강릉농악 ( 江陵农乐 )
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Korean Folk Arts
Village nongak (farmers’ music) handed down in the Gangneung region of Gangwon-do Province.
The origin of Gangneung Nongak can be traced back to the song and dance of ancient harvest ceremonies (mucheonje). Mention of Gangneung Nongak can also be found in documents from the Joseon period. Seong Hyeon (成俔, 1439-1504), governor of Gangwon-do Province, in “Chagangneungdongheonun” (Kor. 차강릉동헌운, Chin. 次江陵東軒韻, lit. Verse on the Temporary Residence of the East Building in Gangneung), a collection of poems from Joseon, provides a description: “Villagers are enjoying a good harvest playing the tungso [six-holed bamboo flute] and beating drums.” This gives us a glimpse of sogoak, music of the tungso and drum (Kor. 소고악, Chin. 簫鼓樂) performed five hundred years ago. King Sejong the Great, the fourth monarch of Joseon, called for villagers who were good at singing farmers’ songs, or nongga (Kor. 농가, Chin. 農歌), during his stay in Yeongok-ri, Gangneung on the 14th day of the third month in the leap year of 1466. A slave employed by the local government office named Dongguri was selected as the best singer of farmers’ songs. With regard to this anecdote, the following record is contained in Vol. 38 of “Joseon Wangjo Sillok” (Annals of the Joseon Dynasty): “At the command of the king, he was given breakfast and dinner, allowed to follow the palanquin as a court musician, and awarded silk clothes.” These old records suggest a historical connection between Gangneung Nongak and nongyo.
“Yugeumgangsangi” (Kor. 유금강산기, Chin. 遊金剛山記 lit. Travelogue of Mt. Geumgang), a travel book written in 1485 by Nam Hyoon (南孝溫, 1454-1492), one of the six loyal subjects of King Danjong (6th monarch of Joseon), says, “At a ritual for the mountain gods reed instruments, drums, and zithers are played.” In addition, “Daeryeong-sansinchanbyeongseo” (Kor. 대령산신찬병서, Chin. 大嶺山神贊竝書, lit. Paying Tribute to the Gods of Mountains and Hills), written by Heo Gyun in 1603, who was born in Gangneung, also comments, “The mountain gods are greeted with diverse shows.” On this occasion theatrical music was played. “Jingyeongseonjoseongangneungpyochakgi” (Kor. 진경선조선강릉표착기, Chin. 津輕船朝鮮江陵漂着記), an historical record of Japanese people who were washed ashore in Gangneung, written in 1756, says that small gongs, drums, flutes, bells, large gongs, and small cymbals were played on the eighth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. This old document also contains information on a dance movement named jabanttuigi (acrobatic dance featuring sideways flips), dance of shamans wearing chrysanthemum bloom ornaments, and Korean wrestling (ssireum).
The nongak troupes of Myeongju county formed between the 1940s and 1960s include those from the villages of Jangdeok-ri and Hyanghori in Jumunjin-eup, and Namyang-ri in Okgye-myeon. These bands performed on holidays including the first full moon day of the lunar New Year (Daeboreum), and Dano, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, and on days when farmers weeded the rice paddies. Gangneung Nongak participated in the second National Folk Arts Competition held in 1961 and was named National Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 11-4 on December 1, 1985. The Gangneung Nongak Conservation Association was founded on November 1, 1986.
Gangneung Nongak originated in the east coast area of the Yeongdong region in Gangwon-do Province. Around the beginning of the year, nongak performances were carried out when geollip (nongak performed to collect money or rice), gosaban (ritual songs), and jisinbapgi (treading on the earth gods) were performed. Every year, the nongak troupe leads the procession to the divine tree (sinmok) on the day of the Dano festival. Noteworthy features of Gangneung Nongak include the dance of the child performers (mudong) and hat streamer spinning dance (sangmonori) with beopgo (dharma drum) and sogo (hand-held drum) players, as well as nongsapuri (mimicking farming work through music and dance) including procedures such as transplanting rice seedlings, weeding, and threshing. Gangneung Nongak has been praised for combining the ritual feature of primitive agricultural rites with simplicity. The nongak troupe consists of 25-40 people who carry out music and dance performances (pannori) and instrumental performances to the quick and cheerful sounds of the twelve-strike (sibichae) rhythm. The troupe includes a farming community flag (nonggi), group flag (dangi), swaenap (double-reed oboe) player, three kkwaenggwari (small gong) players, two jing (large gong) players, two janggu (hourglass-shaped drum) players, three large buk (barrel drum) players, eight sogo (hand-held drum) players, eight beopgo (dharma drum) players, and eight mudong (child performers). In the past, a flower boy (hwadong) used to be included but today has been replaced with a yeoldubalsangmo (twelve-foot spinning streamer hat) performer.
