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8 Jishinbalgi

Jishinbalki was usually done between the January 1st and first full moon (January 15th); however, it was also done on other major and minor holidays and times of collecting funds for the village.

Jishinbalki gave people a chance to discuss the main concerns of the village. The money collected from it was then spent to benefit the village. The highlight of Jishinbalki was stepping on the bad sprits together, providing a sense of unity through playing and dancing together.

Jishinbalki can be done not only in countryside but also anywhere people have a common wish. Each Jishinbalki can have its own appropriate songs and ancestor honoring rituals (Gosa). In countryside, it usually had a certain order and Deokdam (chants or well-wishing remarks).

  1. Dangsangut

    This form of Jishinbalki was done honoring the guardian spirit of the village, Dangsan; however, it also acted as a type of village meeting where everyone's opinion was heard and considered. Dangsangut was the most important village ceremony. The order and chants were different in every region. The following is a common order of Dangsangut in Jeonla province.


    1. March into Dangsan starting with the last player, usually the Sogo player, by playing rhythm of Jilkut (Pungryu).
    2. Change rhythm to Samchae or a similar rhythm when all players reach Dangsan and make the Obangjin (5 Directional formation). Doing the Obangjin represents the cleaning of the place to be performed on.
    3. After the Obangjin, stand in one or two lines and play Insakut (bowing rhythm).
    4. Ancestor worship:
      1. Read ancestor-worshiping speech: (Ex.) "2001, December 12th, offering."
      2. Soji (burning of paper in air): (Ex.) "Uh huh ruroo? Please listen to our wishes, Dangsan."
      3. Eumbok (the sharing and eating of the food used in the worship).
    5. Play Insakut three times and exit.

  2. Saemgut: Gut for the Village Community Water Well

    If, while walking along a village road, the Pungmul group came upon a spring of fresh water, the players would immediately begin to perform a Gut as they continued to pass through the community. The group would pray to the Dragon King/god for the spring water to remain clean and plentiful, to provide a bountiful harvest for the coming year. The group would also pray for the water to remain free from disease so that those who used it may live long and healthy lives.

    (Deokdam: Flow, flow, let only pure water flow/ Give us water, give us water, dear Dragon King of the Four Seas, give us water/ I pray, protect this water from disease, so that many may use it to live long lives.)

  3. Mungut: Gut at the Gate

    If, while going around to all the houses in the village playing Pungmul, the players finally arrived at a home where the owner came out to greet them, they would perform a Gut as they waited to be shown into the house.

    (Deokdam: Owner/host, owner, please open your door, if you don't open your door, I will go/ Owner, owner, please open your door and light a fire in the center of your yard/ Owner, owner, please open your door so that good fortune may pass inside, please open your door.)

  4. Seongjugut (Daecheonggut): Gut to the Guardian God of the Home (Gut for the Main Hall/Room)

    As the Pungmul group sang of the collective family histories of the household, the players would perform a Gut to the Guardian God of the Home, praying for good fortune to be showered on the members of the household, while interpreting the words of the Guardian God of the Home in order to ward off evil. The Pungmul group would then go into the yard and perform a Mungut while the Sangsoi or the Daeposu (one of the acted-out characters or Japsaek), in an area behind the rice field, would continuously shout out clever sayings and any traditional folktales that s/he knew.

  5. Jowanggut (Jeongji-Gut): Gut for the Kitchen (Gut for the Purification of the Ground) (8-1)

    As the Pungmul group performed a Gut in the kitchen, the Daeposu [lead hunter] would place an iron kettle or pot lid upside-down on the floor while the owner of the house would fill a bowl with rice, place a candle in the center of the rice, and pour clean (fresh water drawn from the well at early dawn) water around the candle.

    Let's push, let's push, before the Kitchen God, let's push/
    Let's summon, let's summon, the Jodangjisin (
    8-2) let's summon/
    Please fill this kettle with rice, so that it may feed many/
    Corner, corner, your corner, the corner of the Jeongji is your corner.) (

  6. Cheongnyonggut (Dwiangut, Jangdokgut): Gut to the "Blue Dragon" (Gut for the "rear" of the house, Gut for the various "-jang jars")

    This Gut was performed around the Jangdokdae (a small platform in the rear of the house where large jars were placed for storage of food condiments/pastes) to pray for the soybean paste, red chili pepper paste, soy sauce, etc. to make food taste great.

    (Deokdam: God of the earth, god of the earth, god of the earth, let's call on the Cheongnyongjisin (8-4) / That this may taste sweet, that this may taste sweet, Kkojang-Ttijang (8-5) that this may taste sweet.)

  7. Saemgut: Gut for the House Water Well

    Similar material as for #2, Saemgut for the village community water well.

  8. Gobanggut (Gokgangut): Gut for the Granary (Gut for the Grain Storeroom)

    This Gut was performed in the granary to pray for enough rice to fill the granary to capacity.

