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  • Pan ch'inyŏng Wedding Rites, Residential Rules, and the Status of Women in Sixteenth-Century Chosŏn:An Analysis Based on Miam-ilgi, the Diary of Yu Hŭi-ch'un
  • Mee Hae Park
Abstract

This study focuses on wedding rites, residential rules, and the status of women in the mid-Chosŏn dynasty. Based on Miam-ilgi [inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" xlink:href="01i" /], a diary of Yu Hŭi-ch'un [inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" xlink:href="02i" /], a famous sixteenth-century Korean Confucian scholar, the marriage of his grandson Kwang-sŏn [inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" xlink:href="03i" /] is examined. The nuptial procedure consisted of the discussion of marriage, the sending of presents to the bridal house, and finally the ceremony itself, nominally called pan ch'inyŏng [inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" xlink:href="04i" /]. In the wedding described in the diary, the bride continued to live in her natal home while the bridegroom alternated between residing at his and his in-laws' home. Despite the fact that it was a departure from the strict patrilocality advocated by Confucian principles, the diary makes it clear that even Yu Hŭi-ch'un retained some characteristics of the traditional customs. The bridegroom's stay with his paternal grandfather implies the significance of socioeconomic factors and the experience necessary to serve as the successor of the Yu family. This article argues that the characteristics of pan ch'inyŏng wedding and variations in the practices thereof is evidence of the flexibility of marriage procedures, residential patterns, and the status of women within a patrilineal society.

Introduction

Rituals are symbolic expressions of culturally standardized languages and behaviors; therefore, they are important in understanding a given society. Marriage rituals of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910) were not only a private issue concerning two families who wanted to maintain their social status1 but a national matter for which the law regulated the marriageable age and penalized heads of households for having eligible, unwed household members.2 An examination of changes in wedding rituals during the Chosŏn dynasty, specifically pan ch'inyŏng, a reluctant compromise between traditional Korean and imposed Confucian residential patterns, reveals not only a strong concern among the elites who wanted to recast marriage rites in the Chinese style, but also a [End Page 39] deep resistance of traditional culture toward the adoption of Confucianism.3 The literal translation of the term pan ch'inyŏng is half of ch'inyŏng, which is characterized as one of the procedures of Chinese wedding rites. Among the four rites—coming of age ceremony, wedding, mourning, and ancestor worship—weddings were the last and least Confucianized rite.4 Therefore, examining wedding rites in the mid-Chosŏn period will help us to understand the process and limitations of the indoctrination of Confucianism into Korean social customs.

Ch'inyŏng: Confucian, Chinese Wedding

The ruling elites of the early Chosŏn dynasty pressed ahead to establish Chu Hsi's Chia-li as the social norm, even though they were aware of the persistence of traditional wedding customs and the practical difficulties of ritual innovation.5 Confucian-style wedding procedures outlined in Chia-li were carried out in the following order: marriage proposal (ŭihon), betrothal (napch'ae), which could include the sending of wedding gifts (napp'ye), bridegroom meeting the bride in person and inducting her into his home (ch'inyŏng), presentation of the bride to the parents-in-law (kyŏn'gugoye,), and presentation of the bride in the ancestral temple (myogyŏn).6

In this procedure, ch'inyŏng represented the transfer of the bride's residence from her natal home to the bridegroom's household. The social elite of the early dynasty claimed that the tradition of staying at the bridal house subordinated men to women and therefore needed to be changed to the patrilocal practice of ch'inyŏng, the Confucian wedding style.7 The indigenous Korean wedding customs were opposed by the Confucian model, which advocated that the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 39-62
Launched on MUSE
2008-03-20
Open Access
No
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