Before I jump into showing you the pics from our trip to Andong, let’s backtrack and check out why Andong has one of the biggest festivals in Korea. Andong, after all, holds the largest cultural properties in Soko. Just an hour away, Andong was a great place to check out for the day and furthermore it was a great way to explore more of Korean culture. But first, let’s talk about Hahoe Folk Village.
Andong’s Hahoe Folk Village (안동하회마을) is famous for preserving the Korean culture because of its remaining Joseon-era architecture and traditions. Hahoe means “circle of water”, which reflects the shape the village has of a lotus flower.
The village gained fame from its traditional masks (탈 Tal) that they used in their shamanistic rituals. These masks were considered spiritual pieces. They were used in the Hahoe Byeolsin Gut Mask Drama, a sort of exorcism play. Actors were said to offer a sacrifice before the chest housing the masks whenever the masks were removed or returned to storage. It is still reported that in the “Mask Play” a mask is so spiritual that it laughs by itself after a performer wearing it laughs and get angry after the performer gets angry. For more historical info, check out the museum page.
The only mask in Korea that is designated as a national treasure is the hahoe mask (하회탈), that is used in the performance. Originally there were twelve human and two animal masks made of alder wood. Three of the human masks have been lost, and eleven masks remain today. While the exact dates are unknown, the masks were probably produced in the 11th or 12th centuries. After the performances were complete, all of the masks were gathered for safe keeping. It was considered taboo to be too close to the masks during daily life. This aided in their preservation.
According to legend, they were first made by a skilled young carver named Heo Doryeong (허도령), who lived in Hahoe Village. A divine deity instructed him to create masks in strict isolation. He was not to see anyone or speak to anyone until he was finished. However, there was a girl who was passionately in love with him. She could not stay away and sneaked to his workshop to spy on the young man. At the time, the young carver was up to his last mask. He was about to place the movable chin on the mask of the Imae (이매, the fool) when the girl saw him through the peep-hole she had created on his paper window. Immediately, Heo started to spew out blood and died before he could finish the mask. This is the reason the Imae is the only one with half a face.
The BFF and I headed to Andong for the Mask Festival, along with Michelle (Jodi’s college friend who lives near Seoul), and to meet up with Kyle, a friend from our Thailand adventure. It wasn’t just Korean culture we were experiencing, but international mask making cultures as well. For more on the actual performances, check this person’s pics from 2010, they are amazing!
The festival was just amazing! It was so big and had something for everyone. We got to make some masks (even though we were the only adults amid the children haha) and it was just great to spend the day soaking in some traditional culture. Which included having an ajossi (old Korean man) feed us (literally sticking food in my mouth) and give us alcohol haha. But let the pics and vid speak for themselves ^^
Music: "우리집 싱어" by 이아립 (Arim Lee)