Authors

all : 300

AnHyekyung

2 count

AnHyekyung

2

House Entry Ritual

Iptaekgosa is a ritual held upon moving into a newly constructed home or from one house to another, to pray for peace and prosperity for the family. These house entry rituals, also called jipgosa (house ritual), are observed around the country. Iptaekgosa can be categorized into ritual types and sorcery types. Ritual types can again be grouped into reception rites for the house guardian god Seongju, officiated by a shaman or recitation sorcerer, and house entry rites officiated by the head of th

Korean Folk Beliefs

Ritual for Removing Speck from Eye

Samjapgi is a sorcery ritual for removing a small speck in the eye. In the distant past, eye diseases were common but considered especially mysterious and thus feared. Sam is a traditional term that refers to a tiny white or red speck that has developed on the pupil, and samnun is the eye inflammation caused by this speck, accompanying pain and redness. An alternate term for the ritual for removing this symptom is samnunjapgi. One healing method involved using red beans. At sunrise, a bowl of wa

Korean Folk Beliefs

AnJiwon

2 count

AnJiwon

2

Lantern Ritual

Yeondeunghoe (Kor. 연등회, Chin. 燃燈會) is a tradition related to the celebration of Shakyamuni’s birth and refers to the hanging and lighting of paper lanterns outside homes, in temples and along streets. This practice is widespread in all Buddhist countries. In Buddhism lanterns are an important symbol of Buddha’s wisdom enlightening the world. Lanterns were used to worship Shakyamuni even during his lifetime. The practice of using lanterns in the context of a worship service originates from India

Korean Seasonal Customs

Fund-raising Performance with a Flag

Hogi (Kor. 호기, Chin. 呼旗) is a fund-raising activity carried out by children in anticipation of Shakyamuni’s Birthday, designed to raise money for the Lantern Festival. Days before Shakyamuni’s Birthday, village children would gather to create paper flags and drums made from fish skin. Children beat these drums and marched around the town carrying a long pole with a paper flag at the top at the head of this procession. As they marched, they would loudly solicit donations. Rice and hemp collected

Korean Seasonal Customs

AnSangkyung

2 count

AnSangkyung

2

Recitation of Scriptures

Dokgyeong is the term for the shamanic practice performed by a sorcerer reciting the scriptures of Taoism or Buddhism to pray for the good fortunes of an individual, or peace and prosperity in the family. In Korean folk religion, beopsa are sorcerers who practice divination or officiate dokgyeong. Essential to the practice of dokgyeong, is the study of a vast range of scriptures, including the four major shamanic scriptures Okchugyeong (Scripture of Precious Fundamentals), Cheonjipalyanggyeong (

Korean Folk Beliefs

Sitting Ritual

Anjeungut, or sitting ritual, is a form of shamanic ritual that centers on the practice of dokgyeong, or scripture recitation, by sorceresses or sorcerers. In anjeungut, the sorcerer is in a seated position, reciting the scriptures to his own accompaniment of janggu (hourglass drum), jing (gong), or kkwaenggwari (small gong). This ritual has been preserved mainly in Chungcheong and North Jeolla provinces. In Chungcheong Province, anjeungut involves more than recitation, a complex procedure that

Korean Folk Beliefs

BaeDosik

8 count

BaeDosik

8

Village Guardian Post

Jangseung is a wooden or stone figure carved in human form and erected in the entrance of a village, temple or mountain pass to serve as guardian deity. Alternate terms include jangsaeng, beoksu and susalmok, but jangseung is the most common. The practice of erecting these guardian posts goes back to ancient times and many villages held rituals to worship them. While its most important function was to protect the village or temple against diseases, bad fortune, and tiger attacks and to preserve

Korean Folk Beliefs

Tiger Offers Ride for Dutiful Son

This tale narrates the story of a tiger who, upon being moved by a dutiful son’s filial piety, offers him favors. A long time ago in a village lived a dutiful son who was so poor he could not afford food for his mother, and he had to ask for food from the family he worked for as a farmhand, and ride on the back of a tiger to serve the food to his mother. There was another dutiful son who had to travel far to get medicine for his ailing father and a tiger appeared and let him ride on its back. An

