Origin of Seven Stars(七星本解)

Headword

칠성본풀이 ( 七星本解 , Chilseongbonpuri )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer KimHeonsun(金憲宣)

“Chilseongbonpuri”is a shamanic myth that narrates the birth and the deification of Chilseongsin (Seven Stars), a snake god that oversees the fortunes of a family. It is recited as part of household ritual to pray for success in business, or rituals held to chase away trouble related to snakes.

The plot can be summarized as follows:

State Official Jang Seol-ryong and his wife Song Seol-ryong are unable to conceive into their later years and by praying to Buddha at a temple, they give birth to a daughter. One day while her parents are out, she is impregnated by a monk. As a punishment her parents put her in a metal box and throw it into the sea, and she drifts on the water until she reached Jeju Island, where she tries to climb on shore but village gods (dangsin) appeared wherever she went, keeping her away. She finally reaches the shore at Hamdeok Village, where she is discovered by divers and fishermen, who saw that the child and her babies had turned into snakes, and turned away, condemning them as dirty, ugly creatures.

In response to this, Chilseong (Seven Stars) brought them a bad omen and they worshipped Chilseong as ancestral god Josang, and upon worshipping Chilseong, the divers and fishermen acquired great riches. When the villagers found out, they all began to worship Chilseong, abandoning the shrine for the village guardian deity (bonhyangdang), which in turn caused Seomulhalmang, the guardian deity of Hamdeok, to persecute Chilseong. To seek shelter, Chilseong fled to Jeju Fortress, but at Gwandeok Pavilion, visitors harassed them and they headed to Sanji Stream, where they met the daughter- in-law of the Song family from Chilseong Street and followed her home. The Song family began to worship Chilseong as their ancestral god and Chilseong made them very rich. Chilseong later scattered to different places: the youngest was enshrined as the outdoor deity Batchilseong; the mother as the indoor deity Anchilseong, protecting the grains in the house to make the family rich; the rest respectively deified and enshrined as Harvest Guardian, Court Guardian, Prison Guardian, Orchard Guardian, Shed Guardian and State Office Guardian. Since then Chilseong has come to be worshipped on Jeju as a common god.

The depiction of featured deities as snakes makes this bonpuri, or shamanic origin myth from Jeju, an exception among the island’s origin narratives of the common gods. The people of Jeju view snake sightings as a bad omen, and causing harm to snakes is considered taboo, believing that such acts will result in grave punishment.

This myth can also be interpreted as a depiction of how the ancestral god Josang transformed into a common god, with some characteristics borrowed from other bonpuri categories, of village guardian gods or ancestral gods.“Chilseongbonpuri”also serves as an important source in the research of a wide range of topics, including the relationship of influence among shamanic myths from around the peninsula; influence among the various types of Korea’s shamanic myths; and the shifts in the transmission of snake worship.

Origin of Seven Stars

Origin of Seven Stars
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer KimHeonsun(金憲宣)

“Chilseongbonpuri”is a shamanic myth that narrates the birth and the deification of Chilseongsin (Seven Stars), a snake god that oversees the fortunes of a family. It is recited as part of household ritual to pray for success in business, or rituals held to chase away trouble related to snakes. The plot can be summarized as follows: State Official Jang Seol-ryong and his wife Song Seol-ryong are unable to conceive into their later years and by praying to Buddha at a temple, they give birth to a daughter. One day while her parents are out, she is impregnated by a monk. As a punishment her parents put her in a metal box and throw it into the sea, and she drifts on the water until she reached Jeju Island, where she tries to climb on shore but village gods (dangsin) appeared wherever she went, keeping her away. She finally reaches the shore at Hamdeok Village, where she is discovered by divers and fishermen, who saw that the child and her babies had turned into snakes, and turned away, condemning them as dirty, ugly creatures. In response to this, Chilseong (Seven Stars) brought them a bad omen and they worshipped Chilseong as ancestral god Josang, and upon worshipping Chilseong, the divers and fishermen acquired great riches. When the villagers found out, they all began to worship Chilseong, abandoning the shrine for the village guardian deity (bonhyangdang), which in turn caused Seomulhalmang, the guardian deity of Hamdeok, to persecute Chilseong. To seek shelter, Chilseong fled to Jeju Fortress, but at Gwandeok Pavilion, visitors harassed them and they headed to Sanji Stream, where they met the daughter- in-law of the Song family from Chilseong Street and followed her home. The Song family began to worship Chilseong as their ancestral god and Chilseong made them very rich. Chilseong later scattered to different places: the youngest was enshrined as the outdoor deity Batchilseong; the mother as the indoor deity Anchilseong, protecting the grains in the house to make the family rich; the rest respectively deified and enshrined as Harvest Guardian, Court Guardian, Prison Guardian, Orchard Guardian, Shed Guardian and State Office Guardian. Since then Chilseong has come to be worshipped on Jeju as a common god. The depiction of featured deities as snakes makes this bonpuri, or shamanic origin myth from Jeju, an exception among the island’s origin narratives of the common gods. The people of Jeju view snake sightings as a bad omen, and causing harm to snakes is considered taboo, believing that such acts will result in grave punishment. This myth can also be interpreted as a depiction of how the ancestral god Josang transformed into a common god, with some characteristics borrowed from other bonpuri categories, of village guardian gods or ancestral gods.“Chilseongbonpuri”also serves as an important source in the research of a wide range of topics, including the relationship of influence among shamanic myths from around the peninsula; influence among the various types of Korea’s shamanic myths; and the shifts in the transmission of snake worship.