Friday, December 14, 2007

Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Special - December 7, 2007

In the Gangneung area, a joyous festival unfolds from April 5 until the Dano festival day in the lunar calendar, where all Gangneung citizens from the young to silver-haired elderly mingle together with the tourists.

As one of Korea's most loved traditional festivals, Dano falls on May 5th of the lunar calendar and its purpose is to entreat to the spirits for peace in the village and an abundant harvest. The Dano festival held in the Gangneung area (Gangneung Danoje Festival) starts on April 5th in the lunar calendar with the brewing of the sacred liquor that will be presented to the spirits. When the sacred liquor is brewed, a veneration ceremony to Seonghwangsin (Spirit of the Castle who guards the village and its land) is held on Daegwallyeong Ridge and the sacred tree is cut down to be put into the Seonghwangdang (village shrine) in downtown Gangneung. On May 3rd of the lunar calendar, Yeongsinje (the spirit-welcoming ceremony) is held, signaling the start of the Danoje Festival in full swing. At the Danojang (the place where Danoje Festival is held) located within downtown Gangneung, various events take place to amuse the audience such as worship ceremonies held in the mornings and evenings, shaman's rite, mask drama, swing-riding contest, Ssirum (Korean wresting), instrumental music of peasants, etc. And then, sacred tree is burned, and Songsinje (the sprit-sending worship) is held, closing the one-month-long Gangneung Danoje Festival.

A Korean traditional culture that has been handed down from generation to generation, the Gangneung Danoje Festival displays various artistic cultural heritages and customs such as worship ceremonies, shaman's rite, mask drama, instrumental music of peasants, farming songs, swing-riding contest, washing one's hair with water boiled with sweet flag leaves, etc. Recognized for its cultural uniqueness and artistry, the Gangneung Danoje Festival was designated in 2005 by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Special.

The new stamp features Gangneung Danoje Festival's Gwanno mask drama, a pantomime used to be performed by the servants of the government offices in old days, about the love story between a Yangban (nobleman) and a bride who symbolize the female/male Seonghwangsin (Spirit of Castle who guards the village and its land), each. Also featured is a scene from Tapdeunggut, one of the exorcisms held during Danoje festival in order to light up the road on which the Spirit goes back.


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