Faces in Shamanism of Korea


Korean Shaman Painting is a kind of religious painting which shape gods worshiped by shamans in a human figures, put in a shrine. There are many words for Korean Shaman Painting such as Hwan, sugarless painting, but as it is a realistic painting of a god, it is generally called Korean Shaman god Painting Shamanism of Korea, which has the longest history since Kochosun, accepted shaman gods and foreign religions such as confucianism, buddhism and zen. Shamanism of Korea has as various gods as Ű in shamanism. It is divided into Korean shamanism (Mu) and godual shamanism and hereditary shamanism depending on whether a shaman is possessed of a god-god or not divides. As Korean Shaman god Painting is a painting of a god's god experienced while a shaman was receiving a god's god, no Korean Shaman Painting can generally be found in hereditary shamanism.
The history of Mugoddo of which the record are preserved can be dated back to at least as old as the late Koryo dynasty, which is recorded in <Kongguk Ysangguk Jip> of Lee, Kyubo(1168-1241). But it is very difficult to find an ancient Korean Shaman Painting, as shamans used to burn them out after the new one was completed.
The number of Korean Shaman Painting is in proportion to that of gods as Korean Shaman Painting has. It has god of nature, which is god of which the function is to provide natural object that can be worshiped. And it has human god that can be worshiped. Among gods of nature there are god of sky, god of earth, god of water, god of agriculture, god of fire, and god of azimuth and so on.
For example there are the god of the sun, the moon, the god of star general, the god of seven stars, the god of a mountain, and three house gods and so on. These gods of nature govern the universe. Human gods are people with worldly power such as kings, queens, generals, senior monks, high and ranking officials, legendary figures, and religious figures. Most of these human gods were made to be worshiped by the changes of the time, social circumstances, and wars. That is to say, most of them died unfortunately. The prince Sado, General Choi Young, General Kwanwon, General Yim, Kyung up, General Oh.
The same god, however, doesn't have the same face, for it was painted according to painters, and shamans' different dream during falling into trance by gods. They were painted by painters who were told the dreams experienced by shamans.
Nevertheless, we can find two lineage of the paintings divided by the painting techniques. One is of buddhist paintings by buddhist painters in temple. It gives the religious impressions using primary colors and designed an on the basis of altar portrait of Buddha. The other is the painting found in Whanghae province, the technique of which is similar with those of ordinary people with poor design. They have the human images with a standard face of Korea rather than threatening image. The gods have the same faces and they are only distinguished from each other by their costume and symbols. Faces are relatively much bigger, compared with their body, which seems to just an artistic distortion for dignifying them. The difference among the looks of gods depends on the characters of them. The difference between man and woman gods is most remarkable.
Man gods such as god of Janggun, god of Jackdu and god of godjang have thrilling image ; dauntless general with raised big eyes, firmly closed lips and hooked beards. On the other hand man gods such as god of mountain, god of seven stars, Prince Sado, god of the sun, the moon and the stars(Il-wol-sung-shin) and Bugumaji have soft and generous outlooks. Most of woman gods such as high ranking official wife, Buylsung, Yongguggod Bulsahalmany, Sambuljesuk, look like women of rich family with warm smiles, standing for the standard images of Korean woman. But there are sometimes women gods with whimsical and perverse outlooks. Besides Gongja, Hyunmissi and Gummungodgang with high level of scholarships, and high morality have the image of virtue and benig nancy. The senior monks who paid great contribution to the country in Japanese military intrusion in Imjin year (Imjinwaeran) have beard and outlook of god spirit, representing their virtue and character.
Chabussi, the god who help to perform a good exorcism by playing an instrument and dancing with a joyful look. Taeju, a young boy, is a child with cute image.
Korean Shaman paintings have religious image and function as amulet, employing simple design and primary colors, rather than dazzling colors. Techniques found in Korean Shaman Painting vary but most of them have kind and generous faces with smooth lines and colors, showing that the images of god are consonant with the those of the Koreans.