Gods, Demons, and Generals: Icons of Korean Shamanism

A travelling exhibit from The Korea Society of New York, Gods, Demons and Generals: Icons of Korean Shamanism will be on display at Stokes 102 in Stokes Hall, Haverford College from Monday, October 4 through Friday, November 19, 2010.

The eleven paintings in the exhibition represent and explore the indigenous shamanic tradition, a force that occupies the nexus of the culture and religion of Korea. These paintings 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. When they appear in kut, the gods and ancestors speak through the shaman’s lips and perform through her body, chastising family members for neglect and misbehavior but also bringing promises of good fortune. 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 the first substantial survey of Korean shamanism to be exhibited in the U.S. The exhibit will be open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Weekend hours will be available during Haverford’s Family Weekend, Friday, October 29-Sunday October 31 from 1-4 p.m

On Wednesday, November 3 from 2:45-3:45, Professor Michael Pettid of Binghamton University, SUNY, will lead a gallery talk in Stokes 102. And on Thursday, November 4 at 4:15pm, also in Stokes, he will present a talk entitled, "Shamans, Ghosts and Hobgoblins amidst Korean Folk Customs." The November 4th talk will be followed by a reception.

Gods, Demons and Generals: Icons of Korean Shamanism is organized and curated by The Korea Society as part of their traveling exhibition programs. It is currently traveling to colleges, universities, galleries and nonprofit institutions across America and comes to Haverford College courtesy of the John B. Hurford '60 Humanities Center.