Rite and Ritual Music in Jongmyo Shrine
Republic of Korea
the royal Confucian shrine in Seoul dedicated to the ancestors
of the Joseon dynasty, hosts a unique ritual of song, dance and
music. Held on the first Sunday in May, it is organized by the
descendents of the royal family. This typical Confucian ritual
is based on classical Chinese writings on the cult of ancestors
and filial piety with a prayer for the eternal peace of the
ancestral spirits in their shrine.
officials, dressed in costumes with a crown for the king and
diadems for the others, make offerings of food and wine in
sacred vessels. The symbols of Yin and Yang are represented by
the music of gongs, bells, lutes, sitars and flutes, and 64
dances. The Mumnu,
a war dance, represents the actions of the kings and through its
choreography, the forces of Yin and Yang.
is leading to a declining interest in the rite and ritual music
of Jongmyo Shrine.
ritual and music are already protected on the List of the
Intangible National Heritage and the 1982 law is protecting
cultural properties and traditional artists. Training courses
are proposed to increase the number of people skilled in
participating in the ritual. A committee to revive the rituals
is envisaged to undertake historical research, as well as
studies for restoring the costumes, accessories, musical scores
and instruments in co-operation with the Korean National Centre
for Traditional Drama and the National Academy of Music.