HAHOE PYOLSHIN-GUTT'AL-NORI (Hahoe Mask Dance Drama)
The story criticizesan arrogant aristocrat who brags of his noble birth, a pedantic scholar,and a depraved monk. It was said that if one did not have a chance to watch the mask dance peformed during one's life time, one could not go to heaven. Like most other folk mask dance dramas handed down in rural communities across Korea, Hahoe Pyolshin-gut T'al-nori features various allegorical characters such as Yangban (an aristocrat), Sonbi (a scholar), Chung (a Buddhist monk), Imae (a foolish person), Paekchong (a butcher) and so on. Each of these characters represents its social class in the village. Conflicts among different social classes and individuals were dramatized with humor and satire to remove grudges among individuals and their families.
other mask dances, this dance is peculiar in that the
movements used in the dance are less artificial and more
static, and the costumes of the characters are not rich
but modest and simple. In addition, the story of the
drama is satirical and humorous, but, after the play,
there is no enjoyment over the burning up the masks. The
dance is accompanied by nong-ak, a traditional Korean
farmers' band music. Nong-ak is Korea's most popular, and
probably oldest, traditional dance music. Originating in
ancient times, it is performed to celebrate important
rural events such as village sacrificial rites, rice
planting, and harvesting, as well as for enjoyment. With
the powerful sounds of drums and gongs pouring out in a
hypnotic beat, the percussion quartet of nong-ak is the
best-known Korean traditional ensemble. The instruments
used in the music include kwaenggwari
(a small gong), ching (a large gong), puk (a large drum), and changgo (a large and long drum).
occasions today, the mask dance drama is peformed simply
as an entertainment, losing much of its original splendor
and religious and social significance. The government
designated the dance drama as Important Intangible
Cultural Property No. 69 in 1980 for its preservation and
transmission to future generations. The Hahoe
Pyolshin-gut T'al-nori Preservation Society revived and
exclusively presents the mask dance drama, and does its
best to preserve the drama, to promote Korean culture,
and to introduce one of Korea's greatest intangible
treasures to the rest of the world.
In this act, a young lady (Kakshi)appears dancing on the shoulders of another performer and asks people to make offerings for their blessing and wealth. Kakshi is believed to be the personified local goddess, so she must not tread the ground but must always stay and dance on the shoulders of a man. This act is more a sacrificial rite than a play. By welcoming Kakshi, the personified local goddess, the people want to please the goddess. and pray for peace and an abundant harvest.
A pair of male and female lions appear, dance and fight each other. Then Ch'oraengi enters, chases them away and dances by himself for a while. This act sanctifies the place wherethe play is peformed by driving away demons and evil spirits. The female lion wins the fight, which symbolically means high productivity and promises an abundant harvest for the year.
A butcher (Paekchong) enters witha straw bag containing an axe and a knife and dances by himself. When he happens to see a big brown bull dance in, he dances with the bull, kills it with his axe and cuts out the bull's heart and testicles with his knife.He asks the spectators to buy the heart or the testicles, and dances again as no one tries to buy them. When it thunders, he gets frightened and runs away. The act satirizes the repressive attitudes of the ruling class towardsexual life, removing the sexual taboo. This causes the spectators to laugh and the butcher wins their sympathy.
An old widow (Halmi) appears witha white scarf around her head, carrying a hand loom. Her top and skirt do not quite meet, leaving her thin brown midriff bare. The granny became widowed only three days after her wedding at the age of fourteen. She weaves for a little while, gets up and asks spectators for a donation, bewailing her ill fortune, and dances by herself. The act symbolizes the conflicts between social classes by bewailing life's ill fortune.
Oh, my back! It's killing me. Listen,
folks. Have you ever seen a more wretched creature
than me? Widowed at fourteen, only three days after
the wedding. Poor little me. I've had to fend
for myself. Begging for food here, begging for work
there! Always hungry, often cold! Oh, I don't
know. I'll stop working and dance a bit.
(She dances around. Then she takes a gourd out and goes around begging for money and then exits.)
In the mountains. Pune appears performing a dance, looks around, squats down and then relieves herself, making sure that nobody is nearby. At that moment a wandering monk (Chung) watches her urinate, and is aroused by the sight. He dances with her. He runs away with her on his back and is seen by Ch'oraengi. This act criticizes religious corruption of the day.
An aristocrat (Yangban) and a scholar(Sonbi) appear and each takes pride in his knowledge and status. They are made fun of by Ch'oraengi, and lose face. Paekchong approaches the pair, asking them to buy the testicles of the bull. At first they think it would be indecent, but they then quarrel with each other about buying them when the butcher says the testicles strengthen their sexual energies. The granny (Halmi) enters again and criticizes their behavior with humor and satire, and then helps reconcile their differences. Ch'oraengi joins them, and all of them dance joyfully. When they are told that a tax collecter is coming, they all scatter around and exit in a panic. This act allows the ruling classes to reconsider their real place in society while the lower classes let off a little steam. The act is intended to alleviate conflicts between classes.
The place for a wedding ceremony is ready on a large straw mat. The bride and the groom face each other with a table (a drum used as one) in between. The aristocrat becomes the master of the wedding ceremony and marries Kakshi to the groom. The bride makes two ceremonial bows all the way to the floor and the groom does the same once.
After the wedding ceremony the wedding night scene is enacted on a straw mat which is supposed to be the bridal room. After some resistance from the bride, the marriage is consummated. The act is said to have been performed in the night. It is to please the ghost of a virgin who died before her wedding and became the village goddes.It is also a kind of fertility rite.
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