May 1st, 2011
The big event for the day was the 종묘대제 Jongmyo Daeje ceremony. This ceremony is a Confucian ancestral right practiced by the Yi family (of the lineage of the kings of the Joseon Dynasty). In addition to being a giant spectacle with costumed Yi-descended men, musicians and dancers, it is also Intangible Cultural Asset #1 (the numbers are based on what got listed first), a group art, and therefore somewhat within my broad over-arching research into transmission in group arts. In fact this ceremony includes several very different lines of transmission: Jongmyo Jeraeak is the music of the ceremony- particularly special in that it is played on two orchestras in a configuration (and using instruments) that are unique to this ceremony. It is also Jongmyo Jerye or the ritual (including such skills as calligraphy and memorization of the order in which to offer various dishes and how they're arranged on the memorial table). Finally it includes a specific type of dance, or mumu. The ceremony began at 9:30. Karjam and I were in place, front row and took some photos. After becoming interested in another vantage point I managed to get invited into the press area and got excellent photos. The second part of the ceremony, at noon, was in a different courtyard, this time I managed to get us front row seats, and they were seats, not standing. When we got too hungry we left. Overall Karjam was very impressed and we both took a ton of photos (or in his case photos and video).