Dreams believed to foretell the conception or birth of a child(胎夢)

Headword

태몽 ( 胎夢 )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Rites of Passage > Korean Rites of Passage > Chulsaenguirye

Writer HanYangmyung(韓陽明)

Dreams believed to foretell the conception, gender, and destiny of a child.

From ancient times, people considered dreams of particular symbols as a sign of conception, and through interpretation of the symbols, they foretold the gender and destiny of the child. The dreamer of such a birth dream, or taemong, was mostly the mother of the woman who would conceive a child, but could also be her husband, grandparents on her father’s side or on her mother’s side, other relatives, or neighbors. The periods when they had taemong were many and varied, including before one became aware of pregnancy, during pregnancy, and after childbirth.

Also, various symbols appeared in taemong, and people foretold the gender and destiny of the child by interpreting the symbols in many ways.

They interpreted such symbols in the dreams by comparing their similarities to male or female genitals as follows: if symbols similar to male genital, such as peppers, dragons, serpents, earthworms, turnips, and cucumbers appeared in a dream, they were considered the sign of a son. If symbols similar to female genital, such as chestnut burrs, clams, rings, and dried persimmons, appeared in a dream, they were considered the sign of a daughter. Also, tall and strong living things or objects used by men were believed to stand for a son, while charming and pretty living things or objects used by women stood for a daughter.

The same symbols were interpreted differently according to their color. For example, things red or yellow, including red peppers, ripe persimmons, yellow pumpkins, golden rings, golden binyeo (Kor. 비녀, ornamental hair rod), symbolized a son, while things blue or white, including young green peppers, zucchinis, silver rings, silver ornamental hair rods, and rice, represented a daughter.

Taemong does not simply mean the appearance of symbols in a dream but the formation of a relationship between the dreamer and symbols, or the symbols taking certain action. For example, a tiger brings a nugget of gold in its mouth in a dream; the dreamer snatches a bead from the paws of a fox; or the dreamer catches a carp on whose belly the Chinese character for “king” (王) is engraved. Also, dreams that are considered taemong include those where the dreamer is driven or bitten by a pig, fish, bull, horse, snake, tiger, or dragon; a dream in which the dreamer is surprised to see a serpent coil around himself or herself; a dream in which the dreamer is frightened at a roaring thunder or a ringing bell; and a dream in which the dreamer is surprised to fall while trying to pick a persimmon.

In some cases, two symbols or more appear in taemong: a certain object turns into an animal, for example, from a tree to a pig or from a cucumber to a loach; or an animal transforms into another animal, from a dog to a cat or from a snakehead or bird to a goldfish. In other cases, taemong comprises sexual behavior such as lying with or caressing a stranger. In addition, the dream of a bull and a cow having sex was considered taemong.

Meanwhile, the actions of the dreamer and the symbols provided criteria for judging the yet unborn child’s destiny. For instance, choking or throwing away a rushing-in serpent or dragon was deemed unfortunate for the fate of the child. Catching and binding a chicken or seeing a fish in a dried spot was also considered a bad taemong for the child.

Various interpretations of taemong exist as a result of the family’s wishes to predict the gender and future of the fetus which are in an unknown realm. In particular, the fact that sansok (Kor. 산속, Chin. 産俗, customs regarding pregnancy and childbirth) remain in the realm of informal rituals seems to have become one of the factors for such interpretations. Because pregnancy and childbirth had to be undertaken in person by a woman and were secret in nature, it was difficult to include them in the realm of male-centered Confucian rituals. As a result, sansok had certain autonomy as the realm of rituals led by women. Against this background, interpretations of taemong that foretold pregnancy, the gender of the fetus, and the baby’s future could be passed on, preserving their diversity without being confined to a framework.

Dreams believed to foretell the conception or birth of a child

Dreams believed to foretell the conception or birth of a child
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Rites of Passage > Korean Rites of Passage > Chulsaenguirye

Writer HanYangmyung(韓陽明)

Dreams believed to foretell the conception, gender, and destiny of a child.

From ancient times, people considered dreams of particular symbols as a sign of conception, and through interpretation of the symbols, they foretold the gender and destiny of the child. The dreamer of such a birth dream, or taemong, was mostly the mother of the woman who would conceive a child, but could also be her husband, grandparents on her father’s side or on her mother’s side, other relatives, or neighbors. The periods when they had taemong were many and varied, including before one became aware of pregnancy, during pregnancy, and after childbirth.

Also, various symbols appeared in taemong, and people foretold the gender and destiny of the child by interpreting the symbols in many ways.

They interpreted such symbols in the dreams by comparing their similarities to male or female genitals as follows: if symbols similar to male genital, such as peppers, dragons, serpents, earthworms, turnips, and cucumbers appeared in a dream, they were considered the sign of a son. If symbols similar to female genital, such as chestnut burrs, clams, rings, and dried persimmons, appeared in a dream, they were considered the sign of a daughter. Also, tall and strong living things or objects used by men were believed to stand for a son, while charming and pretty living things or objects used by women stood for a daughter.

The same symbols were interpreted differently according to their color. For example, things red or yellow, including red peppers, ripe persimmons, yellow pumpkins, golden rings, golden binyeo (Kor. 비녀, ornamental hair rod), symbolized a son, while things blue or white, including young green peppers, zucchinis, silver rings, silver ornamental hair rods, and rice, represented a daughter.

Taemong does not simply mean the appearance of symbols in a dream but the formation of a relationship between the dreamer and symbols, or the symbols taking certain action. For example, a tiger brings a nugget of gold in its mouth in a dream; the dreamer snatches a bead from the paws of a fox; or the dreamer catches a carp on whose belly the Chinese character for “king” (王) is engraved. Also, dreams that are considered taemong include those where the dreamer is driven or bitten by a pig, fish, bull, horse, snake, tiger, or dragon; a dream in which the dreamer is surprised to see a serpent coil around himself or herself; a dream in which the dreamer is frightened at a roaring thunder or a ringing bell; and a dream in which the dreamer is surprised to fall while trying to pick a persimmon.

In some cases, two symbols or more appear in taemong: a certain object turns into an animal, for example, from a tree to a pig or from a cucumber to a loach; or an animal transforms into another animal, from a dog to a cat or from a snakehead or bird to a goldfish. In other cases, taemong comprises sexual behavior such as lying with or caressing a stranger. In addition, the dream of a bull and a cow having sex was considered taemong.

Meanwhile, the actions of the dreamer and the symbols provided criteria for judging the yet unborn child’s destiny. For instance, choking or throwing away a rushing-in serpent or dragon was deemed unfortunate for the fate of the child. Catching and binding a chicken or seeing a fish in a dried spot was also considered a bad taemong for the child.

Various interpretations of taemong exist as a result of the family’s wishes to predict the gender and future of the fetus which are in an unknown realm. In particular, the fact that sansok (Kor. 산속, Chin. 産俗, customs regarding pregnancy and childbirth) remain in the realm of informal rituals seems to have become one of the factors for such interpretations. Because pregnancy and childbirth had to be undertaken in person by a woman and were secret in nature, it was difficult to include them in the realm of male-centered Confucian rituals. As a result, sansok had certain autonomy as the realm of rituals led by women. Against this background, interpretations of taemong that foretold pregnancy, the gender of the fetus, and the baby’s future could be passed on, preserving their diversity without being confined to a framework.