Jongmyo Jerye

Jongmyo Royal Ancestor Shrine
Seoul, Korea

The Jerye (ancestor rite) at Jongmyo shrine is considered a masterpiece of intangible cultural heritage. The Confucian rite was established to honor the royal ancestors. Imported from the Chinese court at the beginning of the Joseon period, it was reconstructed for a present day revival (for example, an officiant now substitutes for the Joseon king, who used to celebrate this rite in person as the lineage head). During the ritual, wine and food are offered to the ancestral spirits, who are entertained with music (Jerye-ak) and dance (ilmu). The officiants in this photo, identified by their grey robes, are all members of the Lee (or Yi) clan of the Joseon kings. It is their ancestors that the Jongmyo rite celebrates. For additional information and video, see Jongmyo Daeje on the website.