National Theater Okinawa introduce cultures from Miyako and Korea for its 10th anniversary

National Theater Okinawa introduce cultures from Miyako and Korea for its 10th anniversary

"Gil-tak-gum" is performed to send off the dead to the afterlife. At the National Theater Okinawa.


December 17, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The National Theater Okinawa held its 10th anniversary special performance “Sacred Songs from Miyako and Chindo Ssit-kkim-gut from Korea” and introduced contrasting folk cultures. While Miyako’s sacred songs are simply performed only with songs, performers of Ssit-kkim-gut play instruments loudly to arouse emotions.

The joint performance was made possible after the Theater invited Tsukasanma, women who administer Okinawan traditional rituals, from Sarahama of Irabu Island, to participate in an inspection trip at the International Symposium on Safeguarding Asian Shaman Heritage, which was held last November in South Korea.

<em>Tsukasanma</em> sing sacred songs

Former Tsukasanma, Chiyomi Yogi, Kunie Nagasaki, and Toshimi Uehara performed at the 10th anniversary performance. They sang a special song “Oyoshi” to communicate with spirits. Usually, ordinary people are not allowed to listen to the song. They continued with “Oyoshi Nanamui,” a song to worship the god of Nanamui(Uharuzu Utaki), and “Oyoshi Maukan,” a guardian song for traveling. The performance brought a sacred mood to the audience.

Ssit-kkim-gut is a ceremony to send off the spirits of the dead. Song Soon-dan, Park Mi-ok, Gang Eun-young, and Song Young-in, who are traditional Korean priestesses called Tanggol, together with eight other musicians performed. Using traditional instruments such as a roped drum called Janggu and a string instrument called Ajaeng, performers presented moving Tangool songs and captivated the audience. Performances included “Kopuri,” which is a ritual to disconnect the spirit of the dead by undoing a knot of white cloth, and “Gil-tag-kum,” in which performers act out sending the dead on a boat called Banya-yongseon, symbolizing the passage to the afterlife.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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