Sunday, October 18, 2009

Korean Young San ceremony

Paloma Esquivel (LA Times, Oct. 19, 2009)
Monks of South Korea's Young San Preservation Group perform pomp'ae -- sacred, melodic chants punctuated by gongs and drums, a ritual performance almost lost under restrictions imposed during Japanese colonialism (LA Times/Christina House).

It begins on a darkened stage. Someone chants. The sound of water flows from speakers. The lights come up slowly in imitation of dawn. A gong sounds, and five monks walk in procession onto the stage. The first one carries a candle and stops in front of an altar and an image of the Buddha. The others stand behind him. In quick succession they kneel and stand, kneel and stand. The ritual, performed by South Korea's Young San Preservation Group at the Irvine Barclay Theatre this month, is meant to awaken the forces of the natural world. On stage, it was a sacred ceremony condensed -- a five-minute greeting for the day. In their 80-minute version of the Young San ritual, the group's eight monks performed traditional dances known as chakpop and music known as pomp'ae -- unwritten chants learned by ear and recited from memory. More>>