Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Republic of Korea


Crane's Dance


Hakmu is an attractive bird dance form of Korea performed in the crane's masks and movement patterns. It is also peculiar due to its festive, religious atmosphere.

Reasons for selection

Hakmu, the crane's dance, is unique and rare in the point that it is the only form of bird dance in Korea. It is also an important court dance form performed in close relation with other court dances like Cheoyong-mu (Cheoyong Mask Dance)and Yeonhwadaemu (Lotus Flower Pedestal Dance)for the purpose of inviting good luck of all people.

Area where performed

As a court dance, Hakmu has been performed mainly in the courtyard of Royal Palace until the end of Choson Dynasty. However, it is reported that it has been also popular among common people since long time ago.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

Cranes have been worshipped by Korean people as one of ten auspicious animals of long lives. The crane's lofty, elegant image appealed deeply to Korean mind and it faithfully reflected in the techniques and moods of Hakmu.

It is assumed that Hakmu originated during Koryo Dynasty (918-1392), but its exact time and originator is uncertain. However, it seems clear that Hakmu came to be adopted as a court dance for warding off evil spirits and inviting good fortune at the time of national exorcism ritual ( Narye )and some other festive occasions from 1493 in the reign of King Seongjong (1493)of Choson Dynasty.

Traditionally, Hakmu has been performed by two female dancers who put on crane's masks and costumes. Recently, Seongjun Han (1874-1941), a legendary master and composer of Korean folk dance, refined it into a more sophisticated style and popularized it. It was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 40 in 1971.

As an animal dance, Hakmu shows an excellent artistic quality while imitating crane's elegant posture and movement such as flying, walking, pecking, circling, bowing, raising head or leg, etc. in stylized manner. Its auspicious character is clear in the fact that it is performed after Cheoyongmu and at the same time as preliminary item of Yeonhwadaemu that insinuates Buddhistic origin. When two cranes peck at the lotus blossoms after a series of stylized movement, it abruptly opens and two little female dancers appear out of it and perform auspicious dance. Consequently, Cheoyong-mu, Hakmu and Yeonhwadaemu came to be integrated into one repertory.

Publication and textual documentation

already available

Audio documentation

no information at present

Visual documentation

already available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Society for Preservation of Hakmu

Data provider

Ms. Young-Il Heo
Professor, Department of Dance
Korean National University of Arts,
Korean National Institute of Cultural Properties
Address: N/A