    (Deokdam: Please give us a bountiful harvest in the coming year/ A plentiful harvest so that every granary is filled to the brim, commensurate with our farmers' blood and sweat/ So that from the front and from the back we will look like and therefore be proclaimed a wealthy landowner (owner of a crop of a thousand bags of rice).

  9. Oiyanggangut: Gut for the Stables

    This Gut was performed in either the barn or cattle pen.

    (Deokdam: Tied, tied, many golden calves tied (8-6)/ Give us a female calf in order that more calves may be born later/ If a calf is to be born, please give us twin calves.)

  10. Cheukgangut: Gut for the Outhouse

    This Gut was performed at the outhouse. Depending on the regional area, some locations did not observe this Gut.

    (Deokdam: If you fall down the toilet, no medicine will be of any use/ Therefore, I pray that from father to grandson, no one will fall down the toilet/ This I pray, this I pray, I pray this to the God of the Outhouse.)

  11. Sulgut: Gut for Good Liquor

    If the homeowner laid out a liquor table in the yard, this Gut was performed before anyone could be allowed to drink.

    (Deokdam: The tofu stew is steaming hot, so let's quickly play and drink some liquor/ Giving some liquor to the mother-in-law would be a waste, giving some to the daughter-in-law would be embarrassing/ There is a worm coming below, so let's get eating.) (8-7)

  12. Gyeongungigut, Jadongchagut: Gut for the Power Tiller, Gut for the Car

    This Gut was to pray that the most recently produced and important utilized tool, the village power tiller or car, would not break down. The Pungmul group would pray that the power tiller or car would serve to be useful, and that neighbors would rejoice together over a newly purchased vehicle. This is a new custom.

    (Deokdam: Move, move, move with strength.)

* Translator's Personal Note: The Gut originated during a period of Korea's history when shamanistic beliefs permeated many aspects of the daily lives of the traditional Korean farmers. They believed in many gods whom they thought to exercise dominion over the forces of nature and over all the products bestowed by nature for their sustenance. They also believed that these gods would protect their households and would provide them with the necessities of life. Guts were performed both as a symbolic blessing and as a form of supplication to these gods for this purpose.

* Editor's Personal Note: Gut is a ritual in which Heaven and Earth meet to harmonize the energy of the human world. People pray to try to resolve their bitterness [the Korean concept of han --- a people's historical, cultural, political, community all-encompassing sadness or bitterness about the situation of their lives] through Gut. Deities come and play with humans. People come together and become one, to gain the power to overcome challenges and difficulties facing them. Since Gut is a unique Korean word, it will be used in its Romanized Korean form (without translation) in this document.

8-1: Jeongjigut can be performed for the purification of the soil, the ground, or any physical space or place. In this context in which the Pungmul group is playing in the kitchen, the Jeongjigut is most likely for the purification of the kitchen floor, which in the old days, was an earthen floor. Still, in Musok (Korean Shamanism) there is much symbolism taking place in the performance of Gut, so the Jeongjigut could be for the ground or soil in general (for example).

8-2: The term Jodangjisin is actually a compound word referring to some god from the heavens and the god of the earth (Jisin). In Korean Shamanism, gods are often called upon in pairs - one from the heavens and one from the earth, very much like representing Yin and Yang. Heaven meeting the earth leads to harmony and intercourse, which leads to productivity, which leads to a good harvest, which is very important to an agriculture-based community.

8-3: The first line of Deokdam could be interpreted as saying to "push" the evil spirits in front of the higher-ranking kitchen god (to be punished or exorcised), since Jisinbalki is performed to get rid of the evil spirits. The second line is calling on everyone to awaken the god of the earth so that he can listen to them. Jisinbalpgi literally means "stepping on the spirit of the earth." When you continue to "step" on the spirit of the earth, you are sure to awaken that spirit. The third line, when referring to the "many" could be referring to the Minjung. The fourth line could be just praising the god, saying that everything is his, so that he will grant their request.

8-4: Blue Dragon god and god of the earth pair. Similar to the Jodangjisin remark, the Cheongnyong-jisin remark (the Blue Dragon god of the heavens ?the god of the earth pair) also refers to the meeting of heaven and earth. Please see the footnote of the previously mentioned Jodang-jisin for an explanation of the significance of this pairing.

8-5: Kkojang-ttijang is just a play on the words in these remarks --- a kind of poetic license being taken here.

8-6: The Pungmul group is making a hopeful remark about the future: "Look at all the calves tied in your barn!"

Since the mother-in-law is so "old," giving some liquor to her would be a waste of "effort." Since the daughter-in-law is so fine, giving some liquor to her would be embarrassing (the Pungmul players would be too shy to do that). Therefore, the liquor should be just for the Pungmul players, who were mostly, if not all, men at that time. Someone (the "worm") is coming below, so the Pungmul players have to get eating and drinking so the food and drink will be all for them and no one else.