A comic hunting scene of Baeyeonshin-gut performed by two shamans.
Baeyeonshin-gut is fisherman's ritual to pray for bumper catches of fish and safety at sea along the coastal areas of Western Sea in Korea. Usually shamans lead the ritual on the ship or near sea-shore. It has the role of village festival ( Daedong-gut )at the same time in which village people used to participate. Although it was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 82, its popularity as a village festival is weakening due to modernization.
Baeyeonshin-gut has been transmitted along the western coastal zones centering around Yeongpyungdo island, Ongjin, Haeju, Gochang, Younggwang etc. However, it now is being preserved mainly in Yeonpyungdo island in mid west of Korea.
Music, Dance, Theatre
Unlike the fishermen's rituals by hereditary priests of the east and south coasts, Baeyeonshin-gut of the west coast are basically differentiated by the fact that it is performed by shamans who convey spiritual messages and many marvelous skills in the state of trance. In addition, some entertaining elements are inserted in the ritual procedure to raise the level of interest. The scenes of hunter, old male and female Youngsan are unique and amusing, which are not found in other areas. These kinds of shamanistic entertainment are significant in the point that they allude the transitory phases from ritual to theatre.
Baeyeonshin-gut procedure is composed of invoking of the deities of the shrine, greeting the guardian deities of the village, warding off evil forces, possession by the deities, worshiping before the painted portraits of deities, celebrating the Harvest God, the General God of mountain, the Household God, old Youngsan, other minor gods including ancestors, and the final riverside rite for the Dragon God who rules the sea. As the interlude between rites, celebrating song is sung by village people or the worshiper's dance in shaman's costume is performed to invite good luck.
Baeyeonshin-gut is sponsored by the ship owners who wish for large catch of fish and the safety of ship and sailors. The main deity worshipped as the guardian deity of the village shrine is usually General Lim Gyungeop who became a shamanistic deity after death due to his miraculous deeds related with fish in his lifetime. The artistic quality of Baeyeonshin-gut is determined by the various kinds of shaman's music, song, dance and mime as well as the colorful flags, costumes, flower decorations and so on. The large performance area ranging from mountain to seashore provides an attractive spectacle.
Society for Preservation of Seohaean Baeyeonshin-gut
Ms. Young-Il Heo
Professor, Department of Dance
Korean National University of Arts (Korean National Institute of Cultural Properties)