit is transferred from the upper garment to the spirit cloth. The third step is to make the sinju and entrust the spirit to it after the body has been buried. The sinju is prepared before barin (Kor. 발인, Chin. 發靷, departure of the funeral procession from the home to the burial site) and buried together with the honbaek at the grave. At this stage, the spirit still resides in the honbaek, so the sinju is put in a box and placed behind the honbaek.
At the burial site, a rite is performed to transfer the spirit of the deceased from the honbaek to the sinju. After the spirit has been transferred, the arrangement of the honbaek and sinju is switched so that the sinju is placed before the honbaek. Both are then brought back to the home of the deceased and uje (Kor. 우제, Chin. 虞祭, post-burial rite) is performed. After the ceremony, the honbaek is buried in a clean place, but in practice, it is more often burnt or buried next to the mortuary. Families that do not prepare a sinju keep the honbaek until the threeyear mourning period is over.
There are two types of honbaek: sokbaek (Kor. 속백, Chin. 束帛) and gyeolbaek (Kor. 결백, Chin. 結帛). Sokbaek is the type with both ends of the silk spirit cloth rolled up and tied. Gyeol-baek is similar in style to the traditional knot dongsimgyeol (Kor. 동심결, Chin. 同心結) and resembles the shape of a human figure. The silk is rolled up into a long string and tightened into a knot at the center with one loop at the top and one loop each to the left and right and strands of string hanging down like legs. Hanji (traditional Korean mulberry paper) is sometimes used to make honbaek, or even the sleeves or coat strings from the clothing of the deceased. Today, hemp cloth or ramie fabric is more commonly used.