Divine Knife(神刀)

Divine Knife

Headword

신칼 ( 神刀 , Sinkal )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Ritual Props

Writer LeeJungjae(李丁宰)

Sinkal, or divine knife, is a prop used by a shaman when staging a ritual.

Sinkal comes in many shapes, names, and functions.

Its range of size or shape includes small or large; with handle or without; straight or curvilinear; with fixed blade or a bending blade; with steel blade or wooden blade.

Other terms for the shaman’s knife include mukal, sinmyeongdo, daesinkal, and daemusinkal. Specific names of the knives can be categorized by shape, by the deity that they represent, or by function. The first includes woldo (moon knife) and eonwoldo (half-moon knife). Sinjangkal (knife of the guardian god), chilseongkal (knife of the Seven Stars), janggunkal (knife of commander god), and byeolsangkal (knife of deceased royalty god) are names that reflect the deities that the knives stand for. Names that reflect the function of a knife include bujeongkal (impurity knife), which is thrown to the ground in the beginning and ending of a ritual to tell if the god has left or if the evil spirit has been chased away; and ipkal (mouth knife), which the shaman holds between her lips during a ritual. Sizes also vary, but are generally not longer than 1.5 meters, most around 30 to 40 centimeters.

Sinkal has many uses in the ritual process, but most importantly, serves as a symbol of the authority of the shaman and the gods, while representing the worshipped god. The knives are believed to cut away bad fortune and bring in good fortune. In the stick-erecting process (saseulseugi) of a ritual, sinjangkal is used along with the three-pronged spear samjichang, signifying that the knife is sacred. Sinkal is also used as a prop in shamanic dance and as a tool for divination.

Divine Knife

Divine Knife
Headword

신칼 ( 神刀 , Sinkal )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Ritual Props

Writer LeeJungjae(李丁宰)

Sinkal, or divine knife, is a prop used by a shaman when staging a ritual.

Sinkal comes in many shapes, names, and functions.

Its range of size or shape includes small or large; with handle or without; straight or curvilinear; with fixed blade or a bending blade; with steel blade or wooden blade.

Other terms for the shaman’s knife include mukal, sinmyeongdo, daesinkal, and daemusinkal. Specific names of the knives can be categorized by shape, by the deity that they represent, or by function. The first includes woldo (moon knife) and eonwoldo (half-moon knife). Sinjangkal (knife of the guardian god), chilseongkal (knife of the Seven Stars), janggunkal (knife of commander god), and byeolsangkal (knife of deceased royalty god) are names that reflect the deities that the knives stand for. Names that reflect the function of a knife include bujeongkal (impurity knife), which is thrown to the ground in the beginning and ending of a ritual to tell if the god has left or if the evil spirit has been chased away; and ipkal (mouth knife), which the shaman holds between her lips during a ritual. Sizes also vary, but are generally not longer than 1.5 meters, most around 30 to 40 centimeters.

Sinkal has many uses in the ritual process, but most importantly, serves as a symbol of the authority of the shaman and the gods, while representing the worshipped god. The knives are believed to cut away bad fortune and bring in good fortune. In the stick-erecting process (saseulseugi) of a ritual, sinjangkal is used along with the three-pronged spear samjichang, signifying that the knife is sacred. Sinkal is also used as a prop in shamanic dance and as a tool for divination.