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Moon House Burning

Daljiptaeugi is a ritual for praying for a good harvest and peace in the village by setting on fire the moon house, made of bamboo and pine branches, as the moon rises on Jeongwoldaeboreum (Great Full Moon), on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Building a moon house (daljip) is an act of enshrining the moon deity, in the same vein as building a shrine to worship a village deity. Setting fire to the moon house is viewed as an attempt at maximizing the life force of all beings of the uni

Korean Folk Beliefs

Gwangju Chilseok Gossaum Nori

A game clashing two gos, long structures made of logs and straw, to decide a winner. The origin of Gossaum Nori remains unknown due to the lack of any historical record, however, the tradition was passed down through word of mouth. According to the data, Chilseok Village has a strong, earthly energy, based on the principles of Feng-Shui, due to its characteristic of taking the form of an ox laying down. This resulted in the villagers being unable to raise dogs there, leading to their raising gee

Korean Folk Arts

Carrying the coffin to the burial site

That part of a funeral procession in which the coffin is carried to the burial site on a bier, or the act of carrying the coffin to the grave. Unsang had been performed using a cart driven by men, cows, or horses, but when “Jujagarye” (朱子家禮, Family Rituals of Zhu Xi) was introduced, the bier was generally carried by men on their shoulders. When barin (Kor. 발인, Chin. 發靷, departure of the funeral procession from the home to the burial site) is over, unsang begins. The style of the unsang may vary

Korean Rites of Passage

Loop Fight

Gossaum nori (Kor. 고싸움놀이, lit. loop fighting game) is a popular folk event held in Chilseok-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju (South Jeolla Province) on the Great Full Moon Day (the fifteenth of the first lunar month). It has been designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 33. The goal of gossaum nori, a type of tug-of-war with two large ropes with loops at the end known as go (Kor. 고), is to force the opposite team’s loop-end to the ground. There is always a worship service for the village’s

Korean Seasonal Customs

Welcoming the Moon

Dalmaji (Kor. 달맞이, lit. welcoming the moon) was one of the principal customs associated with Jeongwol Daeboreum (Kor. 정월 대보름, Great Full Moon Festival). Its purpose was to pray for good fortune in the year ahead. Other names for the custom include yeongwol (Kor. 영월, Chin. 迎月, lit. waiting for the moon rise), mangwol (Kor. 망월, Chin. 望月, lit. watching the moon), dalbogi (Kor. 달보기, lit. watching the moon), mangwore jeolhagi (Kor. 망월에 절하기, lit. bowing to the moon) and manguri (Kor. 망우리, lit. full mo

Korean Seasonal Customs

Moon Divination

Predicting the crop harvest of the upcoming fall, based on the hue, shape and thickness of the first full Moon of the year (the fifteenth of the first lunar month) is known as daljeom (Kor. 달점), woljeom (Kor. 월점), mangwoljeom (Kor. 망월점) or daljeom chigi (Kor. 달점치기). (All names stand for “Moon divination”). The “Dongguk Sesigi” (Kor. 동국세시기, Chin. 東國歲時記, A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea, 1849) documented the following about moon divination. “The fortune is read from the color of the Moon. If

Korean Seasonal Customs

Well Ritual

Umulje, or well ritual, is a rite for the spirit in the well, in recognition of the sanctity of a natural spring, the village well, or a private well at home. Also called saemje (spring ritual) or yong je (dragon ritual), well rituals worship Yongsin (Dragon God) who resides in the well. These rituals are generally observed as household rituals to pray for an ample supply of water, offering sacrificial foods by the well in the backyard of a home; but in some cases held as communal rites. In agri

Korean Folk Beliefs

Village God Myth

Dangsinhwa refers to the myth of the village god (dangsin) worshipped in the village’s communal rituals, which narrates the story of the deity’s enshrinement at the village shrine. On Jeju Island, these narratives are called dangbonpuri (village god origin myth), while in inland regions they are called maeulsinhwa (village myth): The former tells the story of a village god’s origins while the latter of a god worshipped in village shrines deemed as sacred within the boundaries of naturally formed

Korean Folk Literature

Earthenware Jar

Danji is an earthenware jar that is worshipped as a sacred entity enshringing a household god, or as the deity itself. These jars are small and round, bulging around the center, and their names vary according to the enshrined deity. Daegamdanji is the sacred entity for Daegamsin (State Official God), who oversees a family’s material fortune. This jar is usually enshrined in the grain shed, but sometimes in a corner of the inner chamber, the open hall, the kitchen, or outdoors in some cases. The

Korean Folk Beliefs

Offering of Early-harvested Rice

Olgae simni (Kor. 올개심니, offering of early-harvested rice) is a custom where farming households pick some rice shortly before the usual harvest time and offer the food prepared with this early crop on the ancestral altar. Depending on the region, olgae simni is also known as olgye simni (Kor. 올계심리), olge simni (Kor. 올게심리), olgi simni (Kor. 올기심니), ori simni (Kor. 올이심리/오리심리), olbe simni (Kor. 올베심리), or olbi sinmi (Kor. 올비신미). The word olgae (Kor. 올개) literally translates as “early rice, ” while the

Korean Seasonal Customs

Jungma Nori

A game making and riding bamboo horses among boys. In general, Jungma Nori (bamboo horse riding) is being passed down in regions with many bamboo trees while being used in various ways. The origin of this game is unknown, however the game itself was played not only in Korea, but also in China and Japan. In Korea, the trees were grown mostly in the southern regions and on Jeju Island, where Jungma Nori was played as well. Jungma Nori is a speed race to reach, and return from, a predetermined poin

Korean Folk Arts

Seven Stars

Chilseong, or Seven Stars, is a deification of the constellation Bukduchilseong (Big Dipper), overseeing health and longevity, personal wishes, peace and safety, and most of all, longevity of children. Chilseong worship is one of the oldest practices in Korean folk religion, observed by women in the form of private household rituals with an offering of fresh water from the well (jeonghwasu), or by shamans in the form of chilseonggut, or Seven Stars ritual. In Taoism, Chilseong is believed to ove

Korean Folk Beliefs
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