Korean Folk Literature

Tiger That Helped the Widowed Daughter-in-Law

This tale narrates the story of a widowed daughter- in-law who did not remarry despite the urging of her parents and cared for her father-in-law, and a tiger who helped her, moved by her dedication. A long time ago there lived a daughter-in-law who was widowed at a young age. Her parents insisted that she remarry, but she did not comply, and instead devoted herself to the care of her widowed and ill father-in-law. Her parents, tired of waiting for their daughter, one day sent her news that her m

Korean Folk Literature

Yeongsan Wooden Bull Fight

Yeongsan Soemeori Daegi (Kor. 영산쇠머리대기, Chin. 靈山-, lit. Yeongsan wooden bull fight) is a Great Full Moon Festival (fifteenth of the first lunar month) activity of Yeongsan village (Yeongsan-myeon, Changnyeon-gun, South Gyeongsang Province). It is a war game involving the use of a tool known as soemeori (Kor. 쇠머리, lit. ox head). In 1969 Yeongsan Soemeori Daegi was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 25. On the Great Full Moon Day the people of Yeongsan-myeon divided into two t

Korean Seasonal Customs

Lit. prenatal education

Taking care in speech, behavior and thought by a pregnant woman to have a good impact on the fetus. The pregnant woman makes efforts to lead a virtuous life, to see and hear good things, and to do good deeds that will have a good impact on the fetus in her womb. These efforts are called taegyo, or prenatal education, which includes not only what should be done but also what should not be done by the expectant mother. First, the pregant woman should not visit a place that is not considered a good

Korean Rites of Passage

Divine Pole

Sindae, literally spirit-receiving pole, is a bamboo pole or rod used in Korean folk religion to receive, or to move, a god, from the sky, from deep inside the mountaiun, or from a shrine. An alternate version of the term is singan, and these poles also serve as markers of prohibited spaces, and include village guardian deity poles (seonangdae), farmings flags (nonggi) and sacred poles (sotdae). Divines poles are generally used for village tutelary rituals (dongje) and also during shamanic ritua

Korean Folk Beliefs

Rice Tomb

Bammudeom, a term that literally means, “rice tomb, ” refers to the hole for burying the steamed rice (me) that had been offered as sacrifice, a practice observed as part of village tutelary festivals (dongje) in South Gyeongsang Province. Rice tombs are generally located under the village guardian tree (dangsannamu) or a spot considered clean, or under the poles of the four directions in the village. Rice tombs are built in a range of forms, which vary by region: Some in the form of stone stack

Korean Folk Beliefs

Nose Ring for Cows

Soekotture is the term for the wooden ring attached to the nose of a cow, also used as a sorcery tool for keeping out evil spirits. These nose rings are made with tree branches between 2 and 3 centimeters thick, the bark stripped and fastened with rope to be shaped into a ring. Cows are big, powerful animals, but once the nose ring is attached, the pain confines them to a life that is constrained by humans. The nose ring, therefore, was a symbolic tool that connotes eternal confinement, and ther

Korean Folk Beliefs

BaeYoungdong

11 count

BaeYoungdong

11

Memorial plaque

A kind of funeral prop placed at the burial site, jiseok refers to a stone plate or plaque inscribed with biographical information of the deceased: name, bongwan (Kor. 본관, Chin. 本貫, clan origin), year of birth and death, gyebo (Kor. 계보, Chin 系譜, family lineage), and achievements. The memorial stone plaque also serves as a grave marker. It is presumed that this kind of memorial stone plaque originated from China and was first introduced to Korea during the Three Kingdoms period. The practice of e

Korean Rites of Passage

Spirit tablet case

A sacred space or facility where the image of a deity or object symbolizing a supernatural being is stored. Gamsil is a facility inside a Confucian shrine used to store the spirit tablets of the ancestors. There were, of course, many households that had a gamsil to enshrine the spirit tablets of their ancestors, even though they had no family shrine. The size of the gamsil varied according to the number of the generations of ancestors for whom memorial rites were regularly held. The most prevale

