Expelling the Nocturnal Ghosts(夜光鬼-)

Expelling the Nocturnal Ghosts

Headword

야광귀쫓기 ( 夜光鬼- , Yagwanggwi Jjotgi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > January > 1st Lunarmonth > Seasonal Holidays

Writer KimJongdae(金宗大)

Yagwanggi jjotgi (Kor. 야광귀쫓기, Chin. 夜光鬼-쫓기, lit. expelling the glowing nocturnal ghosts) was a Korean custom performed on the New Year’s night when the yagwanggwi (glowing nocturnal ghosts) descended to the human world. In order to prevent these spirits from entering the house, Koreans hung a sieve on the wall, burned their hair, and sprinkled its ashes over the yard. These mischievous spirits are also referred to as yayugwang (Kor. 야유광, Chin. 夜遊狂, lit. mad night stroller), yagwangsin (Kor. 야광신, Chin. 夜光神, lit. glowing nocturnal spirit) and anggwangi (Kor. 앙광이, luminous spirit).

A record in the “Dongguk Sesigi” (Kor. 동국세시기, Chin. 東國歲時記, A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea, 1849) reads: "A ghost whose name is Yagwang comes down to a town on the eve of New Year’s, tries on every pair of children’s shoes, and then slips away with the pair that fits its feet. It is believed that the victim of theft will not receive any luck for the entire year. This is the reason why children hide their shoes before they go to sleep on the New Year’s Night. In addition, people hang a sieve on the wall of their living room or at the entrance to the courtyard, so that the spirit is drawn to counting the holes of the sieve until the early morning instead of stealing their shoes. There is not much known about this ghost, however. Some say its name may have come from Yagwang (Kor. 약왕, Chin. 藥王, lit. Medicine King) - the Buddhist divinity, which terrified children with its hideous looks”.

The custom of burning hair and sprinkling its ashes in the yard on the eve of the New Year’s in an effort to expel the nocturnal ghosts is recorded in the “Sesi Pungyo” (Kor. 세시풍요, Chin. 歲時風謠, Songs of Seasonal Folk Customs, 1843).

The “Haedong Jukji” (Kor. 해동죽지, Chin. 海東竹枝, Bamboo Branches in Korea, 1925) introduced the ghost’s other names, such as yagwangsin and anggwangi, and noted that they appeared not only on the night of New Year, but also on the night of the first full moon.

The mischievous ghosts are able to steal shoes during the Lunar New Year celebrations, because people are distracted by the all-night preparations on the New Year’s Eve and the New Year greeting ceremonies on the first day of the year.

Japanese folklorist Murayama Chijun (村山智順, 1891-1968) suggested that the nocturnal spirits count the number of sieve holes because they regard them as the eyes of a powerful spiritual being. Based on the number of eyes, the spirits can judge how strong their opponent is. Thus, a sieve with seemingly numerous eyes is able to prevent the spirits from entering the house. Murayama connected his explanation to bangsangssi (Kor. 방상씨, Chin, 方相氏), a spiritual being with four eyes, whose main role is to expel evil forces.

Expelling the Nocturnal Ghosts

Expelling the Nocturnal Ghosts
Headword

야광귀쫓기 ( 夜光鬼- , Yagwanggwi Jjotgi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > January > 1st Lunarmonth > Seasonal Holidays

Writer KimJongdae(金宗大)

Yagwanggi jjotgi (Kor. 야광귀쫓기, Chin. 夜光鬼-쫓기, lit. expelling the glowing nocturnal ghosts) was a Korean custom performed on the New Year’s night when the yagwanggwi (glowing nocturnal ghosts) descended to the human world. In order to prevent these spirits from entering the house, Koreans hung a sieve on the wall, burned their hair, and sprinkled its ashes over the yard. These mischievous spirits are also referred to as yayugwang (Kor. 야유광, Chin. 夜遊狂, lit. mad night stroller), yagwangsin (Kor. 야광신, Chin. 夜光神, lit. glowing nocturnal spirit) and anggwangi (Kor. 앙광이, luminous spirit).

A record in the “Dongguk Sesigi” (Kor. 동국세시기, Chin. 東國歲時記, A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea, 1849) reads: "A ghost whose name is Yagwang comes down to a town on the eve of New Year’s, tries on every pair of children’s shoes, and then slips away with the pair that fits its feet. It is believed that the victim of theft will not receive any luck for the entire year. This is the reason why children hide their shoes before they go to sleep on the New Year’s Night. In addition, people hang a sieve on the wall of their living room or at the entrance to the courtyard, so that the spirit is drawn to counting the holes of the sieve until the early morning instead of stealing their shoes. There is not much known about this ghost, however. Some say its name may have come from Yagwang (Kor. 약왕, Chin. 藥王, lit. Medicine King) - the Buddhist divinity, which terrified children with its hideous looks”.

The custom of burning hair and sprinkling its ashes in the yard on the eve of the New Year’s in an effort to expel the nocturnal ghosts is recorded in the “Sesi Pungyo” (Kor. 세시풍요, Chin. 歲時風謠, Songs of Seasonal Folk Customs, 1843).

The “Haedong Jukji” (Kor. 해동죽지, Chin. 海東竹枝, Bamboo Branches in Korea, 1925) introduced the ghost’s other names, such as yagwangsin and anggwangi, and noted that they appeared not only on the night of New Year, but also on the night of the first full moon.

The mischievous ghosts are able to steal shoes during the Lunar New Year celebrations, because people are distracted by the all-night preparations on the New Year’s Eve and the New Year greeting ceremonies on the first day of the year.

Japanese folklorist Murayama Chijun (村山智順, 1891-1968) suggested that the nocturnal spirits count the number of sieve holes because they regard them as the eyes of a powerful spiritual being. Based on the number of eyes, the spirits can judge how strong their opponent is. Thus, a sieve with seemingly numerous eyes is able to prevent the spirits from entering the house. Murayama connected his explanation to bangsangssi (Kor. 방상씨, Chin, 方相氏), a spiritual being with four eyes, whose main role is to expel evil forces.