Posted by: rbbadger | February 2, 2010

Year of the Tiger

In a couple of weeks, we will be celebrating the Lunar New Year.  The National Folk Museum is having an exhibition in honour of the Year of the Tiger.  So, there were many tiger-related things.  The tiger is a beloved symbol of Korea.  Tigers used to be a common feature of the Korean landscape.  However, it was thought that the species of Siberian Tiger which once roamed the hills and mountains of Korea was extinct.  There are a few still remaining.  Some are at the Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon.

Here is a fan used by a shaman in her ritual practices.  It is adorned with the deities of Korean Shamanism.  Shamanism is still very much alive and well in Korea, though you probably won’t notice it as openly as you would in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and other places where the Chinese people live.  Like with Chinese Daoism, Korean shamans have adopted various Buddhist deities.  Korean Buddhist temples, in addition, often feature shrines in honour of shamanic deities.

Here is an instrument used in traditional Korean music, the Eo.  The musician playing this instrument scrapes the scales on the tigers’ back with a stick.  It is generally only used in the performance of Confucian ritual music, such as at the annual royal ancestral rites ceremony at Jongmyo.

The 1988 Seoul Olympics were a time of great pride for Korea.  The mascot of the Seoul Olympics was a tiger.  One of these Olympic mascots is done in celadon, the beautiful greenish-hued pottery that remains one of Korea’s most valued traditional crafts.

Reunification of both North and South Korea is the hope of many Koreans.  This old calendar from 1950 expresses that hope.  南北統一은 우리의 힘으로. 



  1. Have you seen the inspiration video on Diane Garnick’s fan site yet? I hope she starts a world wide rave about reunification.

    • No I haven’t. One hopes for reunification someday. Korea did not deserve to be split in half. Unlike Germany, Korea was a victim and an innocent party in World War II.

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