Saturday, June 07, 2008

City Hall tour of Danoje

Gangneung City Hall hosted a fantastic tour for foreigners allowing us to better understand the UNESCO qualified Danoje festival and rituals. There were two tour groups: one for foreigners residing locally and one for foreigners from across Korea. Oh, I mean foreign ESL teachers. I will try to explain the rituals and have put the photos in a different order than we toured them.

The story starts with a (possibly simple-minded) girl who filled a basin at this well to drink. As the weather was clear, she saw a reflection of the sun in the water. This upset her so she dumped the basin and refilled it. After repeating this until she was tired, she decided to simply drink the water. Soon thereafter, she learned she was pregnant. I am not sure if the sun or the water was considered responsible. Certainly, I could convince none of the others on the tour to drink.Horrified by being pregnant and unmarried, she left the baby under the rocks in this photo. A stork (interesting convergence with western baby mythology) found and fed the baby until the woman came back and took him home.

The son became a famous Buddhist monk and even travelled to China for training.

I need to read some of the material the tour guides gave us but I think the monk worked (prayed?) at a mountain temple in daegwallyeong. His mother one day went to visit him and died. No one could lift her until an artist took her portrait. Then they could move her (somewhere). Her portrait now resides in a shrine in Gangneung - which we later visited.

All this is the background for the ceremony. Now, it all starts here:

Sacred liquor is made here a month before the Danoje Festival. I guess it is carried up to the mountain shrine.
Sadly, just to the left of the frame is a shaman singing and chanting. Sorry 'bout that.

This shrine is dedicated to the monk I described earlier but also to a general who was at least locally famous. This is the first martial looking San-shin (mountain god) but, as ever, he has his faithful tigers close at hand.

Our tour included a lecture by Bak Sungme of Hankuk University, professor of (something relevant). She described the area east of Daegwallyeong as historically being remote and difficult to reach. Local culture was able to diverge from national norms somewhat. Perhaps that explains the somewhat youthful and weapons-carrying mountain god.


Masuro said...

Great photo tour of Dano! Thanks for posting the photographs and writing about what you saw.

PAKA said...

cool. thanks for your "paul theroux" like descriptions and travel writings.

kwandongbrian said...

thanks for the compliments -wow compliments on my photos from Masuro; I guess I don't need to get a new camera after all.

Paka, I haven't read Theroux enough to recognise his style. I hope that is a compliment!