Stone Stack(石塔)

Stone Stack

Headword

돌탑 ( 石塔 , Doltap )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Worship of Village Gods > Sacred Entity

Writer KimHyokyung(金孝慶)

Doltap, or stone stacks, refer to elaborate conical cairns erected at village entrances as objects of worship believed to keep away bad fortunes and invite in the good.

Stone stacks are generally observed in mountainous inland regions of South and North Chungcheong, North Jeolla, Gangwon and South Gyeongsang provinces, but are found on Jeju Island as well. They serve not only as guardians against diseases, evil forces, fire, and tiger attacks, but also as structures to supplement specific geographical features that are considered inauspicious according to geomantic beliefs. In other words, they are closely related to the faith of bibo, or geomantic supplementation, which is not common among worship monuments. They are built through communal effort to worship the village gods, and must be distinguished from simple stone piles at the entrances to temples, mountain paths or near village guardian deity shrines (seonangdang), formed randomly by travelers or for personal prayer.

The worship of stone stacks is based on the most basic religious principle relying on the permanence and unchangeability of rocks. Stone stacks can take the shape of a cone, cylinder, or half-sphere, and may contain inside various items that reflect the villagers’ prayers: pitchfork for raking in fortune; five kinds of grains to pray for a good harvest; talismans to keep out bad fortune; wooden charcoal or a jar of salt to prevent damage from flooding; sorcery items to supplement geomantic weaknesses including pig, cauldron and straw; and a sheet containing the date of the erection and a list of the names of those who participated in the construction. The contents are known only by the villagers.

If there is a separate shrine in the village for mountain god rituals (sanjedang), a single stone stack or a pair is erected at the village entrance as a low shrine deity (hadangsin), but if the village does not have a mountain ritual shrine, the stone stack serves as the high shrine. The stacks are also referred to as halmeonitap (grandmother stack) or harabeojitap (grandfather stack). Communal rituals held for the stone stack are called tapje or doltapje (stone stack ritual), jotapje (stack building ritual), or georije (street ritual), and take place around Seol (Lunar New Year) or on Jeongwoldaeboreum (Great Full Moon), or in the tenth lunar month. For the ritual, a taboo rope (geumjul) is wound around the stack and a piece of paper is placed on the top stone, which personifies the stack as a grandmother spirit or grandfather spirit, who will guard the village for the year.

Stone Stack

Stone Stack
Headword

돌탑 ( 石塔 , Doltap )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Worship of Village Gods > Sacred Entity

Writer KimHyokyung(金孝慶)

Doltap, or stone stacks, refer to elaborate conical cairns erected at village entrances as objects of worship believed to keep away bad fortunes and invite in the good.

Stone stacks are generally observed in mountainous inland regions of South and North Chungcheong, North Jeolla, Gangwon and South Gyeongsang provinces, but are found on Jeju Island as well. They serve not only as guardians against diseases, evil forces, fire, and tiger attacks, but also as structures to supplement specific geographical features that are considered inauspicious according to geomantic beliefs. In other words, they are closely related to the faith of bibo, or geomantic supplementation, which is not common among worship monuments. They are built through communal effort to worship the village gods, and must be distinguished from simple stone piles at the entrances to temples, mountain paths or near village guardian deity shrines (seonangdang), formed randomly by travelers or for personal prayer.

The worship of stone stacks is based on the most basic religious principle relying on the permanence and unchangeability of rocks. Stone stacks can take the shape of a cone, cylinder, or half-sphere, and may contain inside various items that reflect the villagers’ prayers: pitchfork for raking in fortune; five kinds of grains to pray for a good harvest; talismans to keep out bad fortune; wooden charcoal or a jar of salt to prevent damage from flooding; sorcery items to supplement geomantic weaknesses including pig, cauldron and straw; and a sheet containing the date of the erection and a list of the names of those who participated in the construction. The contents are known only by the villagers.

If there is a separate shrine in the village for mountain god rituals (sanjedang), a single stone stack or a pair is erected at the village entrance as a low shrine deity (hadangsin), but if the village does not have a mountain ritual shrine, the stone stack serves as the high shrine. The stacks are also referred to as halmeonitap (grandmother stack) or harabeojitap (grandfather stack). Communal rituals held for the stone stack are called tapje or doltapje (stone stack ritual), jotapje (stack building ritual), or georije (street ritual), and take place around Seol (Lunar New Year) or on Jeongwoldaeboreum (Great Full Moon), or in the tenth lunar month. For the ritual, a taboo rope (geumjul) is wound around the stack and a piece of paper is placed on the top stone, which personifies the stack as a grandmother spirit or grandfather spirit, who will guard the village for the year.