Chairperson Lee prays for Korean and all peoples of the world7th Ansan Seonghwang Gut
Rite held with 1,000 guests
The 7th Ansan Seonghwang Gut Korean Folk Religious Rite and Dance Festival was held at the Ansan Culture & Art Center in the Ansan City on Oct. 18, 2013 with the attendance of estimated 1,000 Korean and international guests completely filling the main Dalmaji Theatre of the Center.
Before the opening of the rite, senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps and other VIP guests were invited to a luncheon hosted by Chairperson Lee Eun-sook of the Asia Seonghwang Gut Research Institute (ASGRI) and Director Kim Bong-shik of the Ansan Municipal Culture & Art Center at the Buffet Restaurant of the Center.
Welcoming the distinguished guests, Chairperson Lee said, “Welcome to the 7th Ansan Seonghwang Gut Traditional Korean Folk Religious Rite! Today, I would like to present the Jaenmeori Seonghwangje Rite and the Gunjabong Seonghwangje Rite that have a history of over 1,000 years and also the Nojeokbong Seonghwangje Rite that has lost some of the original elements. I hope that the distinguished guests will enjoy our traditional folk religious rite.” (Excerpts from the welcome speech at the end of this Article.)
Welcome remarks were also given by Director Kim Bong-shik of the Ansan Culture & Center and other organizers of the Festival.
The Seonghwang Gut at the Dalmaji Theater of the Center began with the entry of the Seonghwang-gi (Seonghwang Mountain Deity Flag) followed by a Korean farmers’ band with flutes, drums, gongs and cymbals.
The Master of Ceremony this year was MBC TV Actor Kim Yeong-seok who was tall and good-looking wherefore he was instantly given a good audience response, especially from the women guests.
There was an exchange of Plaques of Appreciation between Chairperson Lee Eun-sook and Ambassador Vasyl Marmazovov of the Republic of Ukraine on behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps.
Chief of Administration Oleksander Khimko of the Embassy of Ukraine presented and received it for Ambassador Marmazov who could not make it due to an urgent business.
MC Kim introduced the congratulatory messages of Governor Kim Moon-soo of the Gyeonggi Province, Mayor Kim Cheol-min of the Ansan City, Chairman Jeon Jun-Ho of the Ansan City Council and male shaman National Assemblymen Kim Myung-yun, Kim Young-hwan, Boo Jwa-hyun and Jeon Hae-cheol; Chairman Park Sang-shin of Asia Folk Art and Shamanism Association; and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.
Taking part in the Festival were Commentator Professor Woo Jong-Ung of Myongji University in Seoul; noted Korean Mugyo (folk religion) practioners Ms. Shim Kyung-hee, Ms. Lee Kyung-sook and monk Han Sang-bok.
The performing troupes were Percussion Instrument Troupe Sani, Seonjae Dancing Troupe, Samul Nori Troupe of Yesadang and Korean folksong singers Ms. Kim Suk-I and Bae Myo-ja (both Initiates of the Intangible Cultural Asset Number 57 of the Republic of Korea).
There also were traditional Korean Flutist Kim Sang-keon, Ajaeng Player Kim Sang-koo (seven- stringed instrument) and Flutiest Yun Kil-won.
The Seonghwang Gut began with the presentation of Binari performed by Chairperson Lee Eun-sook. Binari is a presentation of the wishes and desires of the people, which the Mugyo (Korean folk religion) practitioner conveys to the Deities of the Famous Mountains and Great Rivers so that they may come true.
Then there was Sinkal Daein Mu Dance. Performed also by Chairperson Lee, this dance was performed with two bamboo rods each with paper brushes on both ends. This dance was intended to console and usher the spirits of the deceased, who have fulfilled their lives instead of accidental deaths, to the Paradise.
Then there was Bonhyangsan- geori (rite for Home Village Deities) which was also performed by Chairperson. The dance is designed to appease the deities of the birthplaces of one’s parents and oneself.
