Graveside rites(墓祭)

Graveside rites

Headword

묘제 ( 墓祭 )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Rites of Passage > Korean Rites of Passage > Jerye

Writer KimSiduk(金時德)

Memorial rite held at an ancestor’s grave.

There are several different terms for the memorial rite held at the ancestor’s grave according to region, including sije (Kor. 시제, Chin. 時祭, lit. memorial rite at designated times), sisa (Kor. 시사, Chin. 時祀, lit. rite at designated times), sihyang (Kor. 시향, Chin. 時享, lit. entertainment at designated times), myosa (Kor. 묘사, Chin. 墓祀, lit. rite held at the grave), and hoejeon (Kor. 회전, Chin. 會奠, lit. gathering for a ceremony).

While myoje refers to the memorial rites held at the ancestors’ graves, the subject of worship may differ according to family and region. According to “Saryejibui, ” the memorial rites for one’s great-great-grandparents or older ancestors are held on the first day of the tenth month in addition to the rites held at the graveside. While the date on which myoje is held may vary, the bongsadaesu (Kor. 봉사대수, Chin. 奉祀代數, the number of generations of ancestors for whom memorial rites are regularly held) is always the same. Therefore, the subjects worshipped at graveside memorial rites range from the founders of a clan or family to the latest generations of ancestors.

The graveside memorial rite follows almost the exact procedures of ancestral rites held at home. When it is not possible to reach the ancestor’s grave for some reason, for example, a natural disaster, the rite may be held in the format of mangje (Kor. 망제, Chin. 望祭, lit. rite held from a distance), which takes place at a ritual hall or a place some distance from the grave. The myoje procedures are somewhat simpler than those of rites held at home due to the open-air location. Their major procedures are as follows.

① Preparation of the ceremony, ② Cleaning of the gravesite, ③ Arrangement of food offerings, ④ Evoking and paying revernece to the ancestral spirits, ⑤ Three offerings of wine, ⑥ Salutation to the departing spirits and removal of food offerings, and ⑦ Thanksgiving ceremony for the god of the earth.

It is not certain whether the graveside rite, developed from native folk customs, was intended to honor the ancestral spirit or baek, the corporeal soul, bound to the corpse. But the details in the procedures of chamsin (Kor. 참신, Chin. 參神, paying reverence to the descending spirit) and gangsin (Kor. 강신, Chin. 降神, evoking the ancestral spirit) as well as the written prayers indicate the rite is held in honor of the ancestral spirits. In Korea, the graveside rites are also held on seasonal holidays and death anniversaries, reflecting the fact that the sasije were later incorporated into the seasonal holiday rites. The custom of graveside rites suggests that Koreans of the past placed importance in both the ancestral spirits and their coporeal souls.

Graveside rites

Graveside rites
Headword

묘제 ( 墓祭 )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Rites of Passage > Korean Rites of Passage > Jerye

Writer KimSiduk(金時德)

Memorial rite held at an ancestor’s grave.

There are several different terms for the memorial rite held at the ancestor’s grave according to region, including sije (Kor. 시제, Chin. 時祭, lit. memorial rite at designated times), sisa (Kor. 시사, Chin. 時祀, lit. rite at designated times), sihyang (Kor. 시향, Chin. 時享, lit. entertainment at designated times), myosa (Kor. 묘사, Chin. 墓祀, lit. rite held at the grave), and hoejeon (Kor. 회전, Chin. 會奠, lit. gathering for a ceremony).

While myoje refers to the memorial rites held at the ancestors’ graves, the subject of worship may differ according to family and region. According to “Saryejibui, ” the memorial rites for one’s great-great-grandparents or older ancestors are held on the first day of the tenth month in addition to the rites held at the graveside. While the date on which myoje is held may vary, the bongsadaesu (Kor. 봉사대수, Chin. 奉祀代數, the number of generations of ancestors for whom memorial rites are regularly held) is always the same. Therefore, the subjects worshipped at graveside memorial rites range from the founders of a clan or family to the latest generations of ancestors.

The graveside memorial rite follows almost the exact procedures of ancestral rites held at home. When it is not possible to reach the ancestor’s grave for some reason, for example, a natural disaster, the rite may be held in the format of mangje (Kor. 망제, Chin. 望祭, lit. rite held from a distance), which takes place at a ritual hall or a place some distance from the grave. The myoje procedures are somewhat simpler than those of rites held at home due to the open-air location. Their major procedures are as follows.

① Preparation of the ceremony, ② Cleaning of the gravesite, ③ Arrangement of food offerings, ④ Evoking and paying revernece to the ancestral spirits, ⑤ Three offerings of wine, ⑥ Salutation to the departing spirits and removal of food offerings, and ⑦ Thanksgiving ceremony for the god of the earth.

It is not certain whether the graveside rite, developed from native folk customs, was intended to honor the ancestral spirit or baek, the corporeal soul, bound to the corpse. But the details in the procedures of chamsin (Kor. 참신, Chin. 參神, paying reverence to the descending spirit) and gangsin (Kor. 강신, Chin. 降神, evoking the ancestral spirit) as well as the written prayers indicate the rite is held in honor of the ancestral spirits. In Korea, the graveside rites are also held on seasonal holidays and death anniversaries, reflecting the fact that the sasije were later incorporated into the seasonal holiday rites. The custom of graveside rites suggests that Koreans of the past placed importance in both the ancestral spirits and their coporeal souls.