Korean Rites of Passage

Taboo rope

A special rice straw rope made when a child was born and hung over various significant objects or places, such as a gate, village entrance, crockery terrace and village tutelary tree, to warn unwanted visitors to fend off evil forces. When a child was born, a straw rope was hung over the front gate of the baby’s home, announcing his or her birth. In addition, the straw rope was intended to prevent the entrance of uninvited visitors to the house under the belief that some evil forces might exploi

Korean Rites of Passage

Rites for four generations of ancestors

Confucian custom of holding memorial rites in honor of the four latest generations of ancestors, from deceased parents to the great great grandparents. The tradition of sadaebongsa was established in the belief that the great great grandparents would be the oldest ancestors one has a chance to see before their death. Descendants sharing the same great great grandparents are sometimes referred to as yubokchin (Kor. 유복친, Chin. 有服親, lit. relatives in mourning garments), because they were entitled t

Korean Rites of Passage

Holding ancestral rites and showing hospitality to guests

Confucian virtue of holding ancestral memorial rites and showing hospitality to guests. The head family of a clan typically held more than twelve ancestral memorial rites in a year to fulfill their duty of sadaebongsa (Kor. 사대봉사, Chin. 四代奉祀, lit. conducting memorial rites for the four latest generations of ancestors), including gijesa (Kor. 기제사, Chin. 忌祭祀, memorial rite for ancestors on their death anniversary), myoje (Kor. 묘제, Chin. 墓祭, memorial service held at the grave of an ancestor) and cha

Korean Rites of Passage

Grave goods

Miniature objects in various shapes, including human beings, animals and man-made objects, buried with the body of the deceased, symbolizing wishes for their peace and comfort in the afterlife. The grave objects called myeonggi are miniature items in the shape of human figures and various everyday objects such as kitchenware, musical instruments, furniture, and weaponry. They came into use from the early Joseon period and are well documented in the “Chapter of Five Rites” in “Sejongsillok, ” wit

Korean Rites of Passage

Ancestral grave visit

Visiting ancestral graves to clean and look after them. Seongmyo refers to visiting ancestral graves on major traditional holidays such as Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, harvest moon festival, fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month) or seasonal occasions such as Hansik (Kor. 한식, Chin. 寒食, lit. cold food [day]) to clean and take care of them. Looking after the ancestral graves where the bodies are buried has been traditionally considered as important as holding ancestral rites in honor of the ances

Korean Rites of Passage

Hoe Washing Festival

Homissisi (Kor. 호미씻이, Chin. 洗鋤宴, 洗鋤會, lit. hoe washing) is a traditional summer festival held in farming communities in the beginning or middle of the seventh lunar month. By this time major activities related to the growth of crops are finished, as it is reflected in the name of the festival: a homi (Kor. 호미, hand hoe) is the main tool for weeding, the last task that farmers need to complete before harvesting in autumn. Thus, Homissisi represents the end of weeding via the act of "washing

Korean Seasonal Customs

Death anniversary rite

A Confucian rite performed in memory of ancestors at the earliest possible hour on their death anniversary. Gijesa is a term referring to a Confucian memorial rite held to honor the ancestors at the earliest hour on the anniversary of their death with food offerings prepared the day before. Koreans have maintained this tradition to remember and honor their ancestors on this day. The ceremony was traditionally held at jasi (Kor. 자시, Chin. 子時, the hour of the rat, between 23:30 to 00:30) when a ne

Korean Rites of Passage

Ritual offerings

Ritual food offered by the descendants to the ancestors during memorial rites. Jemul refers to food offerings used in memorial rites. Those preparing the rite take great care to keep the offerings from impurities by cleansing themselves, body and soul. They do not say anything unnecessary when buying the food or try to get discount on them. While cooking, the food is not tasted and care is taken to prevent human hair from falling onto the food. It is believed that if these taboos are not observe

Korean Rites of Passage

Head family

Head family of a clan descended through the eldest sons (under the concubine system, legitimate eldest sons). The concept of jongga originated in the code of clan regulations. The code of clan regulations is the logic that helps keep a kin group remain stable within a pyramid-shaped system; it is also a rule that prescribes where the legitimacy of the group is held. According to the code of clan regulations, an entire patrilineal kin group, that is, a lineage of eldest sons is called daejong (Ko

