Exorcism Rite(儺禮)

Exorcism Rite

Headword

나례 ( 儺禮 , Narye )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Winter > 12th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer HwangKyungsook(黃京淑)

Narye (Kor. 나례, Chin. 儺禮, lit. exorcism rite) refers to the rite aimed at warding off evil spirits; the rite is performed by masked officiants. The ancient Chinese classic “Liji” (Kor. 예기, Chin. 禮記, Book of Rites, Unknown) recorded that these masked exorcism rites were held three times a year, in the last month of spring, at mid-autumn and in the last month of autumn. The first one was called gungna (Kor. 국나, Chin. 國儺), the second one, cheonjana (Kor. 천자나, Chin. 天子儺), and the third one, daena (Kor. 대나, Chin. 大儺). In its early form, narye was a simple rite centered on a monster-hunter character named Fangxiangshi (Kor. 방상씨, Chin. 方相氏). Over time, however, narye gradually grew into an exorcism that combated a comprehensive array of negative influences including contagious diseases and various spirits believed to be responsible for social and personal disasters.

When narye was first introduced to Korea from China, it was performed by masked officiants in a manner conforming to the original proceedings. Later, many of its characteristics as a ritual faded away while the music and dance that accompanied the rite gained in importance. They eventually eradicated the solemn, religious aspect of the ceremony in favor of entertainment. Narye became a festive event at one point, undermining the authority and fiscal health of the royal government, leading the Joseon rulers to impose sanctions on narye. The tradition of holding a winter narye, for example, was discontinued following the ban that was issued in the 30th year of King Yeongjo’s reign (1754). Another ban was announced to prohibit narye organized for the entertainment of foreign state envoys in the 24th year of the King Jeongjo’s reign (1800).

As a national exorcism rite and a celebratory event practiced for many centuries from the early Goryeo dynasty (918-1170) to the late Joseon (17th century - 1910), the narye rite had a profound influence on Korean folk culture and entertainment customs. Most segments of the rite were performed by a masked cast, whether officiants or actors, and were similar to a masked ball. For the nahui (Kor. 나희, Chin. 儺戱) rite, which was frequently staged at major state events, performing artists who belonged to various local governments were brought to the capital. The performers took this as an opportunity to learn about the repertoires performed in the royal court and spread their knowledge to local communities when they returned to their home regions. Performing art genres from Seoul were reenacted and became incorporated into local cultures, thereby becoming part of, and influencing, the folk repertoires.

Exorcism Rite

Exorcism Rite
Headword

나례 ( 儺禮 , Narye )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Winter > 12th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer HwangKyungsook(黃京淑)

Narye (Kor. 나례, Chin. 儺禮, lit. exorcism rite) refers to the rite aimed at warding off evil spirits; the rite is performed by masked officiants. The ancient Chinese classic “Liji” (Kor. 예기, Chin. 禮記, Book of Rites, Unknown) recorded that these masked exorcism rites were held three times a year, in the last month of spring, at mid-autumn and in the last month of autumn. The first one was called gungna (Kor. 국나, Chin. 國儺), the second one, cheonjana (Kor. 천자나, Chin. 天子儺), and the third one, daena (Kor. 대나, Chin. 大儺). In its early form, narye was a simple rite centered on a monster-hunter character named Fangxiangshi (Kor. 방상씨, Chin. 方相氏). Over time, however, narye gradually grew into an exorcism that combated a comprehensive array of negative influences including contagious diseases and various spirits believed to be responsible for social and personal disasters.

When narye was first introduced to Korea from China, it was performed by masked officiants in a manner conforming to the original proceedings. Later, many of its characteristics as a ritual faded away while the music and dance that accompanied the rite gained in importance. They eventually eradicated the solemn, religious aspect of the ceremony in favor of entertainment. Narye became a festive event at one point, undermining the authority and fiscal health of the royal government, leading the Joseon rulers to impose sanctions on narye. The tradition of holding a winter narye, for example, was discontinued following the ban that was issued in the 30th year of King Yeongjo’s reign (1754). Another ban was announced to prohibit narye organized for the entertainment of foreign state envoys in the 24th year of the King Jeongjo’s reign (1800).

As a national exorcism rite and a celebratory event practiced for many centuries from the early Goryeo dynasty (918-1170) to the late Joseon (17th century - 1910), the narye rite had a profound influence on Korean folk culture and entertainment customs. Most segments of the rite were performed by a masked cast, whether officiants or actors, and were similar to a masked ball. For the nahui (Kor. 나희, Chin. 儺戱) rite, which was frequently staged at major state events, performing artists who belonged to various local governments were brought to the capital. The performers took this as an opportunity to learn about the repertoires performed in the royal court and spread their knowledge to local communities when they returned to their home regions. Performing art genres from Seoul were reenacted and became incorporated into local cultures, thereby becoming part of, and influencing, the folk repertoires.