Pongsan Mask Dance

 

The Pongsan Mask Dance was popular in the Pongsan area of North Hwanghae Province.

From olden times mask dances had been danced once a year in market places in the area of Hwanghae Province, and Pongsan people danced the dance more frequently thanks to the locality’s favourable physiographical conditions. So the Pongsan mask dance developed into the one representative of the masque of Hwanghae Province from the late 19th century.

The masque was mainly played in the leisure season and on holidays. What is widely known is the one that consists of 12 scenes, and the masks used in the play number over ten including those of lion, aristocrat, monkey and so on.

To the tunes for an exorcism, ballad and Buddhist invocation played on national instruments such as the Korean flute, large fife, the Korean fiddle, janggo and drum, the dancers dance in their gorgeous attire such as white jacket and trousers, sleeveless jacket with red, blue and indigo colours, and sleeveless overcoat.

The dance is divided into the part with no dramatic plot, and the part of masquerade.

Before starting the masque, the dancers, headed by musicians, rushed towards the township in rows wearing masks.

When the sun sets, the dancers walk on a tightrope and do somersault before starting the masque. The play is keenly satirical in content, and contains plenty of unique dance movements. As a mixture of speeches, dance and singing each scene is characterised by colourful dances and witticisms. Especially, such movements as flinging and swinging wide sleeves in one of the dances to the tune of ballad are stirring and vigorous.

The dance reflects the people's aspiration to happiness and the spirit of resistance to the feudal ruling circles, and contains popular movements and thus it enjoys popularity and still spreads widely.

As a masterpiece of Korean folk dance the Pongsan Mask Dance was put as No. 28 on the list of the national intangible cultural heritage.

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