TRADITIONAL KOREAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AND GARMENTS

Music is born with man. It is a universal language, for everybody can feel and enjoy it, regardless of the country in which one lives.

All countries have their traditional musical instruments. In Greek mythology the lyre was played by Apollo, who drove his chariot playing the lyre. However, the most ancient musical instrument is human voice, for music is the language of the soul.

A few days ago, we went to an exhibition of traditional Korean art. We saw two string instruments: one, called gayaguem has twelve strings, the other, called geomungo has six strings. I think it is difficult to play them.

They also exhibited Hanbok, traditional Korean clothing to be worn on formal and semi-formal occasions.

Clothing is also an art and expression of one’s personality!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE TIME OF MOURNING IN OLD SICILY

After the funeral we had a tasty dinner. For eight days we were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner by our close friends. All the families gathered around the table. In Enna, you could not make the time of mourning at your will. It had to last eight days. During this time, besides being served delicious food by our relatives and close friends, we received visits from our neighbors and acquaintances.

The food we received was more delicious than anything I had ever eaten before—so much so that a doubt arose in my mind: “Is this a time for mourning or a party?”

After eating, we returned to the double bedroom to show our grief as the visitors came in little by little. I sat next to my mother and observed the scene. The visitors entered the room and gave condolences to the family members, starting with my grandmother, and then they sat on the chairs scattered across the room and remained silent or talked with some of the family members.

Every family member was dressed in black. As soon as a new visitor came in, my mother and Aunt Carolina put a sad expression on their faces. Then they started chatting with the newcomers. While they chatted their faces were quite relaxed, but whenever a new visitor came in, they stopped chatting right away and took on a sorrowful look. In fact, it was mandatory to show a contrite face; otherwise folks might think they didn’t mourn the loss of their father…

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

AN EDUCATIVE SICILIAN PROVERB

The proverb is this:

Quannu a fortuna nun ti dici, iettiti ‘nterra e accampa fafaluci

When luck is not on your side, you had better go to the countryside and pick up snails.

Do good and bad luck exist or are they just illusions? We don’t know. However, if there is a proverb about fortune, it means that countless past generations have come into contact with both good and bad luck.

What to do in case of persistent hard luck? According to popular Sicilian wisdom, instead of fighting against hard luck, we had better give up our aims, at least temporarily. Instead, we should go to the countryside, look for snails, and collect them. In this case we would do something useful, instead of wasting energy to fight against bad luck.

Snails are a delicious food. Assuming one knows how to cook them!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

DEAD LEAVES

Everyone has a unique history and a special life. Some people— prophets, great philosophers, musicians, artists, kings, heroes, and so on—have left a mark on the history books. Good or evil, those who have stood out are remembered by posterity; people like Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and others. At their demise, the lives of ordinary people are like dead leaves swept away by the wind when fall arrives. They sink into oblivion, as history pays them no mind. In addition to the history of individuals, there is that of nations, but no book can include the biographies of all the people who formed the nations of the world.

In Greek mythology, the Fates, three ladies dressed in white, symbolized man’s fate. The first, Clotho, spun the thread of life on her spindle; the second, Lachesis, measured its length by her rod; the third, called Atropos, cut the thread of life at her will. Nobody was able to oppose them. Even almighty Zeus was powerless against the Fates; he was unable to change a person’s fate even if he strongly wished it…

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

SYMBOLS IN A BUDDHIST TEMPLE

Near the Regional Garden in Gyeongju, the old capital of Korea, there is a Buddhist temple decked with statues of Buddha and symbols. My attention was drawn to two footprints with enigmatic figures.

A plump monk in his seventies stood in the yard of the temple. I motioned him to come closer. He was very kind, cheerful, and satisfied my curiosity.

He said, “While traveling to India, I stumbled upon these footprints and took the cast. Then, I reproduced them in the yard of this temple.”

“Could you tell me the meaning of the symbols carved on the feet?” I asked.

He replied: “Fish never close their eyes. It denotes how important alertness and mindfulness is; the wheel represents the cycle of life: birth, life, death, and rebirth; the lotus flower thrives in muddy and stagnant water, however it doesn’t merge with the mud. This means that although we live a worldly life, we shouldn’t merge with worldliness, but we should be free to follow our own spiritual path. As for the other symbols, open you heart, and then you’ll understand the meaning.”

I left the temple, shaking hands with the monk. Once again, by traveling, I have learned something new!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A KOREAN LEGEND ABOUT FORBIDDEN LOVE

Gyeongju is the old capital of Korea. This city, a World Heritage Site, thrived under Silla dynasty. It is renowned for the Royal Tombs and the remains of old palaces and temples.

We walked in the woods and came across a legendary pond. A friend of us told us a legend connected to it.

