Jeju Island’s Deities 2: “The Yowang” Jeju Island’s Grandfather God of the Sea

IMG_9221_01 copy The Yowang (‘Sea God’ or ‘Sea King’) is one of the most commonly worshipped deities on Jeju Island. Women divers, whose profession is a perilous one, and fishermen alike, honor the god at shrines across the island. The Yowang is both worshipped at shrines and in Buddhist rituals. Shamans perform the ‘Yowang Maji’ (the greeting of the Sea God) at the closing of the Youngdeung Grandmother and Grandfather rituals. The Yowang is feted typically with similar offerings you’d find on a table at ancestral worship ceremonies, but of particular importance are offerings of rice called ‘ji’ which are tossed into the sea as part of a special procession. Below, female members of the community walk together across one of Jeju’s basalt expanses to great the god. 11 IMG_9236

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‘Ji’ are offerings made to the Yowang. Each packet of rice is an offering for a unique family member.

Divers pray to the Yowang regularly to protect themselves and their families from harm and to ensure a good catch. The act of offering ‘ji’ brings the individual into direct interaction with the Yowang.

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Tossing ‘ji’ offerings into the sea.

13 IMG_9261_01 A book trailer from my photobook on Jeju Island’s shrines features the Buddhist Yowang Ceremony.

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Women gather to worship the Yowang at the close of  a shrine ceremony held in honor of the Youngdeung Grandfather God.
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A rooster is carried out to the shore for sacrifice by the leader of the women diver’s group.
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Making offerings of rice and egg to the Yowang God.
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Diving is treacherous work for Jeju’s rural female population. Their faith plays an important role in their lives.

If you enjoyed this post, check out Jeju Island’s Deities #1: Kameungjangagi Goddess of Fate

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