Jongmyodaeje (종묘대제) is Korea’s Royal Ancestral Memorial Right that has been recognized with many important designations.
Jongmyodaeje is an UNESCO Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 56 (Jongmyo Jerye), and Korea’s Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 1 (Jongmyo Jeryeak). This ritual is held yearly on the first Sunday of May. It usually begins with eogahaengnyeol (어가행렬) which is a fabulous royal parade dating back from Joseon Dynasty. The parade is truly a sight to behold as it moves through the modern city. Over 1,200 people precede from Gyeongbokgung Palace, through downtown Seoul?via Sejongro, Jongro 1, 2, and 3-ga, and finally arrive at Jongmyo.
Jongmyo Daeje originated as a royal ancestral ritual to honor the past kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty. During the actual Joseon Dynasty, this ritual was held five times a year (spring, summer, fall, winter, and December) until it was abolished by the Japanese colonial rule. This ritual was reinstated in 1969 and has been held every year since then.
During the Joseon Dynasty, Jongmyo Shrine, the destination of the procession, was the setting of ceremonial rituals. Initally, Jongmyo was only referred to as Jeongjeon (Main Hall) where the memorial tablets of Joseon’s reiging kings and queens were enshrined. However, in the modern day, Jongmyo also encompasses Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Peace) where the tablets of posthumous kings and queens are enshrined and Gongsindang (Hall of Meritorious Subjects) is where the tablets of esteemed ministers of the state are kept.
In order to participate in this ceremonial rite, the kings of Joseon traveled to Jongmyo Shrine with princes and subjects in the eogahaengnyeol royal procession. Today, this reenactment features a king mounted on a royal palanquin and accompanied by civil and military officials, and guards that stretch to the front and rear of the procession.
Jeongjeon Jehyang rituals are held accordingly to Confucian tenets, largely consisting of the greeting, serving, and bidding farewell to the spirits. Each procedure is accompanied with Jongmyo Jeryeak. This ritual’s music is pyeongyeong, bokgo and other traditional instruments, along with a dance performance by 64 female dancers called parilmu.
Korea’s Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 1, Jongmyo Jeryeak, was created during King Sejong’s reign and adopted by King Sejo. This name references the entire series of music and dance performed during the Jongmyo rituals. Distinct music is played for each procedure of the Jongmyo Jerye rituals with accompanying songs called Jongmyoakjang and Ilmu. Dances called botaepyeongjimu and jeongdaeeopjimu accompanies the songs.
** Photo Credit: Korea Tourism Organization
Host: Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation / +82-2-3011-2637
Homepage: www.jongmyo.net (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Date: May 4, 2014
Location: Seoul, Jongno-gu, Jongmyo
– Eoga Haengnyeol (Royal Parade): 11:30-12:30
– Yeongnyeongjeon Jehyang Rituals: 13:00-15:00
– Jeongjeon, Gongsindang Jehyang Rituals: 16:30-18:30
Transportation: Jongno 3-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 8 or 11. 5 minute walk from Jongno 3-ga Station.
NOTE: ALL DATES CAN CHANGE DUE TO FESTIVAL ORGANIZATION’S CONDITIONS. PLEASE CHECK THE WEBSITE OR CALL THEM BEFORE PLANNING TO ATTEND THIS FESTIVAL. IN THE CASE THERE ARE ANY CHANGES THAT YOU ARE AWARE OF, PLEASE SHARE IT WITH US AT firstname.lastname@example.org. THANK YOU!