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Performing Arts
Republic of Korea

Seoul Sanam-gut

A Gut for the well-being of the dead


A shaman dancing to gut-gari rhythm in Sunju-gut.

The hall where the Gut takes place is elaborately decorated and the costume, the music and the dance of the shaman are very fancy and colorful.

Reasons for selection

Compared to other Gut, Seoul Sanam-gut is most elaborate in composition and colorful in its style.

Area where performed

Seoul Area

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

Seoul Sanam-gut is one of Mangja Chundo Gut (a Gut for the well-being of the dead)found in Seoul. The unique characteristic of Seoul Sanam-gut has to do with Seoul being the center of Korean culture since the Choson Period. For this reason, Seoul Sanam-gut has elements of court culture in Choson. The dress Pari Kongju wears is a duplicate of that of princess, and the music and the dance in the rituals are also mostly from those of court.

Generally, we can divide the Gut in two categories: Chunshin-gut and Jinogwi-gut. The former, Chunshin-gut, is a way of appealing to the gods to one's wishes. The latter, Sanam-gut ( Jinogwi ), is held to wish for the dead to reach Heaven in their next life. When the two Gut are put together, it is called Sanam-gut, and Andang Sakyong Maji and Sanam-gut make up Seoul Sanam-gut. The first half of Seoul Sanam-gut serves as preliminary and the latter half is when the professional Chundo ritual for the dead is performed.

This multi-leveled and elaborate format consists of Mang Goris (smaller Gut )making it fancier. Seoul Sanam-gut is a shamanistic ritual which exemplifies the complex and mixed ideas Koreans have had of the other world.

Publication and textual documentation

National Research Institute of Cultural Properties of Korea
1998 Seoul Sanam-gut.

Audio documentation

National Research Institute of Cultural Properties of Korea
1997 Seoul Sanam-gut: A documentary film (Betacam, VHS).

Visual documentation

The above video includes both visual and audio information.

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Seoul Sanam-gut Preservation Society, Seoul.

Data provider

Mr. Im Jang-Hyuk
Senior Researcher (Folkloric Studies Division)
National Research Institute of Cultural Properties of Korea
Address: 1, Sejong-Ro, Chungno-ku, Seoul 110-050
Republic of Korea