Saturday, December 10, 2005

What's does 남사당(男寺黨) mean?

남사당(男寺黨) is "an itinerate male entertainer," and a 남사당패(男寺黨牌) is "a troupe of itinerate male entertainers." Here is a drawing of a 남사당패 in action. Notice in the drawing that three 남사당 are doing a double (triple?) 무동서기. I talked about 무동 서다 here.

Here are the Chinese characters for 남사당:
  • (남) a man
  • (사) a Buddhist temple; (시) a eunuch
  • (당) a group

Looking at the Chinese characters, the literal meaning of 남사당 is "a male Buddhist temple group." Does that make sense? And, if the 사 was supposed to mean "eunuch," then the literal meaning would be "male eunuch group," which makes a little more sense, if you can accept that removing a guy's gonads makes sense. However, 사 can also mean "village," so maybe 남사당 originally meant "male village group"?

Another strange thing about 남사당 is that the 당() in 남사당 means "group," which means the word should mean "a group of itinerant male entertainers," instead of just "one entertainer." If that were the case, then it should be redundant to add 패() to the word since 패 also means "group."

While reading about 남사당, I learned the word 땅재주, which means "a somersault," "a handspring," or "a tumble." 땅재주 is a compound word. 땅 means "ground" and 재주 means "talent." Also, 모로 땅재주 is "a cartwheel." 모로 means "sideways."

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