Myth of Maiden Danggeum(棠锦千金)

Myth of Maiden Danggeum

Headword

당금애기 ( 棠锦千金 , Danggeumaegi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer SeoDaeseok(徐大錫)

The shamanic myth“ Danggeumaegi ”narrates the origins of Jeseok, the god that oversees farming and productivity, which is transmitted in all parts of the Korean peninsula.

The following is a summary of the Myth of Maiden Danggeum based on the version from the northern regions, considered to best preserve the mythological characteristics of the narrative:

A long time ago, in a certain place there was a noble family with nine sons but no daughter, so the family offers prayers asking for a daughter, and a daughter is born and given the name Danggeumaegi, or Baby Danggeum. She grows into a beautiful maiden and one day her parents and older brothers have to go away to attend to something, leaving her home alone. At this time a monk who received training in Buddhist doctrines in the west comes to visit Danggeum and lures her into making contact as a form of donation, impregnating Danggeum. The family returns to find Danggeum pregnant with the monk’s seed, and locks her up in a cardboard box, or in some versions, banishes her from the home. After ten months inside the box, Danggeum gives birth to triplet boys. When they turn seven, the boys attend the village schoolhouse, where they are teased and taunted for being fatherless. The boys ask Danggeum who and where their father is, and they set out together with their mother to Seocheonguk (Heavenly Kingdom of the West), where they arrive at a temple. Upon their visit, the monk carries out various paternity tests, which include swimming in clear water wearing paper garments; building sand castles big enough for them to walk in and out of; creating sound from straw drums and straw roosters. Lastly, the monk makes a cut in his finger and when he sees that his blood joins as one with that of the three boys, he confirms that they are indeed his sons. The monk appoints the three sons to divine positions, after which he and Dangguem ascend to the heavens and the triplets are deified as Jeseok.

There are currently over sixty versions of the Maiden Danggeum myth, each greatly varying in detail. Variations of the heroine’s name include Seojangaegi (northwest regions); Sejuaegi (northeast regions); Danggeumaegi (middle regions); Jeseongnimne Ttanimaegi, or Baby Daughter of Jeseok Household (southeast regions); Jajimyeongagi (Jeju). Versions of the monk’s name include Jujaemunjang of Hwangeumsan, or Golden Mountain (Ganggye); Seoinnim, or Sir West (Hamheung, Pyeongyang); Jangseokgayeorae, which is close to Sakyamuni (Yangpyeong); Seokgayeoraesijunnim, a combination of Sakyamuni and the shamanic deity Sijun (Gangneung, Yeongdeok); Jungsang of Golden Mountain (Suwon, Osan); Hwanggeumdaesa, or Great Golden Monk (Cheongju); Hwangejung of Golden Mountain (Jindo, Yeongdong); and Jujaeseonsaeng of Golden Mountain (Jeju).

Details involving the heroine’s impregnation, her trials, and the boys ’encounter with the monk also vary significantly from region to region. In versions from regions northeast of Namhan River, the monk comes to the heroine’s house to request a donation and spends the night, during which the daughter dreams of receiving three marbles, resulting in the conception; while in versions from the peninsula’s southwest regions, as the monk leaves with a donation of rice, he gives the daughter three rice grains to eat, or holds her wrist, or touches her hair, which results in impregnation. As for the trials that ensue her impregnation, in versions from the northeast, the daughter is locked up inside a cave, where she gives birth and raises the children, then sets out in search of the monk at the children’s request; while in versions from the southwest, the parents banish her immediately and the pregnant daughter sets out to find the monk. The monk also reacts differently according to different versions: In versions from the northeast, he carries out various tests to prove that the triplets are his sons and when they pass, gives them names and positions; while in versions from the southwest, upon reencountering the pregnant daughter, he leaves priesthood and prepares for a secular life with her. In versions from Jeju Island, the triplets fail the state civil servant examination due to their status as the offspring of a Buddhist monk, and when the brothers, angry at the result, destroy the peal motif-engraved bell tower, the king’s court arrest the heroine and order the triplets to repair the bell tower, after which their mother is released and the triplets are deified and worshipped through shamanic rituals.

This shamanic myth of a monk and a maiden coming together to give birth to triplet boys is the narrative of the origins of the deity Jeseok, which in Korean folk religion oversees farming and productivity. Conception and birth are rendered as divine acts in narrating as a story the functions of the god of productivity to pray for fertility and prosperity. The characterization of the male protagonist as a monk is related to the introduction of Buddhism. In the various versions, the monk descends from or ascends to the heavens, or displays supernatural traits like Taoist magic, which are traits shared by sun god characters in Korean mythology like Haemosu, but were replaced by those of a monk following the import of Buddhism. The heroine’s character reflects the traits of a goddess that oversees a region, as shown in the name Danggeum, its etymological origins traced back to the word dangam, from Goguryeo, meaning“ grain god ” or“ village god. ”This interpretation of the myth establishes a connection with ancient founding myths of Dangun or Jumong, which involve a male from the celestial world and a goddess of the terrestrial world coming together to conceiving and giving birth to a new deity.