In principle, performers don unlined summer pants and jackets made out of hemp cloth or white pants and jacket and wear tri-colored sashes over a blue vest. The sash consists of with a sash consisting of a blue band over the left shoulder, a yellow one over the right shoulder, and a red one around the waist. The hojeok (double-reed oboe) players are dressed in pants and jacket with blue, red, and yellow colored sashes worn over their costume and wear a peaked hat (gokkal) The sangsoe (lead small gong player) wears pants and jacket with a blue ramie upper garment (deungjigi), tri-colored sash and a beonggeoji (type of hat originally worn by lower miitary officials) with a streamer attached. The stick for the small gong has pieces of colored cloth attached and is waved during the performance. Busoe (second small gong player) and samsoe (third small gong player) wear the same costume and a beonggeoji hat with a streamer attached. The jing, janggu and buk players are dressed in pants and jacket with tri-colored sash and wear a hat with a club-shaped attachment called peoksang instead of a paper streamer. The sogo players are all numbered from the first (sangsogo) to last (kkeutsogo) and together are called palsogo (lit. eight hand-held drums).
The sogo players wear the same costume as the jing players and tie a cloth around their heads which is then covered with a hat with a kind of attachment called peok. The beopgo players are called beokgojaebi and carry an instrument called mijigi, which is smaller than the sogo and decorated with the taegeuk design. They wear the beonggeoji hat with a paper streamer attached. The child performers are dressed in a red skirt, yellow jacket, long dark blue vest and tri-colored sash and a peaked hat. They hold a cloth in one hand and with the other hand hold onto their vests and sway the ends from left to right. Beonggeoji refers to sangmo, which is decorated with thin strips of paper (chaesani) except in the case of the sogo players. The hat of the sogo players has an attachment at the front called peok, and hence the hat is called peoksang, peoksangmo, or malttuksangmo. The peoksang has attached to the crown a feathery paper tassel stiffened with a 30cm-long wire and decorated with a red flower at the end. The peaked hat called gokkal is made of layers of paper glued and decorated with flowers of five colors, which are made out of hanji, traditional mulberry paper.
Dances featured in the nongak performance include the dances performed by the mudong and the sogo players (wearing sangmo) and beopgo players (wearing beonggeoji), who take part in nongsapuri. Solo performances include the twelve-foot spinning streamer hat dance, the lead gong player’s dance, and janggu dance (janggochum). The lead gong player’s (sangsoe) individual performance includes spinning the streamer on his hat in one direction, in two directions or backwards and forwards. The mudong of Gangneung Nongak are dressed in a green jacket and red skirt (Kor. 녹의홍상, Chin. 綠衣紅裳), a long vest, and peaked hat. They dance while holding a cloth in one hand, waving it from side to side, make their palms face each other or face the opposite direction, or hold both arms out wide and wave them. A distinct feature of the sogo players’ dance is that the performer lowers the upper body facing the ground, strikes the drum once and then twists the body from left to right, ready to shoot forward. Other dance movements include one in which the performer raises both arms up in the form of the (Chinese) figure eight (八) and lowers them again, or jumps in place while spinning the streamer on his hat and then lifting the sogo to chest level and taking it down again.
Pangut (entertainment-based nongak performance), as the embodiment of the theme and artistic value of Gangneung Nongak, is a performance in which the entire process and pleasure of farming work and the life customs observed by the communal farming group called dure are depicted through music and dance. In general, the pangut is composed of dances imitating farm work, known as nongsapuri; dances of delight, functioning as a prayer for a good harvest; and jinnori, in which the organizational power and unity of the dure are showcased. Pangut is also called panjjagi or madanggut. Gangneung Nongak is composed of a total of twelve acts (madang) as follows: insagut (greeting rite), duruchigi, balmatchugi (marching in step), seonghwangmosigi (honoring the village gods), chilchaemeongseongmari (moving into spiral formation to the seven-strike rhythm), obangjisinbapgi (treading on the earth gods in the five directions), hwangdeokgut, nongsapuri (mimicking farming work), ogobungnori, paldojinnori, samdonggori, yeoldubalsangmo, gutgeori, and dwipuri yeoheungnori (post-event entertainment).
Pangut is characterized by the repetition of a rhythm, which is called oegarak, while performers move forwards. The pangut employs formations such as square-shaped formation, large jejo formation, ㄷ-shaped meongseongmari formation, and obangjin formation. This entertainment-oriented performance gives a glimpse of the lives of Koreans in the past when they hunted for food, and the reality of laborious farm work. In terms of the development of pangut, the transition from one act to the next occurs within a large circle formation; when the pan (open-air performance space) is formed, the sachae (four-strike) rhythm is used; when the music begins, the rhythm shifts from samchae (three-strike), through ichae (two-strike), to ilchae (one-strike). To the samchae rhythm, one step is taken to the right, to the ichae rhythm, the sangmo is spun and one foot is lifted, and the mudong speed up their dance movements. During the nongsapuri performance, the musicians must stand to the right side of the pangut formation.
