Origin of Woncheongang(袁天纲本解)

Origin of Woncheongang

Headword

원천강본풀이 ( 袁天纲本解 , Woncheongangbonpuri )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer ChoiWono(崔元午)

The shamanic myth“Woncheongangbonpuri”from Jeju Island narrates the origins of the fortunetelling book Woncheongang. The title of the book comes from the name of the famed physiognomist Yuan Tiangang of Tang China, which in late Joseon came to be equated with the book title. In the myth, Woncheongang is the name of a place, while also referring to the eight characters (palja) that make up human destiny in traditional fortunetelling.

The following is a version of the myth as summarized according to shaman Bak Chun-bong’s records:

One day on Gangnim Plain emerged a girl beautiful as jade. A crane flew in from somewhere and put one wing under her and covered her with the other, placing Yagwangju (Marble that Glows at Night) inside her mouth. After the crane raised the girl she was asked by the villagers about her name and age, and when she answered that she did not know, they gave her the name Onari. Upon meeting Lady Baek, who was the mother of King Bagi, Onari learned that her parents were at Woncheongang and set out to find them. She came upon a man named Jangsang, who, when asked for directions to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out for him why it was that he was obliged to do nothing but read inside the fortress by the river Seocheongang. Next Onari came upon a lotus flower, who, when asked fordirections to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out why it was that blossoms bloomed only on its top branch and on no other. Next she came upon a large snake, who, when asked for directions to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out why it was that it could not ascend to the heavens as a dragon when it already had three glowing marbles that were required for its ascension. Then she came upon a maiden named Maeil, who, when asked for directions to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out why it was that she had to do nothing but read all the time. Lastly, she came upon the three maidservants of Okhwang (Jade Emperor), and they asked for her help, explaining that they were scooping up water as a punishment for a wrong they had committed, but their gourds had large holes, which made the job impossible. Onari filled the holes with jeongdang grass and pine resin, and after offering a prayer to Okhwang, scooped out the water for the three maidservants, which made them very happy. They offered to pay back Onari a hundredfold and guided her all the way to Woncheongang. Upon her arrival at Woncheongang, Onari was kept from entering by a gatekeeper, but when she broke into tears, the cold gatekeeper wept with her and reported to her parents of her arrival. Her parents asked Onari about herself, and after confirming that she was their daughter, explained that they were brought here on the day of her birth upon the order of Okhwangsangje (Great Emperor of Jade) to protect Woncheongang, and they gave her a tour of their fortress, inside which all four seasons existed. Several days later, Onari told her parents that she would be returning home, and asked them all the questions that she had received in her travels. Her parents told her that if Jangsang and Maeil married, they would be granted glory and fortune for ten thousand years; that if the lotus flower gave the blossom on its top branch to the first person it encountered, flowers would bloom on all the other branches; that if the large snake gave away two of its glowing marbles to the first person it encountered, it would ascend to heaven as a dragon; and that since Onari was the first person that the lotus and the snake had met, if she received the blossom and the marbles, she would become a divine woman (sinnyeo). On her way back home, after completing all her requests, Onari went to Lady Baek to express her gratitude, offering her one of the glowing marbles, after which she ascended to the heavens as a divine woman of the Jade Emperor. Onari was sent back down to the human world by Okhwang, in charge of traveling to each Buddhist temple and transcribing onto woodblocks the text of the book Woncheongang.

This shamanic myth reflects an ecological view of human destiny, determined not only by relationships among people but by those with flora and fauna, represented in the tale by the lotus and the snake.

Origin of Woncheongang

Origin of Woncheongang
Headword

원천강본풀이 ( 袁天纲本解 , Woncheongangbonpuri )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer ChoiWono(崔元午)

The shamanic myth“Woncheongangbonpuri”from Jeju Island narrates the origins of the fortunetelling book Woncheongang. The title of the book comes from the name of the famed physiognomist Yuan Tiangang of Tang China, which in late Joseon came to be equated with the book title. In the myth, Woncheongang is the name of a place, while also referring to the eight characters (palja) that make up human destiny in traditional fortunetelling.

The following is a version of the myth as summarized according to shaman Bak Chun-bong’s records:

One day on Gangnim Plain emerged a girl beautiful as jade. A crane flew in from somewhere and put one wing under her and covered her with the other, placing Yagwangju (Marble that Glows at Night) inside her mouth. After the crane raised the girl she was asked by the villagers about her name and age, and when she answered that she did not know, they gave her the name Onari. Upon meeting Lady Baek, who was the mother of King Bagi, Onari learned that her parents were at Woncheongang and set out to find them. She came upon a man named Jangsang, who, when asked for directions to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out for him why it was that he was obliged to do nothing but read inside the fortress by the river Seocheongang. Next Onari came upon a lotus flower, who, when asked fordirections to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out why it was that blossoms bloomed only on its top branch and on no other. Next she came upon a large snake, who, when asked for directions to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out why it was that it could not ascend to the heavens as a dragon when it already had three glowing marbles that were required for its ascension. Then she came upon a maiden named Maeil, who, when asked for directions to Woncheongang, asked Onari to find out why it was that she had to do nothing but read all the time. Lastly, she came upon the three maidservants of Okhwang (Jade Emperor), and they asked for her help, explaining that they were scooping up water as a punishment for a wrong they had committed, but their gourds had large holes, which made the job impossible. Onari filled the holes with jeongdang grass and pine resin, and after offering a prayer to Okhwang, scooped out the water for the three maidservants, which made them very happy. They offered to pay back Onari a hundredfold and guided her all the way to Woncheongang. Upon her arrival at Woncheongang, Onari was kept from entering by a gatekeeper, but when she broke into tears, the cold gatekeeper wept with her and reported to her parents of her arrival. Her parents asked Onari about herself, and after confirming that she was their daughter, explained that they were brought here on the day of her birth upon the order of Okhwangsangje (Great Emperor of Jade) to protect Woncheongang, and they gave her a tour of their fortress, inside which all four seasons existed. Several days later, Onari told her parents that she would be returning home, and asked them all the questions that she had received in her travels. Her parents told her that if Jangsang and Maeil married, they would be granted glory and fortune for ten thousand years; that if the lotus flower gave the blossom on its top branch to the first person it encountered, flowers would bloom on all the other branches; that if the large snake gave away two of its glowing marbles to the first person it encountered, it would ascend to heaven as a dragon; and that since Onari was the first person that the lotus and the snake had met, if she received the blossom and the marbles, she would become a divine woman (sinnyeo). On her way back home, after completing all her requests, Onari went to Lady Baek to express her gratitude, offering her one of the glowing marbles, after which she ascended to the heavens as a divine woman of the Jade Emperor. Onari was sent back down to the human world by Okhwang, in charge of traveling to each Buddhist temple and transcribing onto woodblocks the text of the book Woncheongang.

This shamanic myth reflects an ecological view of human destiny, determined not only by relationships among people but by those with flora and fauna, represented in the tale by the lotus and the snake.