본문 바로가기
  • Home

A Study on the Image of Shamans from the Perspective of the Scholar-gentry(士大夫)

  • The Research of the Korean Classic
  • 2024, (65), pp.117-152
  • Publisher : The Research Of The Korean Classic
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature > Korean Literature > Korean classic prose
  • Received : April 15, 2024
  • Accepted : May 8, 2024
  • Published : May 31, 2024

LEE, JUYOUNG 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article examines the portrayal of shamans through the perspective of the scholar-gentry(士大夫) class as reflected in various records, such as Pilgi(筆記) and Yadam(野談), and explores the significance of these portrayals. From the late 13th century, shamans were subjects of rejection and criticism by the scholar-gentry, and after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, they were perceived as antagonists disrupting the order of Confucian society. Shamans were negatively depicted, labeled as “wicked shamans” or “fake shamans.” The literati aimed to emphasize the legitimacy of rejecting shamans through these depictions. The literati focused their criticism on shamans who deceived people and gained undue benefits by exploiting superstitions about spirits. Male shamans dressed in women's clothing were recognized as the primary image of the “wicked shaman.” On the other hand, shamans were unique beings capable of communicating with spirits or ghosts through possession(降神/憑依). Although the scholar-gentry rejected shamans, they were very interested in their spiritual abilities. This is connected to verifying the authenticity of “spiritual shamans” and “genuine shamans”. As the Joseon Dynasty progressed, the scholar-gentry increasingly acknowledged the spiritual power of shamans through their experiences and observations of possession phenomena. Consequently, they began to view shamans and shamanistic practices more positively compared to earlier periods. Narratives from the late Joseon period include acceptance of shamanistic phenomena and rituals, and shamanistic practices often served to complement or even replace Confucian rituals. Shamans were depicted as marginalized figures, yet they secured their position by serving as spiritual intermediaries for the common people. This dual perspective on shamans reflects the contradiction between the literati's ideals and the reality of their perception. The scholar-gentry show a more flexible and reserved attitude toward shamans than before, expecting an interest in the unknown world, experiences with them, and solving practical problems through shamans. That is, shamans were portrayed as beings who were excluded from the Confucian society, but simultaneously, they were seen as entities filling the gaps within that society, thus maintaining their vitality.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.