Grandmother Seolmundae(雪门黛婆婆)

Grandmother Seolmundae

Headword

설문대할망 ( 雪门黛婆婆 , Seolmun- daehalmang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer MoonMoobyung(文武秉)

This oral myth from Jeju Island is about a goddess of immense size and strength named Seolmundaehalmang, who created the island by shoveling mud from the seabed. Some ancient records refer to this goddess as Samandugo or Seonmago, and oral variants of the name include Seolmanduhalmang, Seolmyeongjihalmang and Semyeongjuhalmang.

In the beginning of the universe, in Tamna, lived Seolmundaehalmang, the biggest and the strongest being in the whole world. One day, as she was sleeping, the granny sat up and passed gas, which set off the creation of the universe; islands of flames shook with thunderous sounds and columns of fire shot up to the sky. The granny put out the fire by shoveling up seawater and mud, and built Jeju’s mountains by transporting mud on her skirt, one skirtful of soil forming Mt. Halla and mud dripping from the holes in her skirt forming the island’s many volcanic cones, called oreum. The granny’s urine tore off a piece of land from Seongsan Port and made the island Soseom.

Grandmother Seolmundae’s body was rich and fertile, carrying everything inside: The people of Tamna plowed fields on her soft flesh; her hair turned into grass and trees; the powerful streaks of her urine gave birth to all types of seaweed and fish, octopus, abalone, and sea conch, enriching the sea and making the way for the profession of Jeju’s women divers.

Because the granny had only one ragged skirt, she washed it constantly, her hips resting on Mt. Halla, one leg on Gwantal Island, the other on Jigwi Island off the town of Seogwipo, using Seongsan Peak as laundry basket, and Soseom as washboard. She sometimes lay down, resting her head on Mt. Halla and dangling and kicking her feet in the sea, creating white foam all around the island, which turned into surf and waves, and each time she moved and shifted her feet, the sea rocked as if in a great storm.

Despite all the riches that she brought, Grandmother Seolmundae was unhappy due to her great size, which made it impossible for her to dress properly, her ragged and torn skirt unable to cover her vagina, as big as Goraegul (Whale’s Cave). For a long time the granny wanted to build a bridge to the mainland for the people of the island, and one day offered that if the people made an undergarment for her, she would build the bridge. One hundred barrels of silk were required to weave the granny’s undergarment, but the people of Tamna were able to come up with only ninety-nine barrels, which was not enough to produce a complete piece of underwear. This was when silk was still a rarity in the human world and the islanders felt disappointed and frustrated at the lack of material, and the granny was ashamed and upset at the incomplete undergarment, which revealed her vagina. The granny gave up building the bridge, and since that time Jeju remained an island isolated by water.

The granny, on the other hand, was always proud of her immense height: When she stepped inside Yongyeon (Dragon Estuary), known for its depth, the water reached only the top of her foot, and the spring water at Hongnimul reached only her knees. Muljangorimul on Mt. Halla, however, was a bottomless spring and she drowned before she could climb out of the water.

A variant of this myth combines Grandmother Seolmundae’s death with the tale of Obaekjanggun (Five-Hundred Generals):

The granny was living on Mt. Halla after giving birth to Five-Hundred Generals, but poverty and a bad harvest made it difficult for her to feed such a big family, and she sent out her sons to get food. After all her five hundred sons left in search of food, the granny began making porridge in a gigantic cauldron hung on Baengnokdam, the crater lake on top of Mt. Halla, starting a fire, then walking along the rim of the cauldron to stir the porridge. While stirring, however, Grandmother Seolmundae took a wrong step and fell into the cauldron, drowning herself. The five hundred brothers returned and unaware of what had happened, began to eat, enjoying the porridge, which tasted more delicious than at other times. The youngest of the five hundred, who returned last, was scooping up porridge for himself when he found strange bones in the cauldron, and upon a closer look, realized that they were his mother’s. The youngest son lamented, refusing to remain with his disrespectful brothers who had eaten their own mother, and ran off to the faraway island of Chagwi off the village of Gosan in Hangyeong-myeon, where he wept and wept until he turned into a rock. Thus today in the valley of Yeongsil can be found the four-hundred-and ninety-nine generals and the youngest brother, on his own, on Chagwi Island.

All around Jeju Island, the myth of Seolmundaehalmang has been transmitted, in different versions that reflect local characteristics, to explain the origins of the island’s geographical features. In regard to transmission method, this myth has not been documented or performed as part of shamanic rituals or worship, and has been passed down strictly as an oral tradition.

