Spinning of a saucer-shaped object such as a sieve frame, wash basin, or bowl, on a stick using a special device or by hand to the accompaniment of nongak (farmers’ music) rhythms.
The origins of beonanori (saucer spinning) can be traced back to the performances of itinerant entertainers such as the namsadangpae of the 20th century. One member of such a troupe testifies that saucer spinning was not part of the original namsadang repertoire. As such, it is presumed that saucer spinning might have been performed differently on every occasion.
Beonanori is based on the principle of integrating song and dance, instrumental music and theater (gamuakhui). It is performed by saucer spinners and interlocutors (maehossi) or clowns who play an assisting role and make jokes on the side. Percussionists (chibae) provide the musical accompaniment that is essential for their routine. Saucer spinning is characterized by the interconnected performance by three groups of players.
Beonanori is a form of nori (performance, literally “play”) using a saucer- shaped or sieve frame-shaped object called beona. The essential components include the props used for spinning saucers, jokes and dance steps acted out with a series of performances while spinning saucers, the dance moves performed one after another, musical accompaniment used for the performance, and jokes that explain what is going on. These components enable the saucer spinning to proceed in a comprehensive and consistent way. The props can be selected as needed, and include a cherry wood pole, small bowl or small rice bowl made of brass, shallow dish, brass basin, kite reel, sieve frame, short and long tobacco pipes, and kitchen knife. These props were considered important because they were all everyday implements, except for the beona.
In all, saucer-spinning involves around 15 kinds of moves, and at the end of each one the spinner and the maehossi exchange jokes to enhance the fun. The 15 moves are as follows: 1. deonjilsawi (throwing move), where the saucer is spun at the end of a cherry wood pole or thrown from the pole and caught on it again, 2. ttaerilsawi (striking move), where the wooden stick is held in one hand and the saucer on top of it struck with the other, 3. leg moves, 4. mujigaesawi (rainbow move), where the saucer is thrown up into the air between the legs and caught again, 5. small reel-spinning move, 6. knife-spinning move, 7. needle-spinning move, where a sieve frame is spun on top of a needle on the pole, 8. phantom crossing the Daedong River (spinning the saucer on five cherry wood poles), 9. jeongbongsanseong (spinning a saucer on the mouthpiece of a long tobacco pipe with a cherry wood pole in the bowl of the pipe) 10. crossing over Danballyeong Pass (passing the saucer along the arms to the back and then to the front again), 11. samdong (spinning a saucer on a short tobacco pipe, long tobacco pipe, and cherry wood pole in sequence), 12. spinning a brass basin, 13. falling flower move, 14. ggobarisawi (spinning a saucer on the tip of a bamboo pole), and 15. muljjurisawi (spinning a saucer on a cigarette holder). Each move has a certain meaning and symbolism that are faithfully reflected in the way each move is presented.
Although the groups of performers who have handed down the art of saucer-spinning are not clearly identified, beonanori is included in certain performances and events and combined with other types of play. In other countries as well, acts similar to beonanori are performed with other acts. Today, beonanori is handed down by some nongak organizations. In particular, nongak and beonanori have musical similarities, with saucer-spinning being passed down in Pyeongtaek Nongak and Anseong Namsadang Pungmulnori, which have regional affinity with the groups of itinerant male entertainers called namsadangpae. In this regard, understanding the origin and current state of beonanori is very important in grasping the characteristics of nongak.