Nongak handed down in Pyeonggung-ri, Paengseong-eup in Pyeongtaek, which combines the nongak performed during farm work carried out by collective farm labor groups called dure in the Pyeongtaek region and the entertainment-based nongak performed in the southern part of Gyeonggi-do Province.
Pyeongtaek Nongak was designated National Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 11-a in 1985. Thanks to the vast plains called Sosaetdeuri, agriculture thrived in the Pyeongtaek region and nongak likewise flourished. From the olden days, Pyeonggung-ri, Paengseong-eup was famous for its hard driving nongak as featured in jisinbapgi and duregut. The major forms of Pyeongtaek nongak are jisinbapgi (treading on the earth gods) performed at New Year and duregut performed in the farming season, as well as nanjanggut and geollip performed by professional groups of entertainers. Though jisinbapgi was not performed in Pyeongtaek every year on a set date, as was the case in the southern part of the country, when it was performed the sumunjanggut (gatekeeper rite) was held at the front gate and then the nongak troupe entered the yard and went around performing rites and music at different parts of the house including the well (umulgut), teojugut for the deity guarding the site of the house, jowanggut for the kitchen god, gosa to pray for good fortune for the household, and madanggut, a performance in the yard, in that order. Durenongak was performed in Pyeongtaek during the farming season, from transplanting the rice seedlings to the autumn harvest. It was always performed during the transplantation and weeding stages when the demand for collective labor was concentrated and the dure were especially busy.
The name Pyeongtaek Nongak began to be used when a nongak competition was held to mark the birthday of the then President Syngman Rhee and Choe Eun-chang led a troupe named the Pyeongtaek Nongak Troupe in the competition at the request of the city of Pyeongtaek. In 1980, a troupe consisting of Pyeonggung-ri residents and famous nongak performers from nearby Cheonan and Anseong, entered the National Folk Arts Competition under the name of Pyeongtaek Nongak and won the President’s Award.
Among the various forms of Pyeongtaek Nongak the pangut form, generally performed in nanjanggut or geollipgut, is described in order of performance as follows. The Pyeongtaek Nongak troupe consists of flag bearers, taepyeongso (double-reed oboe) player, percussion musicians, beopgo (dharma drum) players, child performers (mudong), and actors (japsaek). The flags used include the farming flag (nonggi), two command flags (yeonggi), group flag (danchegi), and nanggi (flag of the village god). Of these, nanggi is only used for geollip or nanjangut performances. Along with the taepyeongso player, the other musicians include kkwaenggwari (small gong), jing (large gong), janggu (hourglass-shaped drum), buk (barrel drum), and beopgo players. Beopgonori is a well developed feature of Pyeongtaek Nongak, which is also well known for its mudongnori staged by a large number of child performers. In recent times the troupe has been expanded and often includes up to 8-10 beopgo players and 10- 12 other musicians. In comparison, the number of child performers is not large. The actors generally consist of the nobleman (yangban) and the farmer.
Aside from the child performers, along with the youngest (called sami), and the other actors, the members of the troupe are dressed in white pants and jacket (jeogori), a blue vest, and tri-colored sash. Among the musicians, those playing the soe (small gong, also called kkwaenggwari) wear the budeulsangmo (hat with soft feathery tuft) and the others wear the chaesangmo (hat with long paper streamer). In the past the jing players and buk players apparently wore a straw hat (paeraengi) or peaked hat (gokkal), but these days they all wear the chaesangmo. The child performers wear a red skirt, yellow jacket, navy blue vest, and tricolored sash.
Traditionally, the pangut of Pyeongtaek Nongak proceeds in the following order: entrance and insagut, dollimbeopgo, dangsanbeollim 1, obangjin, dollimbeopgo, dangsanbeollim 2 (jjikgeumnori, jeolgudaengi beopgonori), satongbaegi, dollimjwaubaegi, hapdongjwauchiji, jjeokjjeogichum (yeonpungdae), dollimbeopgo, individual performances, mudongnori, yeoldubalchaesangnori, and insagut.
These days gasaeballim is not performed.
Notable among these are jjikgeumnori, jeolgudaengi beopgonori from dangsanbeollim 2 . These two acts are mock performances of farming procedures and contain elements connecting farming based nongak (durenongak) with performance-based nongak. In jjikgeumnori, the lead gong player (sangsoe) calls out the child performers and beopgo players in turn to play music and dance together. To the samchae (three strike) rhythm, they sit on the first rhythm, place the right hand on the ground and remove it on the second, and place the left hand on the ground and remove it on the third. On the fourth, they place both hands on the ground, and on the fifth they get up again. These movements are based on the movements of farmers when they transplant rice seedlings, constituting an artistic development of the mock farming movements found in entertainment-based nongak.
Following jjikgeumnori, the beopgo players stand in two lines and take turns in repeatedly sitting down and standing up. This is called jeolgudaengibeopgonori. The up and down movement of the beopgo players imitates the movement of two people facing each other and taking turns in moving the pestle up and down in the mortar (jeolgu). Like jjikgeumnori it represents artistic development of a farming procedure.
The pangut of Pyeongtaek Nongak as it is performed today proceeds in the following order.
- Insagut (greeting)
Playing the samchae rhythm the troupe enters the performance space with the command flag at the front and stand in a circle. They switch to the jajin rhythm, turn around to face the outside and bow to greet the audience.
