Myth of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon

Myth of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer KimDaesook(金大琡)

The shamanic myth“ Sugyeongrangaengyeonnang singa, ”recited as part of illness rituals (byeonggut) performed across the Hamheung region in South Hamgyeong Province, tells the story of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon.

Marriage was arranged between fifteen-year- old Scholar Sukyeong and fourteen-year-old Maiden Aengyeon, after three proposals made to Master Mother and Master Father, which secured half - permission, and flowers blooming on this side and that bowing their heads to each other, which confirmed the permission for them to wed. Scholar Sukyeong referred to a fortuneteller in the south to ask about their marital compatibility and was told their signs on the sexagenary cycle indicate a willow by the river, its thousand branches swaying, and that they would be good in marriage. The groom’s family had sent plentiful wedding gifts and they were rich in possessions, so their life was without lack. But a year, two years passed, then they turned twenty, thirty, then forty, and the couple was still without child. One day, when the husband, now a lord, was on an outing to enjoy the fine weather, he saw a family of swallows returning from south of the river, the offspring flying in front of and behind the parents, then sitting them down on a tree stump that had been rotting for three years, and bringing them worms to eat. The lord felt forlorn and upon returning home, took to bed. At the urging of the wife, the couple consulted a fortuneteller in the south of Gyeongsang Province, who told them that virtue and prayers would bring them a child. So they went to Geumsang Temple on Mt. Anae, with offerings of white rice, jujubes, yellow candles, and yellow paper, and prayed for three months and ten days, which gave them a son, though he was blind. The couple named him Geobuk (Turtle) and a nanny raised him with dedication. When the boy turned three, the couple gave birth to their second son, and he was a hunchback who could not walk. The couple named him Namsaengi (Terrapin) and a nanny raised him. Despite their billions in possession, the parents died after suffering from distress, and their sons frittered away all their wealth, and then went around begging to feed themselves. When they were chased away from homes and told never to come back, the brothers sat outside the gate crying.

Then one day, the younger brother suggested that they head to the temple where were conceived, and they set out, the blind older brother carrying his hunchback brother on his back, the younger brother carrying his brother’s stick, relying on each other to find the way. When they arrived at the temple’s entrance, they found gold nuggets floating in the stream. When the younger brother Namsaengi suggested that they fetch the gold, the older brother responded, “ Why would we be so lucky to keep the gold for ourselves? ”and urged that they keep going. Upon their arrival, Buddha ordered Bulmoki to let them stay in the southern thatched-roof quarters of the temple, to teach them how to read, and to feed them three meals of steamed white rice. When the brothers told Bulmok about the gold nuggets, the temple’s Three Thousand Monks went after the gold, only to find a gold serpent, and came back to beat up the two brothers. But when the brothers went back to see, they were indeed gold nuggets, and the brothers brought them back to offer to Buddha. At this, the temple began to dance, plating Buddha and the temple’s interiors with gold, upon which Buddha opened Geobuk’s eyes and straightened Namsaengi’s back and legs. The brothers came to Joseon and lived until the age of eighty-one, and upon their death became divine beings that oversee human spirits.

The plot of this myth, of a childless couple conceiving after offering prayers to Buddha, and of their disabled sons healing themselves by making an offering to Buddha, emphasizes the miraculous powers of Buddha. The brothers ’names, meaning a turtle and a terrapin, are details that imply longevity and healing powers, which is related to the function of this narrative as part of illness rituals. In the healing ritual honsugut, the song “ Hwangcheonhonsi (Spirit in the Underworld), ” about coaxing the Messenger from the Underworld (Jeoseungsaja) to prolong an individual’s life span, is sung to heal illnesses in adults, while the“ Song of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon ” is sung to treat illnesses in children. The shamanic song“ Jeseokcheongbae (Inviting Jeseok) ”tells the story of the god of childbirth Jeseok, who originated from a swamp in Cheollyeong, and a brother and sister, one of whom is Namsaengi, a hunchback, and the other the blind Geobuk, who pull out a golden pillow from the swamp and offer it to Buddha to heal themselves. It is interesting that both narratives share a similar set of characters and plot, but one prays for healing, while the other for a good harvest and prosperity. The motif of a couple giving birth to disabled children who are healed by Buddha’s grace is distinctive among Korean mythology, as is the motif of brother deities.

