Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies

Gods, Demons and Generals: Icons of Korean Shamanism
Birth Spirits (Samsin Halmôni), Color and paper on fabric, Mid 20th Century, The Korea Society Collection

Gods, Demons and Generals: Icons of Korean Shamanism

September 12 - December 9, 2007
12-4 daily, except Mondays

The paintings in this exhibition explore the Korean indigenous shamanic tradition, a force that exists at the nexus of the culture and religion of Korea. These images, in rich colors and gold, were not created as art or decoration, but as visual representations of the gods that a shaman honors each day in her shrine, calls upon to help her give divinations, and manifests in her own person when she performs an elaborate ritual called kut. The images in the paintings, like the costumes that shamans wear in kut, reveal a lively religious practice that incorporates elements of popular religion, Buddhism and the old Confucian state, often with a dash of humor. To glimpse the world depicted in these compositions is to gain a unique perspective on Korea’s ancient past and immediate present at once. Gods, Demons and Generals: Icons of Korean Shamanism is organized and curated by The Korea Society. It is the first substantial survey of Korean shamanism to be exhibited in the U. S.