Jindo Sopo Geolgun Nongak
Nongak (farmers’ music) handed down in Sopo-ri, Jisan-myeon, Jindo, Jeollanam-do Province.
The origins of Jindo Sopo Geolgun Nongak can be found in the righteous army soldiers (uibyeong) who disguised themselves as nongak troupes performing to raise money or collect rice during the Japanese invasions (1592-98) as a way to scout enemy positions and implement their battle strategies. In this regard, an historical document describing nongak as a military strategy remains. It is an untitled document regarding nongak received by Cha Geun-hyeon (Kor. 차근현, Chin. 車根炫), former director of the Jindo Cultural Center, from Ju Chan-gye (Kor. 주찬계, Chin. 朱贊桂) (1896-1980) who had once served as manager for a nongak troupe. It is presumed to be the record of a nongak troupe that performed to raise money or collect rice (geollippae) that existed some time before 1896. It is marked by its description of nongak as a military strategy.
According to the orally transmitted records, the traditions of Jindo Sopo Geolgun Nongak have remained intact for some 100 years. Up until the early to mid-1900s, geolgun nongak (rice begging nongak) was performed while traveling around neighboring islands and villages. In 1964 the Sopo Geolgun Nongak Troupe was established and the team performed in various events such as the Namdo Culture Festival and Yeongdong Festival (Sea Parting Festival). In 2006, Jindo Sopo Geolgun Nongak was designated Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 39 of Jeollanam-do Province. The villagers of Sopo-ri formed a preservation committee to ensure that it is carried on.
In Sopo-ri, nongak is called gungo, and geollip (or geolgung) the nongak that is played as a sort of fund-raising performance, is called geolgun. In its transmission over time, military elements were added to the fund-raising (or begging) function of geollip to produce a form of nongak called geolgun nongak. The troupe is composed of musicians called gunjung, including those playing the kkwaenggwari (small gong), jing (large gong), buk (barrel drum), janggu (hourglass shaped drum), and sogo (hand-held drum); actors such as the steward (jipsa), monk (jorijung), hunter (posu), child performers (mudong), and male clown or shaman’s husband (changbu); and flag bearers carrying the farming flag (nonggi) and command flag (yeonggi). Each group of performers had a particular role to play, which was also endowed with a military function.
Sopo Geolgun Nongak featured the dangsangut (rite to the village tutelary deity) and maegut (madangbapgi, or treading on the earth gods) at Daeboruem, the first full moon day of the year, then in order to raise money the nongak troupe set out for neighboring areas to hold geolgun (fund-raising) performances. Nongak performed around the New Year started with dangjesa (rite at the village shrine), well rite, deuldangsangut, gajeonggut (or tteulbalbgi, performing music and rites at different parts of the house to wish for good luck), batanggut (pangut), and ends with naldangsangut (leaving the shrine). The rhythms of Sopo Geolgun Nongak include ilchae (one strike), ichae (two-strike), samchae (three-strike), sachae (four strike), ochae (five strike), yukchae (six strike), yeongsandadeuraegi, salpuri, jilgut, gajinilchae, and gajinsamchae rhythms. Generally the rhythms are slow. Though sangmo hats are worn, as there are none with paper streamers attached for twirling there is no great need for speedy rhythms.
- Dangjesa (rite at the village shrine)
The rite is held with the officiant and musicians standing before the village tree representing the tutelary deity. The steward says, “Holy grandmother, from today we will be performing Sopori Geolgun Nongak, and we pray for your assistance until the day we finish.” The musicians play ilchae up to samchae rhythms as they leave the shrine.
- Munjaebigut (gate rite)
When a geolgung troupe enters a neighboring village, the command flags (yeonggi) are crossed to make a kind of gateway and the talent of the troupe is tested before they are allowed to enter. At the village entrance the troupe plays the dangsangut rhythms and answers the riddles posed by the villagers. As a formality the two sides also exchange prepared speeches or documents. Therefore, in order to enter a different village the geolgung troupe must play nongak music according to set procedures, use their wisdom to answer the riddle, and observe the set formalities.
- Saemgut (well rite)
In this rite nongak is played along with prayer that the water in the village well never dries up. After the rite at the shrine, the saemgut is played as the troupe moves on to the well. When the troupe arrives at the well, they play the munjeongut and a variety of one-strike (gajinilchae) and three-strike (gajinsamchae) rhythms.
- Gajeonggut (tteulbapgi) (household rite)
This is the music performed when the troupe visits all the houses in the village to carry out madangbapgi (treading on the earth gods) to ward off evil and pray for good fortune. The troupe starts at the house of the village head and goes to every house in the area. When they get to the front gate they play the saripgut and enter the yard. First they go round the yard and hold the madanggut (yard rite) and move onto different parts of the house and hold the rite to the household god (seongjugut), rite to the kitchen god (jowanggut), and rite at the barn (oeyanggangut) to pray for peace and good fortune for the family. They make a circuit of the inside of the house and then leave.
- Batanggut (pangut)
In Sopo-ri, Jindo, the typical entertainment-based pangut is called batanggut. It starts with deuldangsangut (entry rite) and proceeds in the order of madangnori, batangnori, nongginori, and naldangsangut (exit rite). The contents of each part take the form of military games. The deuldangsangut, for example, features discovery and execution of the enemy during war, and the heolsagut where a command is made to make the victory drum roll. Batangnoreum features inspection of the size of the ally and search for residual soldiers or enemy forces, and section devoted to individual performances features inspection of the physical state of allied soldiers. The final part, the naldangsangut, is carried out in the form of a military retreat.
When compared to the nongak of other regions, Jindo Sopo Geolgun Nongak has a number of distinguishing characteristics. First, the whole performance is strongly military in nature. Nongak itself is referred to as gungo or geolgun (gun referring to the military), while all parts of the pangut are endowed with military meaning. Second, a document explaining the procedures and formalities of this form of nongak remains to the present. Third, when a geolgung troupe goes to another village it must first go through a ceremony testing their skills, wisdom and observance of formalities. Fourth, notable individual performances presented include a spinning streamer hat (sangmo) performance by the farming flag bearers, and a performance where the drums are played with both hands. Fifth, the troupe is managed by a steward armed with learning and wisdom.