‘Jangseung’,
guardians protecting their village from all evil

 

A jangseung or village guardian is a Korean totem pole usually made of wood. Jangseungs were traditionally placed at the edges of villages to mark village boundaries and frighten away demons.

 

  • Guards from disasters and brings good luck

In many parts of Korea there are jangseung still placed in the entrance of villages. Although nowadays it is more of a monumental figure, still many people like to believe that janseung guards the village from disasters and brings them good luck. In Korean households, jangseung figures are mostly placed in the entrance of their homes for home decoration purposes and in the obvious sense that jangseungs were historically placed in the entrance of villages.

In Seoul, 18th century Joseon Dynasty King Jeongjo ordered jangseungs erected in the area near Sangdo to ward off evil spirits when he made a royal procession to Suwon, where his father’s tomb was located. Since then, the district has been called Jangseungbaegi and has given its name to the Jangseungbaegi Station on the Seoul Metropolitan Subway’s Line 7.

 

 

  • Rough, intimidating, but also familiar expressions

Since jangseung were made in virtually every village in the past, it is no surprise that the carved design for every jangseung differ in some aspects. Nonetheless the interestingly common aspect of all jangseung is that it embraces many expressions and emotions in one face. The face of jangseung look frightening and funny at the same time. It is rough and intimidating but also beautiful. Experts say the expressions and emotions that jangseung hold, resemble the life of their makers, the Korean people.

Jangseungs are usually adorned with inscriptions describing the personae of the carved figures along the front of the poles. “Male” jangseungs usually bear inscriptions in Hangul or Hanja(Chinese words) reading “Great General of All Under Heaven,” or Cheonha-daejanggun (Hangul: 천하대장군, Hanja: 天下大將軍) and are decorated with headpieces resembling those worn by Korean aristocrats or scholars. “Female” jangseungs, on the other hand, wear less elaborate headpieces and usually bear inscriptions reading “Female General of the Underworld,” or Jiha-yeojanggun (Hangul: 지하여장군, Hanja: 地下女將軍) or “Great General of the Underworld,” or Jiha-daejanggun (Hangul: 지하대장군, Hanja: 地下大將軍).

 

<Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jangseung>

September 24, 2014 by KOREAN ESSENTIALS

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