She said, “One day, Silla’s King Soji went out of his palace and met a rat that told him to follow a crow. King Soji followed the bird and was led to this pond. Once here, he met an old man that gave him a letter urging him to get back to the royal palace and shoot a case of geomungo (a traditional Korean musical instrument) with an arrow. The king did so and found that a Buddhist monk and a woman of high rank were hiding inside the case. They both had been shot to death. Obviously, they were making love illegally.”

At the time, the illicit lovers were not numerous. If King Soji lived now, he wouldn’t have enough arrows to hit them all!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE CLOCK OF LIFE

In some parks in Daegu, Korea, there are devices that measure the quality of the air we breathe, and electronic clocks that mark the hours, minutes, and seconds with precision.

Our lifetime is also marked by the clock. It works uninterruptedly, but sooner or later it will stop, for we are limited beings! Therefore, what is the best way to live our transient life? The great Florentine patron, Lorenzo dei Medici (1449 – 1482) wrote this poem about life, from which I have extracted a few lines:

Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna

Quant’è bella giovinezza,
che si fugge tuttavia!
Chi vuol esser lieto, sia:
di doman non c’è certezza.
… Ciascun apra ben gli orecchi,
di doman nessun si paschi;
oggi siam, giovani e vecchi,
lieti ognun, femmine e maschi;
ogni tristo pensier caschi:
facciam festa tuttavia.…

Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne

How beautiful is youth,

Yet fleeting!

Let people enjoy their lives;

Tomorrow is not certain.

Everybody should open his ears,

And not live in the future.

Today we are, young and old,

male and female, all happy;

Let every sad thought fall away,

And celebrate life…

Yes, Lorenzo dei Medici is right. Well-being lies in living life here and now!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

CHRYSANTHEMUMS IN ITALY AND IN KOREA

Yesterday, we went to the chrysanthemum festival in Daegu, Korea. The botanical gardens were swarming with visitors. The flower beds and floral figures were adorned with multicolored chrysanthemums.

In Korea the chrysanthemum is considered a flower to be given in various occasions. The Koreans see it as a flower that conveys happiness and love. If you give a bouquet of chrysanthemums or even a single chrysanthemum to your beloved one, she will be delighted. A Korean friend of mine showed me the pictures of the chrysanthemums that a neighbor had given her from her garden.

If you live in Italy, never do that! In fact, the Italians associate this beautiful flower with death. We use chrysanthemums just to make wreaths for funerals and to deck the tombs and graves in the cemeteries on November 2, the Day of the Dead.

When in Rome do as the Romans do! If you do not know the culture of the country, give roses as a gift. However, the most beautiful flower is the one you keep in your heart. Give that flower, and you will not be wrong, for its fragrance and love will delight everyone you come across!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

SYMBOLS IN BUDDHIST TEMPLES AND IN SICILY

Along the street that leads to Duryu Park, in Daegu, Korea, a beautiful Buddhist temple shows these symbols: the ‘Swastika’; the ‘Three Buddhas’; the ‘Laughing Buddha’.

The swastika is a very ancient symbol. It can be found all over the world since time immemorial. If you have the chance to come to Sicily, go and visit the Villa Romana del Casale, in Piazza Armerina, dating back to almost two thousand years ago. Looking closely at the mosaics that depict scenes from Greek myths, you will see a swastika. It was considered a symbol of good luck. Hitler made from it the flag of his regime, but he rotated the swastika a bit. Apparently, the rotation of the symbol didn’t bring him good luck.

The ‘Three Buddhas’ symbolize the proper attitude toward evil. You should neither listen, nor speak, nor hear anything that is bad.

Finally, the ‘Laughing Buddha’ means not to be too serious in life and to avoid extremes. To live well, just laugh and be grateful for life. It is a way to get enlightenment!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

AUTUMN COLORS IN KOREA

For those who love nature and beautiful landscapes, autumn is the best season to visit Korea.

What I enjoy most is climbing Palgong Mountain up to Gatbawi Buddha. On the peak, a Buddha statue stands peacefully. This Buddha wears a traditional Korean hat called ‘Gat’ in Korean, and is well-known for answering believers’ prayers. It is said that a monk made the statue to appease his mother’s soul.

Another place I usually visit in autumn is Haeinsa. There is a seven kilometers trail leading to the temple from the bus stop. In some stretches, the path runs along a stream. As we were walking along it, I took some pictures. However, the photos can not fully describe the romantic atmosphere of the place, the vivid multicolored falling leaves, and the murmur of the water that flows from the mountain and forms little ponds here and there.

Finally, we arrived at Haeinsa after walking for three hours. This temple is a World Heritage Site, for it keeps Printing Woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana. Buddha’s sutras were engraved on wood blocks to protect the country from the invasion of Mongolia. And then, they were printed and spread.

While walking to the temple, we enjoyed the beautiful autumn landscape, especially the autumn yellow and red leaves in the trees. There were a lot of fallen leaves on the ground. They are metaphor for human life. Leaves sprout, become green, then they change color, wither, and fall off the branches. Human life is like that. The cycle of life!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo