Myth of Dangun(檀君神话)

Myth of Dangun

Headword

단군신화 ( 檀君神话 , Dangunsinhwa )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer SeoDaeseok(徐大錫)

Dangunsinhwa ”is the first sovereignty myth in Korean mythology, which tells the story of the founding of Korea’s first kingdom Gojoseon.

The myth of Dangun is recorded as follows in the section on Gojoseon in the chapter“ Gii (Records of Marvels) ”of Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms):

A long time ago, Hwanin, the God of the Heavens, noticed that his son Hwanung was nurturing interest in the human world under the heavens, and as Hwanin gazed down at the area around Mt. Taebaek, he saw it was an ideal place to found a kingdom, and sent down Hwanung to rule the land, giving him the Three Seals of Heaven (Cheonbuin). Hwanung led a group of three thousand and descended on the summit of Mt. Taebaek, where he began overseeing some three hundred and sixty affairs of the human world, including grains, life, disease, punishment, and good and evil, with the Wind God, Rainfall God and Cloud God under his command. At this time, a bear and a tiger that lived in the same cave prayed and prayed to Hwanung for their wish to become human. Hwaung gave them divine mugwort and twenty garlic bulbs, explaining, “ If you live on this and avoid sunlight for one hundred days, you shall acquire the appearance of humans. ”The bear turned into a woman after twenty-one days of observing the taboos, but the tiger failed to abide by them, thereby failing to acquire a human body. Everyday Ungnyeo (Bear Woman) prayed under Sindansu (Divine Altar Tree) to conceive a child, but there was no one for her to marry, so Hwanung turned into a man and married Ungnyeo, giving birth to a son who was given the name Dangun Wanggeom. Dangun set up a capital at Pyeongyang Fortress and named his kingdom Joseon. The capital was moved to Mt. Baekak, then Asadal, then back to Pyeongyang Fortress. One thousand and five hundred years into Dangun’s rule, China’s Zhou dynasty appointed Jizi to govern Joseon, upon which Dangun moved to Jangdanggyeong, then to Asadal, where he was deified as Sansin (Mountain God) at the age of 1, 908 years.

Another book, Jewangungi (Songs of Emperors and Kings), provides a slightly different account of Dangun’s birth, in which Hwanin’s son Danung Cheonwang descends on the summit of Mt. Taebaek, under Sindansu, where he gives a drug to his granddaughter to turn her into a human, and then arranges a marriage to Dansusin (Altar Tree God), and the son from this marriage is Dangun.

The Dangun myth can be categorized as the union of the sky father and earth mother (cheonbujimo) type, which indicates that the narrative was formed after the establishment of patriarchy on the Korean peninsula. The myth’s protagonist is Hwaung but it is referred to as“ Dangun myth, ”and Dangun, not Hwanung, is viewed as the progenitor of the Korean people, which is due to the fact that the population of Sinsi (Divine City) that Hwanung founded was ethnically different from that of Joseon, founded by Dangun. In other words, it is likely that Dangun’s Joseon was newly formed through the alliance and expansion of the population of Hwanung’s Sinsi and a bear totem tribe, represented by Ungnyeo: the former an immigrant population characterized by sun worship and farming, the latter an indigenous group characterized by bear worship and subjugated by the former. The account of Dangun becoming the mountain god of Asadal signifies that he was worshipped by later generations through religious rituals.

The Dangun myth features the Three Seals of Heaven (Cheonbuin) as tokens of rulership, generally interpreted as the divine mirror (singyeong), which represents rulership over a people and is found in the tombs of many ancient tribe chiefs on the Korean peninsula in the form of bronze mirrors; the divine sword (singeom), which is the sword of the monarch, representing military commandership; and the divine rattle (sillyeong) or the divine drum (singo), sacred props used in rituals to draw the attention of gods before reporting about human affairs.

Myth of Dangun

Myth of Dangun
Headword

단군신화 ( 檀君神话 , Dangunsinhwa )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer SeoDaeseok(徐大錫)

“Dangunsinhwa ”is the first sovereignty myth in Korean mythology, which tells the story of the founding of Korea’s first kingdom Gojoseon.

The myth of Dangun is recorded as follows in the section on Gojoseon in the chapter“ Gii (Records of Marvels) ”of Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms):

A long time ago, Hwanin, the God of the Heavens, noticed that his son Hwanung was nurturing interest in the human world under the heavens, and as Hwanin gazed down at the area around Mt. Taebaek, he saw it was an ideal place to found a kingdom, and sent down Hwanung to rule the land, giving him the Three Seals of Heaven (Cheonbuin). Hwanung led a group of three thousand and descended on the summit of Mt. Taebaek, where he began overseeing some three hundred and sixty affairs of the human world, including grains, life, disease, punishment, and good and evil, with the Wind God, Rainfall God and Cloud God under his command. At this time, a bear and a tiger that lived in the same cave prayed and prayed to Hwanung for their wish to become human. Hwaung gave them divine mugwort and twenty garlic bulbs, explaining, “ If you live on this and avoid sunlight for one hundred days, you shall acquire the appearance of humans. ”The bear turned into a woman after twenty-one days of observing the taboos, but the tiger failed to abide by them, thereby failing to acquire a human body. Everyday Ungnyeo (Bear Woman) prayed under Sindansu (Divine Altar Tree) to conceive a child, but there was no one for her to marry, so Hwanung turned into a man and married Ungnyeo, giving birth to a son who was given the name Dangun Wanggeom. Dangun set up a capital at Pyeongyang Fortress and named his kingdom Joseon. The capital was moved to Mt. Baekak, then Asadal, then back to Pyeongyang Fortress. One thousand and five hundred years into Dangun’s rule, China’s Zhou dynasty appointed Jizi to govern Joseon, upon which Dangun moved to Jangdanggyeong, then to Asadal, where he was deified as Sansin (Mountain God) at the age of 1, 908 years.

Another book, Jewangungi (Songs of Emperors and Kings), provides a slightly different account of Dangun’s birth, in which Hwanin’s son Danung Cheonwang descends on the summit of Mt. Taebaek, under Sindansu, where he gives a drug to his granddaughter to turn her into a human, and then arranges a marriage to Dansusin (Altar Tree God), and the son from this marriage is Dangun.

The Dangun myth can be categorized as the union of the sky father and earth mother (cheonbujimo) type, which indicates that the narrative was formed after the establishment of patriarchy on the Korean peninsula. The myth’s protagonist is Hwaung but it is referred to as“ Dangun myth, ”and Dangun, not Hwanung, is viewed as the progenitor of the Korean people, which is due to the fact that the population of Sinsi (Divine City) that Hwanung founded was ethnically different from that of Joseon, founded by Dangun. In other words, it is likely that Dangun’s Joseon was newly formed through the alliance and expansion of the population of Hwanung’s Sinsi and a bear totem tribe, represented by Ungnyeo: the former an immigrant population characterized by sun worship and farming, the latter an indigenous group characterized by bear worship and subjugated by the former. The account of Dangun becoming the mountain god of Asadal signifies that he was worshipped by later generations through religious rituals.

The Dangun myth features the Three Seals of Heaven (Cheonbuin) as tokens of rulership, generally interpreted as the divine mirror (singyeong), which represents rulership over a people and is found in the tombs of many ancient tribe chiefs on the Korean peninsula in the form of bronze mirrors; the divine sword (singeom), which is the sword of the monarch, representing military commandership; and the divine rattle (sillyeong) or the divine drum (singo), sacred props used in rituals to draw the attention of gods before reporting about human affairs.