Monk Manseok Shadowplay(万石僧戏)

Headword

만석중놀이 ( 万石僧戏 , Manseokjung Nori )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Summer > 4th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer PyeonMooyoung(片茂永)

Manseokjung nori (Kor. 만석중놀이, lit. monk Manseok play) refers to one type of the shadow-plays performed on Shakyamuni’s Birthday on the eighth of the fourth lunar month. It is known by alternative homonymic names that differ from each other only by the Sino-Korean character used to confer the sound for the syllable “man/mang.” Some examples of such names include manseok nori (만석(萬石)중놀이), mangseok nori (망석(忘釋)중놀이), mangseokjung nori (망석(亡釋)중놀이), manseok suengmu (만석승무(曼碩僧舞)) and mangseokjungi nori (망석중이놀이).

In this silent play, shadows of puppets are cast against a screen made of a white piece of fabric, using a torch as the light source. Manseokjung nori is believed to have stemmed from or to have been closely related to yeongdeung nori (Kor. 영등놀이, Chin. 影燈戱), a shadow show performed on Shakyamuni’s Birthday in which the shadows were cast against a paper lantern.

In a manseokjung nori, the character of Monk Manseok, a wooden puppet, stands at the center of the stage. He frolics with two different species of deer (sika deer and roe deer) to his right side while a dragon and a carp on the left appear to want to take possession of a lantern as if it were a cintamani, the wish-fulfilling jewel in Buddhism. When the dragon and the carp vanish from the stage, the monk starts a cymbal-accompanied dance and, when he reaches enlightenment through this dance, the curtain falls.

In the Gaeseong area, this shadow-play is said to have been performed until the 1920s in the temples or nearby villages as a means to spread Buddhism. However, the dramatic content of the play and the composition of the actors and audience reveal the characteristics of folk entertainment as well. In the early 20th century, the tradition of staging these performances became weaker as a result of Japanese colonial policy. Colonial authorities essentially banned manseokjung nori, replacing it with children’s choir performances, dance or athletic events, musical concerts, lantern processions, or public lectures.

Monk Manseok Shadowplay

Monk Manseok Shadowplay
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Summer > 4th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer PyeonMooyoung(片茂永)

Manseokjung nori (Kor. 만석중놀이, lit. monk Manseok play) refers to one type of the shadow-plays performed on Shakyamuni’s Birthday on the eighth of the fourth lunar month. It is known by alternative homonymic names that differ from each other only by the Sino-Korean character used to confer the sound for the syllable “man/mang.” Some examples of such names include manseok nori (만석(萬石)중놀이), mangseok nori (망석(忘釋)중놀이), mangseokjung nori (망석(亡釋)중놀이), manseok suengmu (만석승무(曼碩僧舞)) and mangseokjungi nori (망석중이놀이).

In this silent play, shadows of puppets are cast against a screen made of a white piece of fabric, using a torch as the light source. Manseokjung nori is believed to have stemmed from or to have been closely related to yeongdeung nori (Kor. 영등놀이, Chin. 影燈戱), a shadow show performed on Shakyamuni’s Birthday in which the shadows were cast against a paper lantern.

In a manseokjung nori, the character of Monk Manseok, a wooden puppet, stands at the center of the stage. He frolics with two different species of deer (sika deer and roe deer) to his right side while a dragon and a carp on the left appear to want to take possession of a lantern as if it were a cintamani, the wish-fulfilling jewel in Buddhism. When the dragon and the carp vanish from the stage, the monk starts a cymbal-accompanied dance and, when he reaches enlightenment through this dance, the curtain falls.

In the Gaeseong area, this shadow-play is said to have been performed until the 1920s in the temples or nearby villages as a means to spread Buddhism. However, the dramatic content of the play and the composition of the actors and audience reveal the characteristics of folk entertainment as well. In the early 20th century, the tradition of staging these performances became weaker as a result of Japanese colonial policy. Colonial authorities essentially banned manseokjung nori, replacing it with children’s choir performances, dance or athletic events, musical concerts, lantern processions, or public lectures.