Saturday, April 28, 2018

Shaman Festival, Gyeryongsan

Hippie Korea tour group organized a trip to the "princess festival" (as translated online ) at Gyeryongsan, Gyeryongsan has been regarded as a sacred mountain since ancient times, and documented as such since the Silla Dynasty. During the Joseon Dynasty XX temple on Gyeryongsan positioned strategically and geomantically-speaking between Mt. Myohyang to the north and Jiri Mts to the south was dedicated to the mountain, which thus became its national guardian. The mountain also created a unique aspect of Korean Buddhism, the "sanshin prayer" which is making hopes and expressing wishes to the mountain god. For civilians, the mountain god was the object of praying for fertility and the birth of a son, and for shamans the mountain god is an objective source of energy. Shamanic practices have been central to this mountain culture and, until the Japanese colonial period when many traditional Korean cultural expressions were prohibited, were conducted annually here. 

After the colonial period, shamanic practices were quickly reinstated and Gyeryongsan is arguably one of the strongholds of Korean shamanism. However, with the influences of modernism and on-going dynamic culture changes the people of Gyeryongsan Jarak Village have changed their ceremony and incorporated it into a festival that invites tourism. That said, it is still a type of national ceremony.

So a busload of international people descended on the festival, and the locals were delighted. Several special farmers' dances had been prepared, but the best dancing was done by a group of elderly villagers, mostly men over 60, who pounded out the beat with great enthusiasm, although always in sync. They had real character! I've heard a lot of farmers' drum groups but these guys far excelled all others because they played like they felt the music, and they danced raucously while playing like the act of sharing music was a wild and enervating experience. Well, I'm convinced it was for them, and by extension to all the viewers as well! And like in all Korean traditional performances, there is no barrier between the performers and the audience, and so the audience was naturally expected to participate in the dancing, and yes the drinking of makgeolli too ... which large numbers did!

The festival performance included role play between historical characters, had a reenactment of a gut (exorcism), included a women's dance representing the dignity and properness of the upperclass, and between performances the audience was fed ddeok for comensal eating and plied with makgeolli for the same purpose.

The entrance to the festival site with jangseung appropriately standing to fend off evil. In traditional times the jangseung, the yin-yang couple, were positioned along the roads the led into villages. They were the sentinels of the village and thought to ward off evilness with their ugly faces.
best drumming group ... really warming the audience up!
By popular request at the end of this particular day at the festival, the elderly-men (mostly) drummers were requested to pound out their invigorating beats again!
A beautiful display of real food for this country festival!  Of late, I've been seeing plastic foods and sweets because of food expense and the subsequent waste of ceremonial food so this display is quite impressive.
The pig, especially a smiling pig, brings good luck to shamanic festivals.

The large basin in front of the pig is filled with makgeolli, and people with petitions come up and dip a bill of money, typically W10,000, into the makgeolli and paste it onto the pig. Unfortunately the wind was blowing and the bills kept flying off the pig ..... does this mean that luck or one's wishes fly away? Hmm, didn't ask.
A very rich display of wealth for the ceremony presented here! Plus, displaying the lucky smiling pig!
Fortune will shine on this village!

No comments:

Post a Comment