Grains(谷物)

Grains

Headword

곡물 ( 谷物 , Gongmul )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Worship of Household Gods > Sacred Entity

Writer NamGeunwoo(南根祐)

Gongmul refers to all the grains that serve as food for humans, and also as important sacred entities in the worship of household gods, and includes rice, barley, wheat, millet, soybeans, red beans, sorghum and corn.

In Korean folk religion, there are three uses for grains: First as a means of sorcery in rituals related to life events including birth, and to farming and seasonal customs; second as sacrifice offered to deities in rituals for household gods or those related to life events of farming; third, as sacred entities (sinche) that represent deities. These uses are all associated with the worship of gongnyeong, or corn spirit, which was the belief in ancient agricultural societies that grains were spiritual entities possessing fundamental forces, from germination and growth to fruition. Therefore, worshipping grains and sharing the grains as food were considered means of achieving prosperity and happiness in a family or a community.

This faith was developed because for farmers, preserving good grain seeds over winter was crucial to their livelihood and required special care and attention, not only in practical terms but as a process of religious devotion to help restore and revive the force and energy that the corn spirit possessed. So from fall to spring, various farming-related seasonal customs were observed, including harvest rites and prayer rituals, and most household gods rituals were also centered on grain seeds, especially rice.

The most important part of annual rituals for the house guardian deity Seongju and other household gods is the changing of grains that were enshrined the previous year for newly harvested ones. Grains that are enshrined through household rituals like gosa and antaek serve as objects of worship in memorial services that follow, their dates varying by region and family. In each home, grains were kept inside earthenware jars (danji), baskets or gourd bowls to be worshipped as sacred entities. When the grains in these sacred containers are replaced, they are used to cook rice or rice cake, to be shared only amongst family members, since it was believed that if these grains leave the house, they would take with them the forces of the corn spirit, dissipating and weakening its powers, which could result in a bad harvest and bad fortune.

Grains

Grains
Headword

곡물 ( 谷物 , Gongmul )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Worship of Household Gods > Sacred Entity

Writer NamGeunwoo(南根祐)

Gongmul refers to all the grains that serve as food for humans, and also as important sacred entities in the worship of household gods, and includes rice, barley, wheat, millet, soybeans, red beans, sorghum and corn.

In Korean folk religion, there are three uses for grains: First as a means of sorcery in rituals related to life events including birth, and to farming and seasonal customs; second as sacrifice offered to deities in rituals for household gods or those related to life events of farming; third, as sacred entities (sinche) that represent deities. These uses are all associated with the worship of gongnyeong, or corn spirit, which was the belief in ancient agricultural societies that grains were spiritual entities possessing fundamental forces, from germination and growth to fruition. Therefore, worshipping grains and sharing the grains as food were considered means of achieving prosperity and happiness in a family or a community.

This faith was developed because for farmers, preserving good grain seeds over winter was crucial to their livelihood and required special care and attention, not only in practical terms but as a process of religious devotion to help restore and revive the force and energy that the corn spirit possessed. So from fall to spring, various farming-related seasonal customs were observed, including harvest rites and prayer rituals, and most household gods rituals were also centered on grain seeds, especially rice.

The most important part of annual rituals for the house guardian deity Seongju and other household gods is the changing of grains that were enshrined the previous year for newly harvested ones. Grains that are enshrined through household rituals like gosa and antaek serve as objects of worship in memorial services that follow, their dates varying by region and family. In each home, grains were kept inside earthenware jars (danji), baskets or gourd bowls to be worshipped as sacred entities. When the grains in these sacred containers are replaced, they are used to cook rice or rice cake, to be shared only amongst family members, since it was believed that if these grains leave the house, they would take with them the forces of the corn spirit, dissipating and weakening its powers, which could result in a bad harvest and bad fortune.