Confucians Funeral Rituals during the mid-Joseon Dynasty Lee Mun Geon'Mourning beside His Mother's Grave

이문건 시묘살이를 통해 본 조선중기 유자(儒者)의 상례(喪禮) 고찰

  • 조은숙 (고려대학교 국어국문학과)
  • Received : 2016.09.13
  • Accepted : 2016.10.17
  • Published : 2016.10.31


This study investigates the funeral rituals practiced by the Joseon Dynasty as recorded about Lee Mun Geon (1494~1567, a.k.a Mukjae), who mourned by the grave of his deceased mother, Ms. Shin (1463~1535), a woman whose family's origin was Goryeon. The study focuse on the rituals performed by Lee after his mother's death, his participation in the funeral, and his mourning specifically as an individual who has lost his parent. Reviewing Lee's mourning life beside the grave, the contents of diary belonging to a nobleman in the middle of Joseon Dynasty were studied aimsing to find out the meaning of rituals, the overall recognition accorded to death, and the filial duties that were carried out by the noblemen of the time. Although noblemen in the middle of Joseon Dynasty ceaselessly attempted to change the observance of funeral rituals through legislation, it was difficult to change the mindset of the people, who fllowed the deep-rooted traditions of long history. It must be acknowledged that the Joseon Dynasty had a different cultural background than that of China. There was a fundamental problem when they tried to adapt The Family Rituals of Zhu Xi, followed by the Chinese, to the Joseon society. Although The Family Rituals of Zhu Xi emphasized ancestral rites focusing on enshrining mortuary tablets and the importance of establishing the family shrine hundred times, noblemen in the mid-Joseon Dynasty period cared for their parents in the grave by mourning for them than by following such practice. The solemn memorial service held in front of the grave, and the annual ritual service on the death anniversary were far more important to the noblemen in the mid-Joseon Dynasty. Amid such contradictions, the noblemen accepted and performed the mourning rituals beside the grave of their parent. Human beings across the ages have always dwelt upon thoughts of the afterlife. Most people believe that they attain a state after the death of their physicalbody. If humans did not have such thoughts, they would not be bothered if death occurs on being hit by a car on the street. Thus, human beings often think of the ritual services related to death, although in different forms. Therefore, mourning by the grave of their parent held great significance among the noblemen of the Joseon Dynasty as a sign of their filial piety.