Myth of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon

Myth of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer KimDaesook(金大琡)

The shamanic myth“ Sugyeongrangaengyeonnang singa, ”recited as part of illness rituals (byeonggut) performed across the Hamheung region in South Hamgyeong Province, tells the story of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon.

Marriage was arranged between fifteen-year- old Scholar Sukyeong and fourteen-year-old Maiden Aengyeon, after three proposals made to Master Mother and Master Father, which secured half - permission, and flowers blooming on this side and that bowing their heads to each other, which confirmed the permission for them to wed. Scholar Sukyeong referred to a fortuneteller in the south to ask about their marital compatibility and was told their signs on the sexagenary cycle indicate a willow by the river, its thousand branches swaying, and that they would be good in marriage. The groom’s family had sent plentiful wedding gifts and they were rich in possessions, so their life was without lack. But a year, two years passed, then they turned twenty, thirty, then forty, and the couple was still without child. One day, when the husband, now a lord, was on an outing to enjoy the fine weather, he saw a family of swallows returning from south of the river, the offspring flying in front of and behind the parents, then sitting them down on a tree stump that had been rotting for three years, and bringing them worms to eat. The lord felt forlorn and upon returning home, took to bed. At the urging of the wife, the couple consulted a fortuneteller in the south of Gyeongsang Province, who told them that virtue and prayers would bring them a child. So they went to Geumsang Temple on Mt. Anae, with offerings of white rice, jujubes, yellow candles, and yellow paper, and prayed for three months and ten days, which gave them a son, though he was blind. The couple named him Geobuk (Turtle) and a nanny raised him with dedication. When the boy turned three, the couple gave birth to their second son, and he was a hunchback who could not walk. The couple named him Namsaengi (Terrapin) and a nanny raised him. Despite their billions in possession, the parents died after suffering from distress, and their sons frittered away all their wealth, and then went around begging to feed themselves. When they were chased away from homes and told never to come back, the brothers sat outside the gate crying.

Then one day, the younger brother suggested that they head to the temple where were conceived, and they set out, the blind older brother carrying his hunchback brother on his back, the younger brother carrying his brother’s stick, relying on each other to find the way. When they arrived at the temple’s entrance, they found gold nuggets floating in the stream. When the younger brother Namsaengi suggested that they fetch the gold, the older brother responded, “ Why would we be so lucky to keep the gold for ourselves? ”and urged that they keep going. Upon their arrival, Buddha ordered Bulmoki to let them stay in the southern thatched-roof quarters of the temple, to teach them how to read, and to feed them three meals of steamed white rice. When the brothers told Bulmok about the gold nuggets, the temple’s Three Thousand Monks went after the gold, only to find a gold serpent, and came back to beat up the two brothers. But when the brothers went back to see, they were indeed gold nuggets, and the brothers brought them back to offer to Buddha. At this, the temple began to dance, plating Buddha and the temple’s interiors with gold, upon which Buddha opened Geobuk’s eyes and straightened Namsaengi’s back and legs. The brothers came to Joseon and lived until the age of eighty-one, and upon their death became divine beings that oversee human spirits.

The plot of this myth, of a childless couple conceiving after offering prayers to Buddha, and of their disabled sons healing themselves by making an offering to Buddha, emphasizes the miraculous powers of Buddha. The brothers ’names, meaning a turtle and a terrapin, are details that imply longevity and healing powers, which is related to the function of this narrative as part of illness rituals. In the healing ritual honsugut, the song “ Hwangcheonhonsi (Spirit in the Underworld), ” about coaxing the Messenger from the Underworld (Jeoseungsaja) to prolong an individual’s life span, is sung to heal illnesses in adults, while the“ Song of Scholar Sukyeong and Maiden Aengyeon ” is sung to treat illnesses in children. The shamanic song“ Jeseokcheongbae (Inviting Jeseok) ”tells the story of the god of childbirth Jeseok, who originated from a swamp in Cheollyeong, and a brother and sister, one of whom is Namsaengi, a hunchback, and the other the blind Geobuk, who pull out a golden pillow from the swamp and offer it to Buddha to heal themselves. It is interesting that both narratives share a similar set of characters and plot, but one prays for healing, while the other for a good harvest and prosperity. The motif of a couple giving birth to disabled children who are healed by Buddha’s grace is distinctive among Korean mythology, as is the motif of brother deities.