After the greeting, they turn in a circle in the counterclockwise direction while playing the samchae rhythm. The sangsoe goes to the center and plays the jjeokjjeoki rhythm, then the beopgo players step inside and form another circle. The sangsoe goes to the center of this second circle and plays the jajeun and dadeuraegi rhythms. When he switches back to the fast jajeun rhythm, all the musicians in both circles jump sideways.
After the side jumps, they all play the rhythms as the beopgo players make a line on the left, the other musicians (chibae) a line on the right and the child performers a line at the front, resulting in an open square configuration (ㄷ). The musicians continue to play their instruments as the sangsoe goes into the center and spins the tuft on the budeulsangmo while doing the yeongpungdae steps, then approaches the chibae and brings the rhythm cycle to an end. To the samchae rhythm, the beopgo players take one step forward turn on the spot and spin the streamers on their hats to the jajeun rhythm.
- Obangjin (formation in five directions)
This act is also called meongseongmari, or “rolling up a straw mat.” Playing the chilchae (seven-strike) rhythm, the sangsoe leads the musicians in making a spiral formation, as if rolling a straw mat. Meanwhile the beopgo players stand outside the formation and spin the streamers on their hats in one direction and perform a series of acrobatic flips. The child performers make another circle on the outside of this circle. When the spiral (straw mat) has been completely rolled up the sangsoe takes the lead and unrolls the formation.
Once again the performers make one big circle and again perform dollimbeopgu. The procedure is the same as described in No. 2 above.
- Dangsanbeollim (jjikgeumnori, beopgonori)
The troupe makes a big formation while the sangsoe, playing the samchae rhythm in the center, brings out the mudong and makes them stand in one line. The sangsoe and mudong sit down facing each other to perform jjikgeumnori, an imitation of transplanting rice seedlings. The mudong then return to their places, and the sangsoe brings out the beopgo players and repeats the same procedure. When this is over the beopgo players stand at a right angle to the other musicians.
The beopgo players divide into two lines and stand facing each other, the mudong changing places till they face the musicians and make one big circle. To the rhythm played by the sangsoe the lines crisscross each other and change places repeatedly. Back in their original places, they make four small circles and turn until the sangsoe dissolves each of the circles to make one big circle.
When they have made one big circle they stand still and play the jajin rhythm and then begin the jawuchigi move. This is taking three steps to the right, three steps to the left, three steps inside the circle and three steps back outside. Dollim means to turn, while jwau means left and right. This move is also called wonjwauchigi, won meaning circle.
The musicians play the rhythm then run and form four lines before the sangsoe, standing in order of the musicians, lead beopgo player, beopgo players, and mudong from the right. Briefly playing the jajin rhythm they all perform the jawuchigi step.
The four lines join to make one circle again and all performers stand still. The musicians dance while they play the jajeun rhythm. This is followed by the yangsandeodeuraegi rhythm when the beopgo players and mudong put their hands forwards and backwards in a dance called mudongkkaekkichum. The yangsandeodeuraegi rhythm is followed by the yeonpungdae rhythm and everyone dances slowly as they turn in a circle.
When the yeonpungdae rhythm is finished, everyone comes together to play the jajeun rhythm and perform dollimbeopgu again.
Next, the musicians stand in the dangsanbeollim formation while the beopgo players and child performers prepare to start various performances under the title of mudongnori. These include the children doing stunts while riding on the shoulders of the beopgo players, and adding the youngest child on top.
Beona is a kind of physical skill that involves spinning a sieve frame or plate or other saucer-like object on a stick. Performed by the beopgo players some of the tricks are throwing the saucer high above the head and catching it, throwing it between the legs so that it goes up high and catching it, spinning it on a pipe rod then spinning it on two sticks, and throwing it from one hand to the other.
The beopgo players wearing a hat with long paper streamer attached (chaesangmo) come forward one by one and spin the streamer on the hat by moving their heads. The last to perform is the beopgo player wearing the hat with a long, thin paper streamer called the “12-foot streamer” (yeoldubalsangmo). In the past the performer used to make a series of jokes and witty remarks while spinning the streamer.
- Insagut (greeting)
To close the whole performance, the sangsoe plays the samchae rhythm while the musicians form a circle and bow to greet the audience.
Nongak performed in Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do developed greatly after liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945 through fund-raising performances (geollip) that were focused on entertainment and hence were notable for their artistic and acrobatic elements. From the late 1950s, it has been preserved and carried on centered around the Pyeongtaek region and in this sense Pyeongtaek Nongak can be seen as the synthesis of the entertainment-based nongak of Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do. It is characterized by chilchae rhythms, satongbaegi, dazzling beopgo performances, mimicking of farming procedures, and mudongtagi (children performing on the shoulders of others), which are points in common with Utdari Nongak performed in the Gyeonggi-do, Yeongseo and Chungcheong-do regions. Pyeongtaek Nongak is particularly known for the mock farming movements reflected in jjikgeumnori and jeolgudaengibeopgo performed by the beopgo players and mudong, and the diverse mudongnori. This partial mimicking of farming procedures serves as a link between nongsapuri, the main form of nongak in the northern part of Gyeonggi-do, and the entertainment-focused nongak of the southern part of the province. It is also an important link between durenongak, which is performed during actual farm work, and nongak performed purely for entertainment.