Then came Musanhyang and Abak dance performed by Koh Jae-hyun and three other dancers. Initiated during the reign of King Sunjo of the Joseon Dynasty, this dance is one of the important court dances of the Dynasty which was presented when there was a big festive event of the country.
Next came the Jeseok- geori presented by Chairperson Lee. It was a rite for Korean Progenitor King Dangun Wanggeom and consisted of an exorcist dance which very much resembled the Bara Dance of Buddhism, in which the performer wears a white conical hat. The Jesok- geori dance is in supplication for pregnancy and safe child birth. It derives from the birth of three sons by the sole daughter of a wealthy man as a result of relationship with a Buddhist monk.
Then there was a fan dance performed by women dancers each with two flowery fans.
The next item was Sinjang Daegam- geori (rite for Zodiac Animal Generals and Excellencies) which was presented by Chairperson Lee. In this dance, the performer let the guests pick one of the five flags of the General Deities and determined the luck of the person picking the flag. The performer also summoned the spirit of the Excellency Deities and asked them to give good luck and good health to the person who picked the flag.At the Korean shaman rites in the past, there was presentation of sacrifices to the deities, where whole pigs and ox were presented to appease the deities. This ceremony, however, has not been practiced in some localities due to the opposition offered by the animal protection groups as well as to the high cost involved. This was re-enacted at the Ansan Seonghwang Gut rite.
Three large pigs and one ox were offered to the deities. Each pig was put on a trident and Chairperson stood the three-thronged spear on a bag of rice on the floor. She did it successfully with the three pigs. However, she had much difficulty in doing so with the ox before she finally succeeded in the act.
Then, finally came the main Seonghwang- geori (Local Deity Rite) which was presented by Chairperson Lee together with other shaman practioners and dancers. It was for the good luck and health of the people in the Ansan City where there were shrines for the local Mountain Guardian Deities. In the past, the Ansan Seonghwang- geori was presented also for the bumper crop for the farmers and good catch for the fishermen because the area, adjacent to the West Sea, was noted for good farming and fishing. One local folk religious shrine (Seonghwang-dang) used to stand at the Nojeokbong-san Mountain shrouded with castor aralia and pine trees that are several hundred years old and another one near the Siheung City (Siheung City Cultural Legacy No. 14) surrounded by zelkova trees that are equally several hundred years old. The Seonghwang-gut used to be held at such shrines in the past.
Excerpts from welcome remarks by Chairperson Lee Eun-sook:
I am Chairperson Lee Eun-sook of the Asian Traditional Seonghwang Folk Religious Rite Research Institute and the House of Nature. I offer my heart-felt welcome and gratitude to all the distinguished guests from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps and also the members of the Seoul Foreign Correspondence Club as well as the fellow citizens of Ansan and other regions of the country.
Every country has a history and tradition and the people wish to keep the tradition for a long time. Today, I would like to present the Jaenmeori Seonghwangje Rite and the Gunjabong Seonghwangje Rite that have a history of over 1,000 years and also the Nojeokbong Seonghwangje Rite that has lost some of the original elements. The Gut rites are presented in supplication for the safety and prosperity of the 760,000 citizens of the Ansan City, all the businesses and Korean and international visitors to the Ansan City and their families and for the harmony of all the peoples. Through these rites, I have been trying to promote the local culture and art with traditional folk religious music, dance and witty narratives. This is the seventh Ansan Seonghwang Gut Rite we have been hosting. We had the honor of attendance of the ambassadors and other senior diplomats last year and I am very honored to have even more senior members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Dear admirers of the traditional Korean culture and the local culture! I offer my prayers for the peace and comfort of the Ansan City, the Gyeonggi Province, the entire Korea and the entire world. And I wish to further develop these rites so that they will become the cultural festival of the entire nation and the world through exchange with other countries. I am also gratefully favored with the kind attendance of business representatives here and I hope that they will all have a good time together. Again, I wish you and your family the best of health and good luck. k