Korean Rites of Passage

BaekMinyoung

3 count

BaekMinyoung

3

Ritual for Goddess of Childbearing

Samsinmosigi is the ritual for worshipping Samsin, the Goddess of Childbearing, who blesses families with children and oversees their birth and health. Households that eagerly await children hold this ritual, especially families with only daughters and no son. Sometimes when a family is experiencing trouble, a shaman or fortuneteller recommends the ritual. Samsin ritual is officiated by the women of the family, including the wife, post-partum mother, or grandmother of a child. Sometimes an elder

Korean Folk Beliefs

Household Deities

Gasin are household deities that are worshipped within a home. In Korean folk religion, household deities reside in various parts of the home and are believed to be responsible for peace and wellbeing in the family, and the health and longevity of its members. Myriad household gods are worshipped, including Seongju (House Guardian God), Teoju (Land Tutelary God), Jowang (Kitchen Deity), Samsin (Goddess of Childbearing), Daegamsin (State Official God), Chilseong (Seven Stars), and Eop (God of Pro

Korean Folk Beliefs

Bride’s daily greetings to her parents-in-law

Custom in which the bride expresses her respect for the parents-in-law every morning or evening after hyeongugorye (Kor. 현구고례, Chin. 見舅姑禮, bride’s greeting to parents-in-law and other relatives after the wedding). After hyeongugorye, a bride spends the night at her husband’s home, gets up early in the morning, changes into clean clothes, and goes to greet her parents-in-law as a sign of respect. Depending on the family, the bride repeats this greeting in the evening before the parents-in-law go

Korean Rites of Passage

ByunHyemin

1 count

ByunHyemin

1

Funeral bier ornaments

Various objects used to adorn a bier or the paintings on the bier. Sangyeo, or the funeral bier, consists of three parts: the upper part considered an awning, the body, and the lower part with carrying poles. The top of the bier is covered with cloth (angjang) symbolizing floating clouds or a screen. The cloth is white, blue, or red. It is pleated with tassels or a traditional Korean lantern hanging from each corner. The lantern signifies light to guide the dead to the next world and a display o

Korean Rites of Passage

ByunJisun

2 count

ByunJisun

2

Possessing Spirit

Momjusin is the spirit that has descended upon the possessed, the principal agent of the spiritual powers acquired in a state of possession. Unlike other gods and spirits that descend during a ritual and channel words through the shaman, the possessing spirit maintains a continuing relationship with the possessed shaman, worshipped for life in the shaman’s personal shrine. Momjusin can be categorized into spirits connected with the shaman by blood ties and those that are not. The former are spir

Korean Folk Beliefs

Shamanic Fan

Buchae refers to the fan used as a shamanic tool in a ritual. The fan is one of the most important tools, central to the processes of a ritual. In a ritual, the shaman, as an agent of the gods, uses the fan to serve as a medium between the gods and her follower who has commissioned the ritual. When officiating a ritual or when trance channeling, the shaman has in her left hand the rattle and in her right the fan. She uses the fan to hide her face or to accept money. In shamanism, the fan is capa

Korean Folk Beliefs

CheonHyesook

17 count

CheonHyesook

17

Mighty Baby

The legend “Agijangsu” narrates the story of Mighty Baby, who meets a tragic death for being born with extraordinary abilities into a lowly family. It is unclear how far the tale dates back to, but a warrior born with wings under his arms is documented in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), from 12th century. A story similar to the Agijangsu legend is also included in the “Ancient Relics of Gangneung” section of Joseoneupji (Village Records of Joseon). The tale was transmitted widely in

Korean Folk Literature

Childbirth taboos

Taboos to be kept by the mother or her family members before and after the birth of a child. In the past, childbirth was always exposed to bujeong (Kor. 부정, Chin. 不淨, lit. impurities or bad luck), which led to anxieties over a new-born child lest the child go wrong. Childbirth taboos, or chulsangeumgi, were a measure to relieve a pregnant woman or woman with a new-born of their anxieties and to prevent mishaps from taking place. Childbirth taboos are divided by phase into prenatal and postnatal

Korean Rites of Passage

Great Flood

This legend narrates the story of a great flood in ancient times, which drowns the entire world except for a single mountain peak and two siblings, who wed and become the ancestors of mankind. A long, long time ago, a great flood turned the entire world into a vast sea, leaving only a brother and sister on a single mountain peak. When the world was drained of all the water, the siblings came down the mountain, but there was no one left. The siblings, worried that this would be the end of mankind

