From the dust jacket:
Just what are the secrets of Shamanism’s survival in Korea for over five millennia? Even after sixteen centuries of suppression, first by Buddhists for a thousand years, then by Neo-Confucianists who ruled Korea for five centuries, finally by missionaries who regarded this folk faith as “the basest demonology,” Shamanism still persisted as Korea became industrialized. Many contemporary customs have a Shamanistic core. Recently the Fifth Republic has allowed Shamanism freedom of expression as part of preserving the nation’s cultural heritage.
This book contains the first major speculations on the Shamanist meanings of the golden treasures discovered in Korea’s an-cient tombs. Here an American art historian traces echoes which reverberate back across the Siberian Steppes to the Caucasus Mountains and the Scythians of the third century B.C.
“Spirits” still affect the lives of ordinary Koreans, whether or not the person is conscious of the fact. The rituals that most foreigners view are public and have few children in attendance; those kuts held within private homes, or simple divinations, include the future generation as active participants.
Korea’s most Westernized intellectuals, her cynical newsmen, even medical doctors, will call upon the shades of the past at some point in their lives. While dependence on the spirits is outwardly becoming less evident, inner belief will continue until “science” satisfactorily explains birth, death and calamity.