Thursday, May 5, 2016

Myohyeollye at Jongmyo Shrine

As part of the 2nd Royal Culture Festival 2016: Today We Meet the Palace, which highlights court proceedings in the Joseon Dynasty, the ancestral rites of Myohyeollye were conducted at Jongmyo Shrine.

Myohyeollye refers to the ceremony for the reporting of the marriage of Joseon's Crown Princess to the spirits of the deceased royal ancestors at Jongmyo. Among the national rites of the Joseon Dynasty performed at Jongmyo, this was the only event in which royal females were allowed to participate.

Myoheyollye Ceremony in Joseon Wangjo Sillok (Annals of the Joseon Dynasty)

1st articles of the Imjin dated October 9 in the 22nd year of King Sukjong's reign in the Chronicles of the King Sukjong, Book 30.
"If we allow female royal officials to participate in the Myohyeon rite, the dignity and reverence of the royal ancestral shrine will surely be harmed."
However, King Sukjong sternly reprimanded his retainers:
"Adopting and implementing the Chinese system is truly appropriate. Furthermore, who else should assist the Myohyeon rite performed by the queen and crown princesses, other than female royal officials? If we abolished or ceased performing the Myohyeon rite for this reason, it would be similar to not eating feed because we feel choked. Review this carefully, notify me, and strictly implement it."
After the king had sternly rebuked his retainers, he ordered them to go to Jongmyo Shrine with the queen and crown princesses. This incident shows the strength of King Sukjong's leadership. On October 16th in the 22nd year of King Sukjong's reign, the queen and crown princesses went to Jongmyo to pay their respects to their royal ancestors. For King Sukjong, allowing the queen and crown princesses to perform the Myohyeollye signified recognition of his daughter-in-laws' succession to the royal tradition and confirmed the status of his queen.

As such, the Myohyeollye, which was performed on October 16th in the 22nd year of King Sukjong's reign, was the first national event to include female participants, and was also the first time that both the queen and the crown princesses performed the Myohyeollye rite together. On that day, the king and crown prince wore myeonbok (the most prestigious formal robe -- on the king's outer robe were 9 cranes and 7 cranes on the princes, more than on the typical court robes robe at other ceremonies), while the queen and crown princesses wore the most splendid, colorful jeogui (the more formal dresses).  

Procedure of Myohyeollye

(1) Preparation of Bongsim by the King and Crown Prince
The king, crown prince, and civil and military officials make four reverent bows to the dynasty's previous kings.

(2) Visit to the Shrine by the King and Crown Prince
The king and crown prince pay a visit to the shrine rooms of the spirits of the deceased royal ancestors.

(3) The King and Crown Prince Enter Socha
After the civil and military officials have left the shrine, the king and crown prince enter socha.

(4) Almyo by the Queen and Crown Princess
The queen and crown princess pay an official visit to the dynasty's previous kings.

(5) The Queen and Crown Princess Depart

(6) Closing Ceremonial Photo Shoot

The Formality of the Attire: King and Crown Prince's myeongbok and the Queen and Crown Princess's jeogui

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