Korean Folk Literature

Three-Year Mountain Pass

The legend of Samnyeongogae (Three-Year Mountain Pass) narrates the story of a mountain pass that carried a curse that if a traveller stumbled and fell on the pass, the traveller would die within three years. An old man was walking home on Samnyeon- gogae, a pass across a mountain somewhere in Gyeongsang Province, when he fell down. In despair that he would die within three years, the old man called in his children to deliver his will, but his neighbor, who was a doctor, told him that falling do

Korean Folk Literature

Legends of Natural Creation

This category of legends narrates the origins of nature and natural phenomena of the world, including the sun, moon and stars; terrestrial features like mountains, rivers, ponds, rocks and caves; the sea, islands and bays; flora and fauna. It also includes tales of origins of geographical features. Some of the most widely observed narratives of natural creation include those of mountains or islands that floated from one location to another, or of mountains that survived a great flood. There are

Korean Folk Literature

Rich Man Pond

The legend of Jangjamot (Rich Man Pond) narrates the story of a rich man whose house was flooded in water and turned into a pond as a result of his ill treatment of a monk seeking donation, and of the rich man’s daughter-in-law, who turned into a rock for breaking a taboo imposed by the monk. Rich Man Hwang of Gangwon Province, whose family for three generations owned enough land to harvest ten thousand sacks of rice each year, was known for his ill-treatment of monks that came by seeking donati

Korean Folk Literature

Legends of Place Names

This category of legends narrates the origins of the names of villages and the various related place names. A number of place name legends are found in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), the earliest among them being the tale about the origins of the name Changwon, now a major city, which came from the fact that Crown Prince Haemyeong, during King Yuri’s reign in Goguryeo, killed himself with a spear, which is chang in Korean. There are also records of villages populated by people known

Korean Folk Literature

Dragon Fight

The legend“ Yongssaum ”narrates the story of a man who was asked by a dragon that lived in a pond to help in a dragon fight, and in return for assisting the dragon’s victory, was given a wide plain. The earliest remaining record of this legend is the“ Tale of Dojo (grandf ather of Joseon’s f ounder Yi Seong-gye), included in Yongbieocheonga (Songs o f Dragons Flying to Heaven). Other versions include the legends of Jeokji and Gonggeomji in Donggukyeojiseungnam ( Augmented Survey of the Geography

Korean Folk Literature

Lit. one hundredth day after birth

The one hundredth day after a child’s birth, or a family party celebrating that day. The term baegil refers literally to the one hundredth day following the birth of a child, but it also simply means many days. Korean society suffered a high infant mortality rate until the early 20th century, with many infants dying before they reached their one hundredth day. That is why past Koreans believed a special celebration was needed for a baby who had passed that critical period. For the celebration, c

Korean Rites of Passage

Aristocratic families with equal standing in terms of marriage eligibility

A clan-based community created through generations of intermarriage among upper class families. Honban refers to “compatible social status suitable for marriage” or “aristocratic families with equal standing in terms of marriage eligibility.” But in social science, it refers to a social alliance formed through frequent intermarriage between aristocratic families of equal social status where the marriage is arranged by a relative. In pre-modern society, marriage was a symbol of the family’s socia

Korean Rites of Passage

Sacred Mother of Mt. Seondo

This myth tells the story of Seondosanseongmo, the goddess of Mt. Seondo in Gyeongju, North Gyeong- sang Province and the mother of Bak Hyeokgeose, the founder and progenitor of the kingdom of Silla. During the reign of King Jinpyeong of Silla, the Sacred Mother of Mt. Seondo appeared in a dream of the Buddhist f emale monk Jihye, and ordered that the main hall at the temple Anheungsa should be repaired using gold buried under her shrine, and Jihye did as instructed. The goddess was a daughter o

Korean Folk Literature

Child Selling

Aipalgi, literally meaning, “child selling, ” is a ritual for praying for the longevity of a child believed to possess a short lifespan or bad fortune, by designating a deity or an object from nature as the child’s foster parent. The term is based on the idea that designating a foster parent is an act of selling the child, and variations include jasikpalgi (child selling), suyangbumo samgi (bind as foster parent) and suyangeomeoni samgi (bind as foster mother). The practice was generally observe

