Goddess of Childbearing(三神)

Goddess of Childbearing

Headword

삼신 ( 三神 , Samsin )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Rites of Passage > Korean Rites of Passage > Chulsaenguirye

Writer LeePilyoung(李弼泳)

Samsin refers to the deity who, according to Korean folk belief, presides over all affairs related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Samsin is a compound of the Korean word sam and the Chinese character sin (神) for deity or spirit. The Korean word sam refers to “life” or “giving birth to life.” According to experts, it originated from the old Korean verb “samgida, ” meaning “to be formed, ” and the noun “sam, ” meaning “placenta.” Hence Samsin is understood as the deity of life, or one delivering life. The deity became a subject of worship in various ceremonies related to the birth and growth of children, such as those praying for a child, for safe birth, for postnatal health, and for the baby’s safety in the first three weeks of life, as well as the events celebrating the baby’s one hundredth day and the first birthday.

Samsin is one of the major gasin (Kor. 가신, Chin. 家神, a deity or spirit that protects the home, presiding over the fortune of the family) who was highly revered among families with children or expecting a child, or newly married couples. Worship of Samsin tended to grow stronger with pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing.

The deity’s sinche (Kor. 신체, Chin. 神體, an object regarded as sacred because of its connection with a specific deity) includes a water dipper called samsinbagaji, pot called samsindanji, and bag called samsinjumeoni. Worshippers put rice in one of those vessels and tied a coil of yarn around it. The rice is not an offering, but instead the body of the deity itself, indicating that the deity is essentially one made of grains.

When there was a pregnant woman in the house, families prepared a bundle of clean rice straws called samsinjip and hung it on a rack or above the door of the main bedroom. The offering table for Samsin was arranged with a bowl of cooked rice, seaweed soup, clean water, soy sauce, and a coil of yarn. Liquor was not included. Seaweed soup was considered mandatory because it is closely connected with pregnant women and childbirth. The seaweed for the soup was purchased in the same month as the birth of the baby, believing that seaweed bought prematurely could lead to a delay of the birth. The seaweed was stored in a clean, safe place out of children’s reach and could not be bent, however long it may have been. According to folk belief, a child who took a bite of the seaweed to be consumed by his or her mother would later be bitten by the younger sibling, yet to be born. This idea probably developed from the necessity of providing the mother with the freshest seaweed possible.

This ref lects the belief that the parents’ efforts alone could not ensure the smooth progress of pregnancy, delivery, and childcare. The help of Samsin was also needed. That is, the entire process of childbirth was believed to be presided over by the deity. For the worshippers, therefore, the presence of Samsin should not be forgotten even for a moment. They relied on Samsin, particularly when they faced difficult situations.

Goddess of Childbearing

Goddess of Childbearing
Headword

삼신 ( 三神 , Samsin )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Rites of Passage > Korean Rites of Passage > Chulsaenguirye

Writer LeePilyoung(李弼泳)

Samsin refers to the deity who, according to Korean folk belief, presides over all affairs related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Samsin is a compound of the Korean word sam and the Chinese character sin (神) for deity or spirit. The Korean word sam refers to “life” or “giving birth to life.” According to experts, it originated from the old Korean verb “samgida, ” meaning “to be formed, ” and the noun “sam, ” meaning “placenta.” Hence Samsin is understood as the deity of life, or one delivering life. The deity became a subject of worship in various ceremonies related to the birth and growth of children, such as those praying for a child, for safe birth, for postnatal health, and for the baby’s safety in the first three weeks of life, as well as the events celebrating the baby’s one hundredth day and the first birthday.

Samsin is one of the major gasin (Kor. 가신, Chin. 家神, a deity or spirit that protects the home, presiding over the fortune of the family) who was highly revered among families with children or expecting a child, or newly married couples. Worship of Samsin tended to grow stronger with pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing.

The deity’s sinche (Kor. 신체, Chin. 神體, an object regarded as sacred because of its connection with a specific deity) includes a water dipper called samsinbagaji, pot called samsindanji, and bag called samsinjumeoni. Worshippers put rice in one of those vessels and tied a coil of yarn around it. The rice is not an offering, but instead the body of the deity itself, indicating that the deity is essentially one made of grains.

When there was a pregnant woman in the house, families prepared a bundle of clean rice straws called samsinjip and hung it on a rack or above the door of the main bedroom. The offering table for Samsin was arranged with a bowl of cooked rice, seaweed soup, clean water, soy sauce, and a coil of yarn. Liquor was not included. Seaweed soup was considered mandatory because it is closely connected with pregnant women and childbirth. The seaweed for the soup was purchased in the same month as the birth of the baby, believing that seaweed bought prematurely could lead to a delay of the birth. The seaweed was stored in a clean, safe place out of children’s reach and could not be bent, however long it may have been. According to folk belief, a child who took a bite of the seaweed to be consumed by his or her mother would later be bitten by the younger sibling, yet to be born. This idea probably developed from the necessity of providing the mother with the freshest seaweed possible.

This ref lects the belief that the parents’ efforts alone could not ensure the smooth progress of pregnancy, delivery, and childcare. The help of Samsin was also needed. That is, the entire process of childbirth was believed to be presided over by the deity. For the worshippers, therefore, the presence of Samsin should not be forgotten even for a moment. They relied on Samsin, particularly when they faced difficult situations.