Origin of Jijang(地藏本解)

Origin of Jijang

Headword

지장본풀이 ( 地藏本解 , Jijangbonpuri )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer LeeSooja(李秀子)

The shamanic myth“Jijangbonpuri”narrates the origins of Jijang, a goddess who possesses the power of the death curse (sal) and also the capacity to save the souls of haunted spirits and guide them to the underworld.

Husband and wife Namsan and Yeosan possessed immense wealth but were unable to conceive until late in life when they made a huge donation to the temple and offered prayers to Buddha with food to appease the souls of all creatures on land and at sea (wonbulsuryuk) and finally gave birth to a beautiful girl, whom they named Jijang. Starting when Jijang turned four, her grandfather, grandmother, father, and mother each died a year apart, making her an orphan left in the care of her mother’s brother, suffering ill treatment, going around the village begging with a dog bowl. There were signs of heavenly grace, however, like an owl that came and blanketed her by opening its wings, which help her endure the hardships. Despite the abuse and poverty, word spread of Jijang’s goodness and beauty, and she was married at the age of fifteen. She soon gave birth to a son and her father-in-law handed her all his wealth. However, starting the following year, her grandfather-in-law, grandmother-in-law, father- in-law, and mother-in-law each died a year apart, followed by her husband and son. Left all alone, Jijang went to her sister-in-law’s house to live, but encountering abuse and ill-treatment, set out again on her own. On the road, she met a Buddhist monk and asked him to read her fortune, and was told that her first and last trimesters were auspicious, and that she should hold an underworld entry ritual (saenamgut) to appease the grievances of her dead family.

Jijang chopped wood to build a house, gathered mulberry seeds and silkworm eggs to weave silk, with which she made a bridge for greeting shamanic deities, ribbons for shamanic instruments, and a sack for collecting rice donations. Then she shaved her head, and dressed in monk’s attire, of beard-lichen hat and long gray robe, and carrying a wooden gong and her sack, went around collecting rice donations. She pounded the collected rice in a mortar and steamed it in earthenware, and she was now finally ready to hold an underworld entry ritual for her family, who had died tragic deaths. After staging the ritual, she read the fortunes of her dead family to find out what they had become in the underworld and learned that they had all been reborn as birds.

The plot of“Song of Jijang”is closely connected to death, including attempts at chasing away deadly fate, and the myth is sometimes interpreted as a narrative about the origins of Sa, the devil in charge of bringing illnesses and other calamities. However, although Jijang possesses the power to incur death, she ultimately brings the dead back to life, which makes her a deity in charge of saving haunted spirits and guiding them to the underworld. This myth also offers hints to understanding the origins and motifs of the underworld entry ritual saenamgut, held around the country, and also of the bodhisattva Jijang Bosal, worshipped in Buddhist temples. Within the realm of Korean folk literature, the narrative is one of the most widely spread tales of women’s ordeals, which is assumed to have served as the basis of folk songs like“Sijipsarinorae (Living with the In- Laws), ”similar in narrative structure and plot.

Origin of Jijang

Origin of Jijang
Headword

지장본풀이 ( 地藏本解 , Jijangbonpuri )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer LeeSooja(李秀子)

The shamanic myth“Jijangbonpuri”narrates the origins of Jijang, a goddess who possesses the power of the death curse (sal) and also the capacity to save the souls of haunted spirits and guide them to the underworld.

Husband and wife Namsan and Yeosan possessed immense wealth but were unable to conceive until late in life when they made a huge donation to the temple and offered prayers to Buddha with food to appease the souls of all creatures on land and at sea (wonbulsuryuk) and finally gave birth to a beautiful girl, whom they named Jijang. Starting when Jijang turned four, her grandfather, grandmother, father, and mother each died a year apart, making her an orphan left in the care of her mother’s brother, suffering ill treatment, going around the village begging with a dog bowl. There were signs of heavenly grace, however, like an owl that came and blanketed her by opening its wings, which help her endure the hardships. Despite the abuse and poverty, word spread of Jijang’s goodness and beauty, and she was married at the age of fifteen. She soon gave birth to a son and her father-in-law handed her all his wealth. However, starting the following year, her grandfather-in-law, grandmother-in-law, father- in-law, and mother-in-law each died a year apart, followed by her husband and son. Left all alone, Jijang went to her sister-in-law’s house to live, but encountering abuse and ill-treatment, set out again on her own. On the road, she met a Buddhist monk and asked him to read her fortune, and was told that her first and last trimesters were auspicious, and that she should hold an underworld entry ritual (saenamgut) to appease the grievances of her dead family.

Jijang chopped wood to build a house, gathered mulberry seeds and silkworm eggs to weave silk, with which she made a bridge for greeting shamanic deities, ribbons for shamanic instruments, and a sack for collecting rice donations. Then she shaved her head, and dressed in monk’s attire, of beard-lichen hat and long gray robe, and carrying a wooden gong and her sack, went around collecting rice donations. She pounded the collected rice in a mortar and steamed it in earthenware, and she was now finally ready to hold an underworld entry ritual for her family, who had died tragic deaths. After staging the ritual, she read the fortunes of her dead family to find out what they had become in the underworld and learned that they had all been reborn as birds.

The plot of“Song of Jijang”is closely connected to death, including attempts at chasing away deadly fate, and the myth is sometimes interpreted as a narrative about the origins of Sa, the devil in charge of bringing illnesses and other calamities. However, although Jijang possesses the power to incur death, she ultimately brings the dead back to life, which makes her a deity in charge of saving haunted spirits and guiding them to the underworld. This myth also offers hints to understanding the origins and motifs of the underworld entry ritual saenamgut, held around the country, and also of the bodhisattva Jijang Bosal, worshipped in Buddhist temples. Within the realm of Korean folk literature, the narrative is one of the most widely spread tales of women’s ordeals, which is assumed to have served as the basis of folk songs like“Sijipsarinorae (Living with the In- Laws), ”similar in narrative structure and plot.