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Painting of Shamanic Deity

Musindo is the painting of a deity worshipped by a shaman. Such paintings are also called muhwa (shamanic painting) or hwabun, and are hung in the personal shrines of possessed shamans (gangsinmu) or in village shrines. Musindo takes up great significance in shamanic practice and all possessed shamans enshrine paintings of deities that have descended upon them. They are generally individual paintings, painted in color on paper or silk. The oldest remaining musindo in Korea are the paintings in t

Korean Folk Beliefs

Shaman Ancestor Goddess

Mujosin is a deity believed to be an ancestor or progenitor of a shaman. In Korean folk religion, various gods and figures are worshipped as a shaman’s ancestor, including Beobuhwasang (Monk Beobu), from popular legends, and Barigongju (Princess Bari), Gyemyeonhalmeoni (Grandmother Gyemyeon), Ssangdungi Samhyeongjesin (Triplets Deity) and Yujeongseungttal (Minister Yu’s Daughter), from the shamanic tradition. The legend of Monk Beobu is the story of the monk who weds the human incarnations of Se

Korean Folk Beliefs

Origin of Jijang

The shamanic myth“Jijangbonpuri”narrates the origins of Jijang, a goddess who possesses the power of the death curse (sal) and also the capacity to save the souls of haunted spirits and guide them to the underworld. Husband and wife Namsan and Yeosan possessed immense wealth but were unable to conceive until late in life when they made a huge donation to the temple and offered prayers to Buddha with food to appease the souls of all creatures on land and at sea (wonbulsuryuk) and finally gave bir

Korean Folk Literature

Origin of Shaman Ancestor Goddess Chogong

“Chogongbonpuri”is the myth of the origin of shaman ancestor goddess Chogong, recited as part of keungut (grand ritual) on Jeju Island. The following is a summarization of the narrative, the first section of which refers to a version recited by the shaman An Sa-in, and the section about the goddess Yujeongseungttanimagi (Minister Yu’s Daughter) to a version by Yi Jung-chun: Daegam (State Official) from the kingdom of Imjeongguk under heaven and Buin (Lady) from the kingdom of Gimjinguk of the un

Korean Folk Literature

Origin of Smallpox Goddess Manura

The shamanic myth“Manurabonpuri”from Jeju Island, recited as part of the island’s keungut, or grand rituals, narrates the origins of Manurasin, the goddess of smallpox, which was very common among children, and greatly feared due to the socially debilitating effects of the pockmarks that the disease left behind. The following is a version of the myth as recited by shaman An Sa-in: One day, the goddess of childbirth Saengbulhalmang (Samsinhalmeoni) crossed the bridge at Seocheongang, the river fl

Korean Folk Literature

Mother Reincarnated as a Dog

This tale narrates the story of a mother who dies after living a hard-working life, never taking the time to see the world, and as a punishment, is reborn as a dog. When her son learns of this, he carries the dog on his back all around the country to show her what she has missed. A woman who did nothing but housework all her life, never taking time off to see the world, died and arrived at the underworld, where she was admonished for doing nothing but work and sent back to the world of the livin

Korean Folk Literature

Shamanic Ritual for Wind God

Yeongdeunggut is a shamanic ritual held between the first and the fourteenth day of the second lunar month at village shrines in the coastal parts of Jeju Island, to greet the wind god Yeongdeung and pray for safety at sea and a big catch, not only for fishermen but also for the island’s women divers who gather conch, abalone and sea mustard. On Jeju Island, the second lunar month marks the arrival of the wind goddess Yeongdeunghalmang as the season shifts from winter to spring, thus it is refer

Korean Folk Beliefs

Chilseok Sacrificial Rite

In the past on Chilseok, the festival held on the seventh of the seventh lunar month, Korean people performed sacrificial rites known as gosa (Kor. 고사, Chin. 告祀, sacrificial rite), Chilseok gosa (Kor. 칠석고사, Chin. 七夕告祀, lit. seventh evening sacrificial rite), Chilseok maji (Kor. 칠석맞이, Chin. 七夕-, lit. welcoming the seventh evening), Chilseok bulgong (Kor. 칠석불공, Chin. 七夕佛供, lit. offering to Buddha on the seventh evening), and Chilseong gosa (Kor. 칠성고사, Chin. 七星告祀, lit. sacrificial rite to seven sta

Korean Seasonal Customs

Abolition of Goryeo Burial

This tale explains how the practice of goryeojang was abolished. Goryeojang refers to the practice of carrying away the elderly when they reach a certain age and abandoning them in the mountains or plains and there are two folk narratives transmitted in relation to the abolition of this practice. The first defines goryeojang as the ancient practice of abandoning those over sixty, leaving them to die. Once there was a man who carried his elderly father (or mother) on his back on a wooden carrier

Korean Folk Literature

Shamanic Mythology

Musoksinhwa, or shamanic mythology, refer to myths recited by shamans as part of shamanic rituals. The term bonpuri is also used to refer to this genre. In ancient Korea, celestial god worship rites and state ancestral worship rites were all observed as shamanic rituals. The former includes Yeonggo of Buyeo, Dongmaeng of Goguryeo, and Mucheon of Ye; the latter includes Dangun, Dongmyeong, and Hyeokgeose rituals. Korean shamanic mythology comprises narratives about gods worshipped in shamanism, w

Korean Folk Literature
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