Grandmother Seolmundae

Grandmother Seolmundae
Headword

설문대할망 ( 雪门黛婆婆 , Seolmun- daehalmang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer MoonMoobyung(文武秉)

This oral myth from Jeju Island is about a goddess of immense size and strength named Seolmundaehalmang, who created the island by shoveling mud from the seabed. Some ancient records refer to this goddess as Samandugo or Seonmago, and oral variants of the name include Seolmanduhalmang, Seolmyeongjihalmang and Semyeongjuhalmang.

In the beginning of the universe, in Tamna, lived Seolmundaehalmang, the biggest and the strongest being in the whole world. One day, as she was sleeping, the granny sat up and passed gas, which set off the creation of the universe; islands of flames shook with thunderous sounds and columns of fire shot up to the sky. The granny put out the fire by shoveling up seawater and mud, and built Jeju’s mountains by transporting mud on her skirt, one skirtful of soil forming Mt. Halla and mud dripping from the holes in her skirt forming the island’s many volcanic cones, called oreum. The granny’s urine tore off a piece of land from Seongsan Port and made the island Soseom.

Grandmother Seolmundae’s body was rich and fertile, carrying everything inside: The people of Tamna plowed fields on her soft flesh; her hair turned into grass and trees; the powerful streaks of her urine gave birth to all types of seaweed and fish, octopus, abalone, and sea conch, enriching the sea and making the way for the profession of Jeju’s women divers.

Because the granny had only one ragged skirt, she washed it constantly, her hips resting on Mt. Halla, one leg on Gwantal Island, the other on Jigwi Island off the town of Seogwipo, using Seongsan Peak as laundry basket, and Soseom as washboard. She sometimes lay down, resting her head on Mt. Halla and dangling and kicking her feet in the sea, creating white foam all around the island, which turned into surf and waves, and each time she moved and shifted her feet, the sea rocked as if in a great storm.

Despite all the riches that she brought, Grandmother Seolmundae was unhappy due to her great size, which made it impossible for her to dress properly, her ragged and torn skirt unable to cover her vagina, as big as Goraegul (Whale’s Cave). For a long time the granny wanted to build a bridge to the mainland for the people of the island, and one day offered that if the people made an undergarment for her, she would build the bridge. One hundred barrels of silk were required to weave the granny’s undergarment, but the people of Tamna were able to come up with only ninety-nine barrels, which was not enough to produce a complete piece of underwear. This was when silk was still a rarity in the human world and the islanders felt disappointed and frustrated at the lack of material, and the granny was ashamed and upset at the incomplete undergarment, which revealed her vagina. The granny gave up building the bridge, and since that time Jeju remained an island isolated by water.

The granny, on the other hand, was always proud of her immense height: When she stepped inside Yongyeon (Dragon Estuary), known for its depth, the water reached only the top of her foot, and the spring water at Hongnimul reached only her knees. Muljangorimul on Mt. Halla, however, was a bottomless spring and she drowned before she could climb out of the water.

A variant of this myth combines Grandmother Seolmundae’s death with the tale of Obaekjanggun (Five-Hundred Generals):

The granny was living on Mt. Halla after giving birth to Five-Hundred Generals, but poverty and a bad harvest made it difficult for her to feed such a big family, and she sent out her sons to get food. After all her five hundred sons left in search of food, the granny began making porridge in a gigantic cauldron hung on Baengnokdam, the crater lake on top of Mt. Halla, starting a fire, then walking along the rim of the cauldron to stir the porridge. While stirring, however, Grandmother Seolmundae took a wrong step and fell into the cauldron, drowning herself. The five hundred brothers returned and unaware of what had happened, began to eat, enjoying the porridge, which tasted more delicious than at other times. The youngest of the five hundred, who returned last, was scooping up porridge for himself when he found strange bones in the cauldron, and upon a closer look, realized that they were his mother’s. The youngest son lamented, refusing to remain with his disrespectful brothers who had eaten their own mother, and ran off to the faraway island of Chagwi off the village of Gosan in Hangyeong-myeon, where he wept and wept until he turned into a rock. Thus today in the valley of Yeongsil can be found the four-hundred-and ninety-nine generals and the youngest brother, on his own, on Chagwi Island.

All around Jeju Island, the myth of Seolmundaehalmang has been transmitted, in different versions that reflect local characteristics, to explain the origins of the island’s geographical features. In regard to transmission method, this myth has not been documented or performed as part of shamanic rituals or worship, and has been passed down strictly as an oral tradition.