Exhibition shows shamanism of Jeju, Himalayas
By Chung Ah-young
The National Folk Museum of Korea and the Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum are holding a joint exhibition to feature shamanism of Jeju Island and the Himalayas.
It focuses on the lives of the islanders and those in the Himalayas and their dependence on shamanism.
It is displaying 225 items related to shamanism from the two areas. Video clips of folk rituals conducted by the late shaman Lee Jung-chun (1937-2011) designated as Jeju Intangible Cultural Property No. 13 and Himalayan shaman Brikha Bahadur Rai, along with their tools such as drums and bells are on show.
After becoming a shaman, following his family’s tradition, Lee was recognized as a master shaman excelling in almost all kinds of rituals conducted all around the island.
The Himalayan shaman first encountered spirits at the age of 20 in the mountains. Acknowledged as the most influential shaman among 15 in the Baksila region, he is good at using “mundum,” a typical mantra, during his services.
The patterns reflecting the shamanistic lives of the two regions show differences of culture but they are basically the same as they are practices related to the hardships the natives face in the harsh natural backgrounds, according to the museums.
The exhibition is designed to shed new light on cultural distinctions and universality formed and reflected by the shamanism of the geographically and culturally distant regions.
It consists of three parts. The first section shows the geographical and cultural characteristics of Jeju and the Himalayas and their beliefs in various deities. The second part features representative shamans and their roles as mediators between humans and spirits in both Jeju and Himalayan communities. The shamanistic ceremonies of the two areas are compared in the third section. Relevant videos of rituals performed by the master shamans are screened in this part.
The exhibition will continue through Dec. 23 at the Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum on Island. For more information, visit http://museum.jeju.go.kr.