State Intangible Cultural Property No. 12 Jinju Geommu


Everlasting Legacies of Korea

State Intangible Cultural Property No. 12 Jinju Geommu +

Classification Intangible Cultural Heritage / Traditional Performing Arts / Dance
Designated date 1967.1.16
location Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do
Jinju Geommu is a sword dance performed by women and handed down in Jinju. Also called Geomgimu or Kalchum, it was one of the dances performed during a party held at the Royal Palace.

There are two theories about its origin, i.e., one about the Silla people who started dancing in memory of a boy who sacrificed his life for the country and the other about gisaeng (female entertainer) of Jinju engaging in dancing to console the spirit of Nongae, a gisaeng who jumped into the river clasping a Japanese officer during a party held at a pavilion on a riverside cliff during the Japanese invasion in the late 16th Century.

Jinju Geommu is played by a group of eight dancers in warrior’s uniform to the rhythms of dodeuri, slow taryeong (Korean folk song), and fast taryeong. Two rows of four people on each side dance facing each other, holding a sword and a piece of rainbow-striped cloth in their hands. Dancers’ movements include turning around with bent knees, sitting on the floor, bending forward and then backward, and stretching out the arms with the sword placed on the floor.

The dance is accompanied by the playing of piri (flute), jeo (bamboo flute), haegeum (two-stringed fiddle), janggo (hourglass-shaped drum), and buk (drum).

Jinju Geommu as we see today is one that was handed down among gisaeng who belonged to the local government of Jinju. The old ones were presumed to have served previously at the Royal Palace but returned home and taught the dance to the locals.

Jinju Geommu have artistic value as one that maintains the prototype of the sword dance performed at the Royal Palace in terms of style of performance, movements, and way the swords are handled.


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