The mask play of Hahoe Byeolsin

We purchased this from a local market in 2010.

The Hahoe mask dance is one of the folk dramas of Pungcheon Hahoe village in Andong city, and dates from the Goryeo Dynasty.

The mask dance drama has been performed for around for 8 centuries. The drama combines shaman rituals and popular entertainment and until 1928 had been performed at intervals of three, five or sometimes ten years, depending on the local circumstances. The ritual was intended to please the local goddess and exorcise evil spirits.

Traditionally every time the play was performed the whole village took part. During the ritual the villagers prayed for an abundant harvest and for peace and prosperity, all the while enjoying themselves performing the play.

The Hahoe mask dance differs from other tradition Korean rituals in it’s simpler costumes and more natural, flowing movements.

Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea

The South Korean government maintain a register of Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea. These include rituals dances, songs, etc that are core to traditional Korean culture. The first item on the register was added in 1960; Jongmyo jeryeak (the Jongmyo royal ancestral Confucian memorial ceremony music).

The mask play of Hahoe Byeolsin Exorcism was classified by the South Korean government as important intangible cultural asset #69. The Hahoe and Byeolsin masks themselves were also labelled South Korean national treasure #121.

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