Saturday, August 23, 2014

칠석고사 Chiseok-gosa -- ritual for 7th day of 7th lunar month


The auspicious day (August 2, 2014) is observed by shaman rituals in the home.
(Text from Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture; LWDeutsch photos)

칠석고사(Chilseokgosa)  is a ritual held in homes to mark Chilseok Day, the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Also called chilseokje (Seventh Evening ritual) or chilseongje (ritual for Seven Stars), this ritual is an annual seasonal ceremony held to pray for the health and longevity of the family’s offspring. It is observed either on the morning or evening of Chilseok Day, or the evening before, with a simple hand-rubbing (bison) rite to worship Chilseong (Seven Stars) or Okwangsangje (Pure August Jade Emperor).

Patron offering "kit" with bag of rice,
bottle of soju and dried fish.
The ritual takes place in the backyard by the sauce jar terrace, a location considered the cleanest place in the home and thereby the most suitable place to offer devotion to Chilseong. Altars are sometimes set up in the form of a rock (chilseongdol), or a pile of red clay (chilseongdan). Many of the ritual’s procedures are performed in sets of seven, in association with Chilseok or Chilseong: seven spoons inserted in the bowl of steamed rice (me) on the ritual table; offering seven bows and seven cups of ritual wine; burning seven sheets of prayer text (soji); and steaming white rice cake in a steamer (siru) with seven holes.

Shaman's assistants preparing offerings (pancake),
polish brass altar utensils.
Sacrificial foods generally comprise steamed rice and sea mustard soup, which is related to the longevity of children. In South Chungcheong Province, the rice enshrined inside Samsin pouch, the sacred entity for the Goddess of Childbearing, is used to make steamed rice on Chilseok Day. Since rice is an important sacrificial food for this occasion, during the fall harvest each year, some rice is set aside for Chilseok. Other offerings include plain white rice cake (baekseolgi), made with clear water and rice powder, and cooked vegetables. Flour pancakes are also offered in some regions. In some cases fish and seafood are considered taboo.

Taboos are more strictly observed compared to other household rituals: The ritual is not held in the case of impurities, including a death in the village. If the family keeps a “life bridge (myeongdari),” or longevity prayer cloth, hung at their shaman’s shrine, they visit the shaman on Chilseok Day to pray for the longevity of the children, and offer prayers at the Chilseong shrine at Buddhist temples as well.

1 comment:

Lauren W. Deutsch said...

Kyoto Journal has posted my updated profile on Kim Keuhwa: http://www.kyotojournal.org/the-journal/culture-arts/kim-keumhwas-everyday-shamanism/