In nongsapuri, the purpose of which is to pray for a good harvest, some 12 to 20 twenty kinds of farming tasks are mimicked. The performance covers the entire farming process, from rice planting to harvest, with sogo players, beopgo players, and mudong also taking part. The mudong perform in place; when the beopgo players enter the performance space playing a four-strike rhythm, the mudong stand up. In the plowing and planting segments, the beopgo players and sogo players stand in two rows to the four-strike rhythm. One group pretends to plow the field, while the other group pretends to rake the ground level. The beopgo player pretends to be a cow and the sogo player grabs the end of his hat streamer and becomes the farmer leading the cow.
The individual performances include dandonggori, samdonggori, odonggoribatgi, beopgo dance, mudong dance, and yeoldubalsangmo dance, performed in that order. Dandongori refers to one child hoisted on the shoulders of an adult; samdonggoribatgi refers to a human tower of three people. Odonggoribatgi, a human tower of five people, is the most difficult to perform but is a true spectacle. The yeoldubalsangmo (hat with twelve-foot streamer attached) dance is performed in the middle of the arena, and the streamer is spun in one direction (oesa) or both directions (yangsa) with both hands clasped behind the back, or in one direction while lying face down. In the paljin formation, the sogo, jing, janggu, and buk players form one group, while the sogo and beopgo players, and mudong form another group. The two groups move together in two circles, then each group makes the paljinbeop formation, which is forming angles eight times.
Jinsinbapgi (treading on the earth gods) starts on the fifth day of the first lunar month. Playing jilkkonaegi, or gilgunakgarak, a song usually played on the way home after weeding the fields, the nongak troupe proceeds to the shrine for the village tutelary deity (seonangdang). At the shrine, the members bow after playing the sachae (four-strike) rhythm. Then they carry the flag of the village god (seonnanggi) to private homes in the village to carry out jisinbapgi. This performance begins with mungut (gate rite), followed by meongseongmari, hwangdeokgut, jinnori, nongsapuri, and jamaenori (lit. sister play) in that order. When the sangsoe sings gosasori (ritual songs asking for blessings for the household), including madanggut, munjeongut, antaekgut, yongwanggut, jangdokgut, the other members go around the house to pray to the gods. Finally the nongak troupe returns to the yard where a ritual table has been prepared. After drinking and eating they return to the village shrine, carrying the flag of the village god and playing their instruments. The troupe installs the flag back at the shrine and observes a rite for the shrine deity.
Daribapgigut (lit. bridge treading rite) is also referred to as dapgyonongak (Kor. 답교, Chin. 踏橋), an event observed on the first full moon day of the lunar year or the sixth day of the second month, known as jomsangnal, when nongak is performed while crossing bridges. At night, members of the nongak troupe head for the bridge while playing the jilkkonaegi rhythm while the villagers carry pine wood torches. When the moon comes up, people climb up the bridge to be the first to set foot on it. The sangsoe of two villages compete with each other as they play their gongs and perform a bridge-taking game called darippaetgi. This game is carried out based on the belief that the village that wins will see a good harvest.
First, one notable feature of Gangneung Nongak is its nongsapuri, which is a clear evidence that nongak is a performance based on the culture of rice cultivation. The nongak performance fosters collaboration and unity among villagers through simulated farming work, ranging from plowing to rice harvesting and milling, involving eight sogo players, eight beopgo players, and eight mudong. Second, the sangsoe leads gosaban, or the singing of ritual songs (Kor. 고사반, Chin. 告祀盤, lit. ritual table). When there is a geollipgut (grain begging or fundraising performance) on the day of the first full moon day of the lunar New Year, the sangsoe leads the troupe from house to house, praying for the welfare and good fortune of the respective families, which prepare rice and thread to offer the nongak troupe for their performance. Third, Gangneung Nongak is characterized by its various performances at seasonal divisions of the year. At New Year jisinbapgi is performed in the first month, and around the first full moon day of the year, Daeboreum, there are events such as welcoming the first full moon, torch battles and bridge treading. In addition, on the sixth day of the second lunar month, villagers compete to occupy the wooden bridge of another village team through a gong playing competition between the sangsoe of the two villages. Based on the result, the two villages forecast whether they will have a good or bad harvest that year. In the fifth month, gilnori (street performance) is first performed as part of Daegwallyeong Guksa Sseonghwangje (Festival of the Daegwallyeong Tutelary Deity), followed by dure nongak, which is nongak accompanying farm work by the dure (communal farm labor group), and jilmeokgi nongak (event held after weeding), and boating. Fourth, the overall performance is filled with fast and dynamic gong rhythms and elaborate dance movements, which gives the impression that performers are constantly running around. In terms of the composition of musical instruments, there is a clear distinction between the sogo and beopgo. Including the eight child performers (mudong), each instrument is played by eight musicians respectively. Fifth, a representative troupe is formed comprising title holders in particular skills designated intangible cultural heritage, and members of village nongak troupes, thus maintaining the typical form of Gangneung Nongak and consistency in the skills employed.
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Korean Folk Arts