Dragon’s Plowing(龍耕)

Dragon’s Plowing

Headword

용경 ( 龍耕 , Yonggyeong )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Winter > 11th Lunar month > Seasonal Terms

Writer KimDohyun(金道賢)

Yonggyeong (Kor. 용경, Chin. 龍耕, lit. dragon’s plowing) is a custom observed on Dongji (Kor. 동지, Chin. 冬至, Winter Solstice) in which people tried to predict the outcome of farming for the upcoming year based on the direction and angle of cracks on the surface of a frozen pond. The custom is also known as yonggari (Kor. 용갈이) or yong-ui batgari (Kor. 용의 밭갈이), both meaning ‘plowing by the dragon.’ When ice covers a pond, there is often a crack that divides the ice sheet into two halves, as though a field were divided along a furrow left after plowing. This phenomenon was considered a trail left by a dragon and, therefore, interpreted as having divinatory power concerning farming success in the year ahead.

Predicting farming outcomes based on the disposition of ice sheets was practiced widely and not necessarily associated with yonggyeong. In Hamgyeong Province, for example, there was a custom called gyeolbingbok (Kor. 결빙복, Chin. 結氷卜, lit. ice fortune-telling), in which people observed the surface of a lake named Jangyeon (located near the Yongpyeong Train Station). If the lake froze before Dongji, it signified a good harvest, but if the lake froze after Dongji, it was taken as a bad omen. According to another custom referred to as dongbok (Kor. 동복, Chin. 凍卜, lit. ice fortune-telling), on the eve of the year’s first full moon (the fourteenth of the first lunar month), people left two bowls of fresh water out overnight and positioned them north and south of each other. The next morning, they examined the ice sheet that appeared in the bowls and tried to predict the success of farming in the northern and southern regions. Other divinatory practices related to ice include haebingjeom (Kor. 해빙점, Chin. 解氷占, lit. fortune-telling on freeing from the ice), in which an early spring thaw was considered a sign of bad crop yields, and hudongjeom (Kor. 후동점, Chin. 厚凍占, lit. ice thickness fortune-telling), in which a thick layer of ice in lakes was believed to predict a great harvest the following fall. In Hamgyeong Province, there is a practice called doromyeonjeom (Kor. 도로면점, Chin. 道路面占, lit. fortune-telling on road sides), in which cracks on the ice sheets covering a road are seen as predictors of a poor harvest or flood if they run parallel to the road, and are thought to signify an abundant harvest if they run perpendicular. Such customs reflect centuries of observation of the relationship between water and climate.

Dragon’s Plowing

Dragon’s Plowing
Headword

용경 ( 龍耕 , Yonggyeong )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Winter > 11th Lunar month > Seasonal Terms

Writer KimDohyun(金道賢)

Yonggyeong (Kor. 용경, Chin. 龍耕, lit. dragon’s plowing) is a custom observed on Dongji (Kor. 동지, Chin. 冬至, Winter Solstice) in which people tried to predict the outcome of farming for the upcoming year based on the direction and angle of cracks on the surface of a frozen pond. The custom is also known as yonggari (Kor. 용갈이) or yong-ui batgari (Kor. 용의 밭갈이), both meaning ‘plowing by the dragon.’ When ice covers a pond, there is often a crack that divides the ice sheet into two halves, as though a field were divided along a furrow left after plowing. This phenomenon was considered a trail left by a dragon and, therefore, interpreted as having divinatory power concerning farming success in the year ahead.

Predicting farming outcomes based on the disposition of ice sheets was practiced widely and not necessarily associated with yonggyeong. In Hamgyeong Province, for example, there was a custom called gyeolbingbok (Kor. 결빙복, Chin. 結氷卜, lit. ice fortune-telling), in which people observed the surface of a lake named Jangyeon (located near the Yongpyeong Train Station). If the lake froze before Dongji, it signified a good harvest, but if the lake froze after Dongji, it was taken as a bad omen. According to another custom referred to as dongbok (Kor. 동복, Chin. 凍卜, lit. ice fortune-telling), on the eve of the year’s first full moon (the fourteenth of the first lunar month), people left two bowls of fresh water out overnight and positioned them north and south of each other. The next morning, they examined the ice sheet that appeared in the bowls and tried to predict the success of farming in the northern and southern regions. Other divinatory practices related to ice include haebingjeom (Kor. 해빙점, Chin. 解氷占, lit. fortune-telling on freeing from the ice), in which an early spring thaw was considered a sign of bad crop yields, and hudongjeom (Kor. 후동점, Chin. 厚凍占, lit. ice thickness fortune-telling), in which a thick layer of ice in lakes was believed to predict a great harvest the following fall. In Hamgyeong Province, there is a practice called doromyeonjeom (Kor. 도로면점, Chin. 道路面占, lit. fortune-telling on road sides), in which cracks on the ice sheets covering a road are seen as predictors of a poor harvest or flood if they run parallel to the road, and are thought to signify an abundant harvest if they run perpendicular. Such customs reflect centuries of observation of the relationship between water and climate.