Korean Folk Beliefs

Myth of Kim Alji

The myth“ Kimaljisinhwa ”narrates the story of Kim Alji, progenitor of the Kim royal family of the Silla dynasty and the Gyeongju Kim clan. Kim Alji served as Daebo (Great Minister) under King Talhae and was named crown prince but was not enthroned, and his myth has been transmitted as progenitor myth or as part of clan history through genealogical records or family writings of the Gyeongju Kim clan. In the kingdom of Silla, during the reign of King Talhae, Great Minister Hogong (Duke Gourd) was

Korean Folk Literature

Grandmother Mago

The myth of Magohalmi tells the story of a giant goddess who created all of nature and its geographical formations of this universe. Giant goddess Magohalmi carried mud in her skirt and created mountains and islands. Her urine and excrement formed hills and rivers. Big rocks in various villages were placed there by Magohalmi’s hands or whips. Magohalmi’s body was so immense that 90, 000 pil of hemp was not enough to clothe her. She was so tall she walked across the seas off the island Wando, and

Korean Folk Literature

Village Myth

Maeulsinhwa, or village myths, tell the sacred story of a village’s beginnings, as well as the origins of village gods (dangsin) and miracles that demonstrate their divine powers. Village myths are passed down as an integral part of village rituals (dong je), sometimes recited during the rite as in the case of“ Dangbonpuri (Song of the Origin of Village Guardian God) ”from Jeju Island, and they are continuously revised and renewed along with the evolution of the various forms of village god wors

Korean Folk Literature

Wedding ceremony

Traditional marriage procedure consisting of gyobaerye (Kor. 교배례, Chin. 交拜禮, lit. bow exchanging ceremony) and hapgeullye (Kor. 합근례, Chin. 合 巹禮, liquor sharing ceremony) held at choryecheong. Literally meaning “a large and important ceremony, ” the term daerye refers to major ceremonies held at the royal court in which the king participated, but outside the court it meant a ceremony held to conclude a marriage. A wedding ceremony has long been called daerye among the Korean people, and has been

Korean Rites of Passage

Lit. groom’s visit to the bride’s family

Bridegroom’s first visit to the bride’s maiden home after the wedding. Jaehaeng refers to the first visit to the bride’s maiden home by a groom, who returned to his family after the wedding was held at the bride’s house. Generally, jaehaeng takes place before sinhaeng (Kor. 신행, Chin. 新行, post-wedding journey of the bride to the groom’s home), and it can be carriedout with his parents’ permission after receiving a message from the bride’s family. Jaehaeng is meaningful as the first visit to his w

Korean Rites of Passage

CheonJinki

11 count

CheonJinki

11

Stealing for Fun

Historically, youngsters would steal fruits, vegetables or crops to appease their hunger. Considered a tolerable action in the past as long as their actions did not cause the farmer serious financial damage, this activity is currently regarded as a crime. Referred to as seori (Kor. 서리), this mischievous act was conducted in the summer, as an adventure to get both food and thrills. The main targets were crops, vegetables, and fruits such as wheat, barley, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant

Korean Seasonal Customs

Great Cold

Daehan (Kor. 대한, Chin. 大寒, lit. Great Cold) is the last of the twenty-four solar terms. It occurs in the end of the twelfth lunar month and is around January the twentieth on the Gregorian calendar. The sun around this time is situated at an ecliptic longitude of 300°. Winter cold intensifies progressively after Ipdong (Kor. 입동, Chin. 立冬, Onset of Winter), with temperature hitting new lows successively on Soseol (Kor. 소설, Chin. 小雪, First Snow), Daeseol (Kor. 대설, Chin. 大雪, Snow Blast), Dongji (Ko

Korean Seasonal Customs

Minor Cold

The twenty-third of the twenty-four solar terms, Sohan (Kor. 소한, Chin. 小寒, lit. Slight Cold), falls sometime in the twelfth lunar month. It is the first solar term occurring after the Gregorian New Year’s Day and is usually around January fifth. On this day, the sun is at an ecliptic longitude of 285°. In ancient China, the fifteen-day period between Sohan and Daehan (Kor. 대한, Chin. 大寒, lit. Great Cold) was divided into three smaller periods of five days each. The first of these periods was char

