The Newsletter of the Korean Art Society 2009 about the Traditional Shaman art of Korea. The newsletter is an outstanding resource of information containing detailed narratives on the depicted paintings. Robert Turley the President of the Society, writes in his introduction;
“My reasons for loving Korean art are its unaffected sincerity, earthy soulfulness, absence of artifice, energetic sense of humor, and effortless reverence for and affinity with nature. These are qualities that are well expressed in the folk art of Korea. Art that is by and for the people and that is not art for art’s sake. It’s the same qualities that draw me to early acoustic blues, tribal art, and any other unfiltered and unfettered expression of humankind’s common yearnings, fears, disappointments, and triumphs. Within the broad realm of Korean folk art, shaman art expresses the deepest desires of the Korean people.The shaman’s art and implements, such as paintings, masks, and costumes are a fundamental part of shaman rituals to protect the home, heal the sick, divine the future, communicate with the deceased, bless and protect the crop, wedding, family, and newborn baby, and provide the people with a sense of well-being and purpose.
While the court ordained official theology and commissioned art supportive of it, the commoners, from a life really lived, created and through the centuries have held onto a most syncretic belief system that borrows from Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, ancient animism, and elsewhere, and that engenders a strong connection to nature and its energy. Korean shamanism encourages a healthy defiance against official dogma, and an open-mindedness and sincerity that guides the creators and commissioners of these powerful works of art. That is why these wonderful creations by and for the people speak so directly to persons of all persuasions even today”.
The Gahoe Museum in Seoul houses a beautiful collection of traditional shaman art.