Saturday, February 28, 2015

Seollal at Jongmyo Shrine

Happy New Year! 

The Lunar New Year was celebrated on February 19th; it's also called Seollal here in Korea. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (or Goat), and is actually considered to be the year of bad luck! Fear not! To ward off the bad, you can wear red or purple, wear a piece of jade, or have carnations about.

Seollal is a time for honoring ancestors and enjoying time with family. It was also a perfect day for some more great sightseeing in Seoul, since much of the city vacates to outlying areas for the holiday.  We chose to visit Jongmyo Shrine.

Entrance was free for the holiday, so we walked right in and had to be careful to stay off of the spirit's center walk-way.

Jongmyo is a shrine where memorial ceremonies are held for deceased royalty and the stone tablets for each are contained in small rooms within the larger building.

The grounds are beautiful and very peaceful, even with this spooky looking tree.

The first area is named Jaegung and is where the royalty would prepare themselves for the ceremonies to honor their ancestors.

There were some great pieces on display: decorative folding screens, a portable throne, and an example of ceremony attire.

You'll notice that the roof and beam decor is little more sedate here, lacking all of the intricate patterns and colors of the royal palaces.

There was also an example of a simple palanquin, used to carry the king around the shrine.

We walked along the path (careful to not disturb the spirits, despite the spring mud) and found ourselves at the main hall, Jeongjeon.

Here there was a bit of color on the outer gate's decor:

The building inside the courtyard wall is very long, with 19 small rooms that house the sacred tablets.

We did find some interesting rooftop guardians here:

Right next door was another large building, similar in style and purpose, but with only 16 rooms: Yeongnyeongjeon.

We headed back towards the entrance and visited a building which housed items used during the memorial ceremonies.

Here is a snap shot of what the actual ceremony would look like, in full dress and with musicians.

Here is an example of the royal ritual tables (called jesang and junsang) used during the rites.

The spirit chamber and artifacts:

Replicas of the spirit tablets, housed in the shrine for each deceased royal.

We really enjoyed our short tour of the area, and it was wonderful that there were displays and captions for everything, so that we could get a real sense of what the shrine was used for.

Our day of sightseeing ended with a quick bite to eat at a nearby Mr. Pizza, where we opted to try something new.  Here's our yummy Potato Pizza, with potatoes, corn, onions, 
bacon, mushrooms, and some mayo dressing.  :)

Visitors can find the Jongmyo Shrine at:

Jongno-3(sam)-ga Station (Subway Lines 1, 3, or 5), Exit 11
It's a 10-min walk from the station - follow signs.

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