The Korea Herald


'Talchum' to take stage at Venice Carnival

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : Feb. 15, 2023 - 15:02

    • Link copied

Korean mask dance, Talchum, is performed at the Campo Santo Stefano in Venice, Italy, on Oct. 15, 2022. (K-tiful) Korean mask dance, Talchum, is performed at the Campo Santo Stefano in Venice, Italy, on Oct. 15, 2022. (K-tiful)

"Talchum," a Korean mask dance performance, will make its debut Friday at the Venice Carnival in Italy, the festival's organizing committee announced through its official website.

Known as one of the world's three major carnivals and the biggest festival in Italy, attracting over 3 million visitors each year, the two-week long Venice Carnival kicked off on Feb. 4, and will continue through Tuesday.

Talchum is a performing art that encompasses dance, music and theater, and is manifested through oral traditions, social practices and the traditional Korean craftsmanship of masks.

To better inform carnival guests of the performance schedule and the essence of the dance, the Venice Carnival described talchum as "a dark comedy that reveals social problems through satire and humor."

A total of 15 talchum performers, including members from the Andong Hahoe Byeolsingut Talnori Preservation Association, will hold an hour-long mask dance performance at San Marco Square in Venice, Italy.

The invitation extended to Korean talchum to perform in the esteemed festival is significant because one of the highlights of the Venice Carnival are the masquerade balls, which also involve traditional masks and costumes of Europe.

While the exact date of talchum’s origin is unknown, written records of the dance date back to the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC to 668 AD). Masquerades in Europe are known to have developed during the 13th century and took place during the carnival season.

This marks the first time for a Korean music performance group to be invited to the Venice Carnival, according to K-tiful, the Korean cultural organization hosting the event.

The organization led a talchum and samulnori performance in October at the Campo Santo Stefano in Venice, in front of an audience of thousands, as part of efforts to promote Korean traditional music to foreign audiences.

Talchum was designated as Korea's 22nd intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO on Nov. 30.