|Revised Romanization||Seokjeon Daeje|
The Seokjeon Daeje, also sometimes called Seokjeonje, is a ceremonial rite performed twice annually to honor Confucius. It is held at Confucian sites across South Korea including hyanggyos and the Confucian temple Munmyo located at Sungkyunkwan, on Confucius' birthday in fall and the anniversary of his death in spring. Seokjeon is made up of the two Chinese characters, 釋 (to lay out) and 奠 (alcohol), and Seokjeon Daeje means "Laying out offerings ceremony". It involves an elaborate ceremony with sacrificial offerings of alcohol and foods, as well as an elaborate dance known as munmyo ilmu accompanied by musical performances munmyo jeryeak.
In 2011, Korea nominated the ceremony for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list; however, it did not satisfy the criteria for selection and UNESCO invited the Korean government to submit it again in the future with additional information. The ceremony is recognized in Korea as important intangible cultural heritage no.85.
The Seokjeon rite resembles a large-scale version of Jesa ancestral funerary rites.
(1) Entrance and preparation: Welcoming the honored spirits by way of the main gate and the spirit path (yeongsin). The master of music leads the musicians and dancers to their places. The usher escorts the Confucian scholars to their places. The usher conducts the reader of the invocation or ceremonial address and the deacons to their places. The reader and the deacons bow four times. The announcer requests that the first offerer opens the ceremony. Music is played by the Ground Orchestra, and the Civil Dance begins
(2) Offerings of Tribute and Sacrificial Food (jeonpyerye) to the spirits of Confucius and the Four Assessors. The first offerer kneels in front of the tablet of Confucius, burns incense three times, offers the sacrifices, and rises. The first offerer proceeds to the tablet of Tseng Tzu, kneels, burns incense three times, offers the sacrifice, and rises. The first offerer proceeds to the tablet of Mencius, kneels, burns incense three times, offers the sacrifice, and rises.
(3) First Wine Offering (choheon). The announcer escorts the first offerer to the wine table for the offering to Confucius. Attendants pour the wine from the cattle-shaped pitcher to the brass cup. They turn the wine cup over to the worshippers. They receive the wine cup and circle the wine cup three times above the smouldering fire.
(4) Music is played by the Terrace Orchestra and the Civil Dance begins. The first offerer offers wine, retreats a few steps, and kneels. The music and dance cease. The reader sits at the left of the first offerer, reads the invocation, and rises with the first offerer. The announcer escorts the first offerer back to his place. Music by the Terrace Orchestra and the Military Dance are performed. rituals at the Confucius shrine, or munmyo, the king's personal presence was not essential. The monarch would send high-ranking officials to honor the rites for Confucius.
(5) The Rite of the Secondary Wine Offering (aheon) The announcer escorts the second offerer to the basin to wash his hands and then to the wine table for offering to Confucius. The announcer escorts the second offerer back to his place.
(6) The Rite of the Final Wine Offering (jongheon) to Confucius and his four assessors, and to the other thirty-four spirits honored in the ceremony. The announcer escorts the last offerer to the basin to wash his hands and then to the wine table for offering to Confucius. Music by the Ground Orchestra and the Civil Dance begin. The last offerer proceeds to the tablet of Confucius, offers wine, and rises. He then proceeds to the wine table for the other four sages. The announcer escorts the last offerer back to his place. The announcer and usher escort the east and west assistant officers, respectively, to the basin to wash their hands, thrice burn incense, and offer wine to each of the eighteen Koreans dedicated on the east and west of the Great Master, as they rise.
Although Confucianism is generally considered an ethical and philosophical system rather than a religion, there are many spiritual aspects of the Seokjeon Daeje relying on belief in ancestral spirits.
The front gate of Munmyo, Sinsammun (spirit-three-gate), is kept closed except during ceremonies such as the Seokjeon Daeje and the Goyurae ceremony which is held for important events such as university graduations at SKKU, matriculation ceremonies, and inaugurations of new university presidents. The central entrance, usually reserved in royal palaces for kings, is intended only for the spirits of Confucius and his disciples. The path known as Yeongshin (spirit path) stretching from Sinsammun to Daeseongjeon is intended only for spirits, and visitors are prevented from crossing it during ceremonies by specially designated workers.
The Munmyo Ilmu dance is performed in a grid of 8X8 dancers clad in red robes. Dance steps are slow, deliberate, and solemn. Throughout the ceremony, different hats are worn and different tools are held. Dancers raise their arms to the heavens to welcome spirits to earth, repeating the steps while facing each compass direction. The dance has been performed by SKKU students in recent years.
To match the 64 dancers, there are 64 musicians playing a variety of percussion and woodwind instruments in a performance of munmyo jeryeak. The music is a type of Aak, punctuated by flat notes by striking a bell, which are maintained for several seconds before raising sharply at the end with the help of wood flutes.
The Seokjeon Daeje honors 39 historical figures of East Asia.
The Five Sages include Confucius and his four disciples:
Ten of the disciples of Confucius are also memorialized.
There are also 24 Men of Virtue, six from the Song Dynasty and 18 from Korea. The six Men of Virtue from Song are:
The 18 Men of Virtue from Korea are:
Musicians at a Seokjeon Daeje ceremony at Munmyo Shrine playing Hun
Musician with a bak
Musician playing a Chuk
Eo, a percussion instrument
Sinsammun is opened for Seokjeon ceremonies, allowing spirits to enter and follow the spirit path Yeongshin to the temple.