|The Structure of Jongmyo
Jongmyo was one of the two top national ceremonies to symbolize the dynasty and kings personally observed the services. The other is Sajikdan, where kings prayed to various gods for national security and bumper farm crops for the people. That is why Jongmyo was designated by UNESCO in 1995 as world cultural heritage. Considering its location and direction, we could see that Jongmyo followed the ritual formalities of China's Chou dynasty, but many adjustments were made in locating various buildings and in its surroundings.
A stone fence is erected by the square around Jeongjeon, and the tile-roofed high fence makes the appearance of Jeongjeon more solemn and magnificent. The compound of Jeongjeon has three gates. Among them, the South Gate is for the passage of spirits, and officiants or other attendants cannot use this gate. The East Gate is for the King and officiants, and the West Gate for musicians and dancers. Entering the South Gate, leads a black-grey elevated passage called Sinro (spirit pathway) and ordinary citizens are not allowed to use this passage. Between the stairways from the lower terrace to the upper terrace on the east end is a pathway called Eoro used by the King.
On the upper terrace are three stairways: one on the east is for Heongwans and the center one is for the spirits and connects with the spirit chamber. The interior structure of each spirit chamber in Jeongjeon puts emphasis on extreme simplicity, and this simplicity, repeated time and again, appears to have contributed to the ultimate beauty and magnificense of the main shrine building of Jongmyo. This is the characteristics of Jongmyo, rarely found in other buildings.
Made of seamless boards, each chamber of the main shrine keeps the spirit tablets of kings and their queens, the very center of Jongmyo. The chestnut tablet is 13.5 centmeters wide and 27.9 centimeters high, with the tablet of the king sitting on the west and that of the queen on the east. Although Jeongjeon represents a majestic beauty, inside of each chamber is simple with no ornaments.