Life Bridge(命桥)

Life Bridge

Headword

명다리 ( 命桥 , Myeongdari )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Ritual Props

Writer KimTaewoo(金泰佑)

Myeongdari, a term that literally means, “life bridge, ” is a strip of fabric that serves as a marker of foster parenthood formed between a shaman and her follower (dangol), offered to the gods to pray for longevity.

Myeongdari comprises a strip of white cotton cloth, skeins of thread and mulberry paper, the thread inserted into the folds of the cloth, which is folded up and wrapped with mulberry paper, and kept in a pile.

This offering is made by parents to their regular shaman on the years their child turns one, three, five or other odd-numbered years of age. The shaman offers the package of cloth to Chilseong (Seven Stars) to pray for the longevity of the child, and keeps it in a chest at the foot of the shrine or under the altar. These life bridges are effective for a limited time and must be replaced with a new one in order to extend their powers. This practice of offering myeongdari to a shaman is called “child selling (aipalgi), ” and the “sold” child becomes the shaman’s foster daughter or son, and the shaman the foster parent, thereby forming an exclusive relationship as follower and family shaman. The practice is rooted in the belief that a shaman with special powers oversees the lifespan of a child.

As a foster parent, the shaman is responsible for praying for the longevity of her foster children, and when she holds her ritual of thanksgiving to her gods (sindanggut), she performs a dance using the white cloths from the myeongdari packages and offers prayers. When a shaman moves away, she can sell the life bridges, and when a shaman dies, the shaman who succeeds her position can inherit or burn the cloths.

Life Bridge

Life Bridge
Headword

명다리 ( 命桥 , Myeongdari )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Ritual Props

Writer KimTaewoo(金泰佑)

Myeongdari, a term that literally means, “life bridge, ” is a strip of fabric that serves as a marker of foster parenthood formed between a shaman and her follower (dangol), offered to the gods to pray for longevity.

Myeongdari comprises a strip of white cotton cloth, skeins of thread and mulberry paper, the thread inserted into the folds of the cloth, which is folded up and wrapped with mulberry paper, and kept in a pile.

This offering is made by parents to their regular shaman on the years their child turns one, three, five or other odd-numbered years of age. The shaman offers the package of cloth to Chilseong (Seven Stars) to pray for the longevity of the child, and keeps it in a chest at the foot of the shrine or under the altar. These life bridges are effective for a limited time and must be replaced with a new one in order to extend their powers. This practice of offering myeongdari to a shaman is called “child selling (aipalgi), ” and the “sold” child becomes the shaman’s foster daughter or son, and the shaman the foster parent, thereby forming an exclusive relationship as follower and family shaman. The practice is rooted in the belief that a shaman with special powers oversees the lifespan of a child.

As a foster parent, the shaman is responsible for praying for the longevity of her foster children, and when she holds her ritual of thanksgiving to her gods (sindanggut), she performs a dance using the white cloths from the myeongdari packages and offers prayers. When a shaman moves away, she can sell the life bridges, and when a shaman dies, the shaman who succeeds her position can inherit or burn the cloths.