Shaman(巫堂)

Shaman

Headword

무당 ( 巫堂 , Mudang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Concept

Writer SeoYoungdae(徐永大)

Mudang refers to shamans who officiate rituals and perform divination in Korean folk religion.

Shamans are also called beopsa in Chuncheong Province; dangol in Jeolla Province; and simbang on Jeju Island. A female shaman is called mansin; while a male shaman is called baksu, hwaraengi, nangjung or yangjungi. In ancient times, political leaders also played the role of officiants in services for worshiping the heavenly spirits, which is believed to be the origin of the shaman, as seen in the name Dangun, the founder of Gojoseon, the first kingdom on the Korean peninsula, and Chachaung, a title for the king of Silla, which, in meaning, all referred to shamans.

Korean shamans are categorized into two groups according to their initiation process. Gangsinmu, or possessed shaman, is designated by the spirits to enter the calling. Once the spiritual calling is confirmed, a possession ritual (naerimgut) is held to formally accept it, followed by a long period of training in ritual procedures and methods under one’s spiritual mother (sineomeoni) or spiritual father (sinabeoji). Shamans who have been initiated through the experience of possession are capable of making direct contact with the spirits when officiating rituals. Seseummu, or hereditary shaman, inherits the calling as a family trade, starting at an early age the training of necessary skills including song and dance. They do not experience possession either in the initiation stage or as an officiant, but focus on impressing the spirits with song and dance. While the former delivers the human perspective to the spirits through direct contact, the latter delivers the wishes of humans through performance.

Geographically, possessed shamans were more common north of the Han River, while hereditary shamans were more prevalent south of the Han. Jeju Island’s simbang can be categorized as hereditary shamans since the calling is inherited by blood ties, and they communicate with the spirits through divination and not possession, but there are also differences, including the emphasis of supernatural powers and a firm belief in the spirits. In the southern regions, including South Jeolla, myeongdu are fortunetellers who communicate with the ghosts of dead children, which makes them similar to possessed shamans, but they do not officiate shamanic rituals. Beopsa, of Chungcheong Province, officiate exorcism rituals by reciting the shamanic scriptures to the accompaniment of a drum and a gong, some of whom experience possession.

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Shaman

Shaman
Headword

무당 ( 巫堂 , Mudang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Concept

Writer SeoYoungdae(徐永大)

Mudang refers to shamans who officiate rituals and perform divination in Korean folk religion.

Shamans are also called beopsa in Chuncheong Province; dangol in Jeolla Province; and simbang on Jeju Island. A female shaman is called mansin; while a male shaman is called baksu, hwaraengi, nangjung or yangjungi. In ancient times, political leaders also played the role of officiants in services for worshiping the heavenly spirits, which is believed to be the origin of the shaman, as seen in the name Dangun, the founder of Gojoseon, the first kingdom on the Korean peninsula, and Chachaung, a title for the king of Silla, which, in meaning, all referred to shamans.

Korean shamans are categorized into two groups according to their initiation process. Gangsinmu, or possessed shaman, is designated by the spirits to enter the calling. Once the spiritual calling is confirmed, a possession ritual (naerimgut) is held to formally accept it, followed by a long period of training in ritual procedures and methods under one’s spiritual mother (sineomeoni) or spiritual father (sinabeoji). Shamans who have been initiated through the experience of possession are capable of making direct contact with the spirits when officiating rituals. Seseummu, or hereditary shaman, inherits the calling as a family trade, starting at an early age the training of necessary skills including song and dance. They do not experience possession either in the initiation stage or as an officiant, but focus on impressing the spirits with song and dance. While the former delivers the human perspective to the spirits through direct contact, the latter delivers the wishes of humans through performance.

Geographically, possessed shamans were more common north of the Han River, while hereditary shamans were more prevalent south of the Han. Jeju Island’s simbang can be categorized as hereditary shamans since the calling is inherited by blood ties, and they communicate with the spirits through divination and not possession, but there are also differences, including the emphasis of supernatural powers and a firm belief in the spirits. In the southern regions, including South Jeolla, myeongdu are fortunetellers who communicate with the ghosts of dead children, which makes them similar to possessed shamans, but they do not officiate shamanic rituals. Beopsa, of Chungcheong Province, officiate exorcism rituals by reciting the shamanic scriptures to the accompaniment of a drum and a gong, some of whom experience possession.