Korean Seasonal Customs

Legends of Animals and Non-Living Objects

This category of legends narrates stories about real or imaginary animals and obejcts. In Korean culure, animals are portrayed as agents of divinity or sorcery, playing the role of medium between humans and gods; between the world of the living and the underworld; between the self and the universe. Tigers and dragons are the most commonly featured in folk narratives, followed by horses, cows, snakes, chickens, turtles and dogs. These tales explain the origins of an animal’s appearances or traits

Korean Folk Literature

Origin of Twelve Animal Signs

This legend narrates the origins of sibiji, or the twelve animal signs of the traditional zodiac.rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.and how they were selected and arranged. A long, long time ago, the king of the heavens wished to designate official positions to animals. After considering the selection criteria, he announced that positions would be given to animals arriving first at the celestial gate on the first day of the first lunar month. Upon he

Korean Folk Literature

Lesser Cuckoo

There are two narratives related to the bird jeopdong- sae, or the lesser cuckoo, in the Korean oral tradition: One narrates the tragic story of a maiden harassed by her stepmother, who died and became a lesser cuckoo; and the other of a man who became a lesser cuckoo when he was driven to death by his grievance of losing his bride to the king. Jeopdongsae, with its mournful cry, the sound of which is reflected on its name, is featured prominently in traditional verse to capture sentiments of so

Korean Folk Literature

Cold Dew

Hallo (Kor. 한로, Chin. 寒露, lit. Cold Dew), the seventeenth of the twenty-four solar terms, is marked by a drop in temperature, when dew is on the verge of turning into frost. On the Gregorian calendar, Hallo usually falls on October eighth or ninth, when the sun is at 195° on the ecliptic. On the lunar calendar, Hallo falls in the ninth month. At this time of year, farmers thresh grain and are busy trying to finish all harvest-related tasks before the temperature plummets further. The colors of t

Korean Seasonal Customs

Fishing Picnic

For cheollyeop (Kor. 천렵, Chin. 川獵, lit. stream fishing) people get together to spend all day fishing on a river. This leisure activity, which usually consisted of river bathing, fishing, and cooking fish stew was practiced in the spring and autumn, but was more popular during summer, particularly during the hottest period of Sambok (Kor. 삼복, Chin. 三伏, Three Dog Days, three hottest days in the sixth and seventh lunar months). On Ganghwa Island, for instance, villagers went to the river with fishi

Korean Seasonal Customs

Horse Ritual

Maje is a ritual for worshipping the horse or to prevent illness in horses, and is related to the sacred horses enshrined at village shrines as horses ridden by Sansin (Mountain God) or Seonang (Village Guardian Deity). Maje was carried out on various levels, organized by the state, the community or individual households. State-organized horse rituals date back to the kingdom of Unified Silla (676-935), as seen in records of a range of rites including majoje (horse ancestor ritual) for worshippi

Korean Folk Beliefs

Banners of the Guardian Gods of the Five Directions

Obangsinjanggi, or the banners of the guardian gods of the five directions, is a set of banners in five colors, used for divination in shamanic rituals. These flags are made with bamboo staffs around 70 centimeters long, some as long as 100 centimeters, the banner with silk or other fabric, sometimes dyed mulberry paper. They are around 70 centimeters in width and 50 centimeters in length. The colors of the banners are associated with the five directions according to traditional cosmology: blue

Korean Folk Beliefs

Twelve Zodiac Days

Sibijiil (Kor. 십이지일, Chin. 十二支日, Twelve Zodiac Days) refers to the first twelve days of the Lunar New Year that are represented by the twelve Chinese zodiac animals, i.e., rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. They can also be called Jeongcho Sibijiil (Kor. 정초십이지일, Chin. 正初十二支日, twelve zodiac days of the beginning of the year) or simply Jimseungnal (Kor. 짐승날, lit. animal days). The zodiac calendar is a separate system that does not correlate to the luna

Korean Seasonal Customs
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