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Myth of Maiden Danggeum

Myth of Maiden Danggeum
Headword

당금애기 ( 棠锦千金 , Danggeumaegi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer SeoDaeseok(徐大錫)

The shamanic myth“ Danggeumaegi ”narrates the origins of Jeseok, the god that oversees farming and productivity, which is transmitted in all parts of the Korean peninsula.

The following is a summary of the Myth of Maiden Danggeum based on the version from the northern regions, considered to best preserve the mythological characteristics of the narrative:

A long time ago, in a certain place there was a noble family with nine sons but no daughter, so the family offers prayers asking for a daughter, and a daughter is born and given the name Danggeumaegi, or Baby Danggeum. She grows into a beautiful maiden and one day her parents and older brothers have to go away to attend to something, leaving her home alone. At this time a monk who received training in Buddhist doctrines in the west comes to visit Danggeum and lures her into making contact as a form of donation, impregnating Danggeum. The family returns to find Danggeum pregnant with the monk’s seed, and locks her up in a cardboard box, or in some versions, banishes her from the home. After ten months inside the box, Danggeum gives birth to triplet boys. When they turn seven, the boys attend the village schoolhouse, where they are teased and taunted for being fatherless. The boys ask Danggeum who and where their father is, and they set out together with their mother to Seocheonguk (Heavenly Kingdom of the West), where they arrive at a temple. Upon their visit, the monk carries out various paternity tests, which include swimming in clear water wearing paper garments; building sand castles big enough for them to walk in and out of; creating sound from straw drums and straw roosters. Lastly, the monk makes a cut in his finger and when he sees that his blood joins as one with that of the three boys, he confirms that they are indeed his sons. The monk appoints the three sons to divine positions, after which he and Dangguem ascend to the heavens and the triplets are deified as Jeseok.

There are currently over sixty versions of the Maiden Danggeum myth, each greatly varying in detail. Variations of the heroine’s name include Seojangaegi (northwest regions); Sejuaegi (northeast regions); Danggeumaegi (middle regions); Jeseongnimne Ttanimaegi, or Baby Daughter of Jeseok Household (southeast regions); Jajimyeongagi (Jeju). Versions of the monk’s name include Jujaemunjang of Hwangeumsan, or Golden Mountain (Ganggye); Seoinnim, or Sir West (Hamheung, Pyeongyang); Jangseokgayeorae, which is close to Sakyamuni (Yangpyeong); Seokgayeoraesijunnim, a combination of Sakyamuni and the shamanic deity Sijun (Gangneung, Yeongdeok); Jungsang of Golden Mountain (Suwon, Osan); Hwanggeumdaesa, or Great Golden Monk (Cheongju); Hwangejung of Golden Mountain (Jindo, Yeongdong); and Jujaeseonsaeng of Golden Mountain (Jeju).

Details involving the heroine’s impregnation, her trials, and the boys ’encounter with the monk also vary significantly from region to region. In versions from regions northeast of Namhan River, the monk comes to the heroine’s house to request a donation and spends the night, during which the daughter dreams of receiving three marbles, resulting in the conception; while in versions from the peninsula’s southwest regions, as the monk leaves with a donation of rice, he gives the daughter three rice grains to eat, or holds her wrist, or touches her hair, which results in impregnation. As for the trials that ensue her impregnation, in versions from the northeast, the daughter is locked up inside a cave, where she gives birth and raises the children, then sets out in search of the monk at the children’s request; while in versions from the southwest, the parents banish her immediately and the pregnant daughter sets out to find the monk. The monk also reacts differently according to different versions: In versions from the northeast, he carries out various tests to prove that the triplets are his sons and when they pass, gives them names and positions; while in versions from the southwest, upon reencountering the pregnant daughter, he leaves priesthood and prepares for a secular life with her. In versions from Jeju Island, the triplets fail the state civil servant examination due to their status as the offspring of a Buddhist monk, and when the brothers, angry at the result, destroy the peal motif-engraved bell tower, the king’s court arrest the heroine and order the triplets to repair the bell tower, after which their mother is released and the triplets are deified and worshipped through shamanic rituals.

This shamanic myth of a monk and a maiden coming together to give birth to triplet boys is the narrative of the origins of the deity Jeseok, which in Korean folk religion oversees farming and productivity. Conception and birth are rendered as divine acts in narrating as a story the functions of the god of productivity to pray for fertility and prosperity. The characterization of the male protagonist as a monk is related to the introduction of Buddhism. In the various versions, the monk descends from or ascends to the heavens, or displays supernatural traits like Taoist magic, which are traits shared by sun god characters in Korean mythology like Haemosu, but were replaced by those of a monk following the import of Buddhism. The heroine’s character reflects the traits of a goddess that oversees a region, as shown in the name Danggeum, its etymological origins traced back to the word dangam, from Goguryeo, meaning“ grain god ” or“ village god. ”This interpretation of the myth establishes a connection with ancient founding myths of Dangun or Jumong, which involve a male from the celestial world and a goddess of the terrestrial world coming together to conceiving and giving birth to a new deity.