Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jongmyo Royal Ancestral Rite

On the first Sunday of May every year, the Jongmyo Daeje, or Royal Ancestral Rite, takes place at the Jongmyo Shrine in Seoul. It is here that the spirit tablets of the Joseon kings and queens are enshrined.

Throughout the Joseon Dynasty(1392-1910) the rites featured elaborate music and dance with the intention of appeasing the souls of deceased rulers, so as to bring peace and prosperity to the country. They were also held when there were important matters of state and court and throughout the year as well, to help bring about a bountiful harvest.

Jongmyo Royal Ancestral Rite

The shrine itself was completed in 1395 after King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty moved the capital from Kaeseong to Hanyang(Seoul). Throughout it's history it has been expanded and altered to accommodate the new kings and queens and the main hall, known as Jeongjon, currently has 19 rooms housing a total of 49 tablets.

During the Japanese invasions between 1592-1598, the original structures were burnt down. The present structures were constructed in 1608, and in 1995 the complex was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For all the photos click here.