Sericultural Rite(先蠶祭)

Sericultural Rite

Headword

선잠제 ( 先蠶祭 , Seonjamje )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Spring > 3rd Lunar month > Rites

Writer HanHyungju(韓亨周)

Seonjamje (Kor. 선잠제, Chin. 先蠶祭, sericultural rite) was a rite to pay homage to Silingshi (Kor. 서릉씨 (Seoreungssi), Chin. 西陵氏), a mythical ancient Chinese figure, believed to have brought the art of rearing silkworms to early humans. It consisted of a worship service and a demonstration by the queen of how to harvest mulberry leaves; these leaves are the main sustenance of silkworms. The ritual was held on an auspicious Day of the Snake during the third lunar month. The symbolic context of seonjamje should be understood in relation with seonnongje (Kor. 선농제, Chin. 先農祭, agricultural rite). In seonnongje the king presided over a worship service held at Seonnongdan (Kor. 선농단, Chin. 先農壇, altar for agricultural rites), then went to the royal farmland jeokjon (Kor. 적전, Chin. 籍田) to demonstrate personally the tilling of the soil and the growing of crops that were used for ritual offerings. In parallel, during seonjamje, the queen held a worship service at Seonjamdan (Kor. 선잠단, Chin. 先蠶壇, altar for sericultural rites) and demonstrated how to rear silkworms and made ritual clothes to promote silk growing and weaving.

The royal government encouraged the production of silk fabric with the dual purpose of making clothes and currency. Sericulture increased the crown’s treasury revenues and benefited the overall economy of the kingdom. Indeed, silkworm growing was an important and easily available source of extra income for farming households. Seonjamje is also noteworthy insofar as this was the only national rite of Joseon (1392-1910) that was presided over by a woman and not by the king or the male attendants of the court.

Sericultural Rite

Sericultural Rite
Headword

선잠제 ( 先蠶祭 , Seonjamje )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Spring > 3rd Lunar month > Rites

Writer HanHyungju(韓亨周)

Seonjamje (Kor. 선잠제, Chin. 先蠶祭, sericultural rite) was a rite to pay homage to Silingshi (Kor. 서릉씨 (Seoreungssi), Chin. 西陵氏), a mythical ancient Chinese figure, believed to have brought the art of rearing silkworms to early humans. It consisted of a worship service and a demonstration by the queen of how to harvest mulberry leaves; these leaves are the main sustenance of silkworms. The ritual was held on an auspicious Day of the Snake during the third lunar month. The symbolic context of seonjamje should be understood in relation with seonnongje (Kor. 선농제, Chin. 先農祭, agricultural rite). In seonnongje the king presided over a worship service held at Seonnongdan (Kor. 선농단, Chin. 先農壇, altar for agricultural rites), then went to the royal farmland jeokjon (Kor. 적전, Chin. 籍田) to demonstrate personally the tilling of the soil and the growing of crops that were used for ritual offerings. In parallel, during seonjamje, the queen held a worship service at Seonjamdan (Kor. 선잠단, Chin. 先蠶壇, altar for sericultural rites) and demonstrated how to rear silkworms and made ritual clothes to promote silk growing and weaving.

The royal government encouraged the production of silk fabric with the dual purpose of making clothes and currency. Sericulture increased the crown’s treasury revenues and benefited the overall economy of the kingdom. Indeed, silkworm growing was an important and easily available source of extra income for farming households. Seonjamje is also noteworthy insofar as this was the only national rite of Joseon (1392-1910) that was presided over by a woman and not by the king or the male attendants of the court.