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BOOK REVIEWS131 with a few exceptions, of Chinese romanizations as well), this nagging feeling cannot be put to rest. Only by looking at the Simnirok itself is a China specialist likely to realize the simni is the Korean pronunciation ofthe common Chinese legal term shen-li which simply means "adjudication." It is disappointing that the publishers , no doubt for reasons ofcost, have failed to add an element that would have greatly increased the value of the book for comparative purposes. Brian E. McKnight University of Hawaii at Manoa Korean Shamanistic Rituals. By Lee Jung Young. Religion and Society Series, no. 12. The Hague: Mouton, 1981. Map, illustrations, plates, bibliography, index, xvi, 249pp. $44.50. Korean Shamanistic Rituals is a compilation ofeleven essays, five of them revisions of articles previously published in various journals. This method of composition has produced a work that is neither unified nor comprehensive, but it has allowed the author to touch upon a wide variety of shamanistic phenomena. Chapter 1 is devoted to reconstructing the history ofshamanism in Korea, primarily on the basis ofetymologies and interpretations ofmyths. Chapter 2 summarizes the procedures ofa chaesu kut, from beginning to end, as performed in the Seoul area, and chapter 3 provides translations ofnonnarrative songs sung by shamans at one ofthese rites. Chapters 4 and 9, which enumerate items ofritual paraphernalia and techniques of divination respectively, are more inclusive than any other listings that I have seen. Chapters 5 through 8, less systematically organized and therefore not quite as helpful, nevertheless include abundant details on different kinds of rites and their regional variations. Chapter 10 attempts to demonstrate that shamanism is closely connected with women and domestic life in Korea, a connection generally granted by other researchers. Chapter 11, based on two myths and the life histories ofthree shamans, posits a psychoanalytic relationship between Korean shamanism and sexual repression among Korean women. Two appendices, consisting of nineteen written charms and sixty-three photographs, provide illustrations of shamans' equipment and costumes, images of deities, and ritual procedures. The major theoretical orientation of this book evidently derives from the work of Mircea Eliade, to whom it is dedicated. In the opening chapter, Lee sets forth his view that the essential and primordial characteristic ofKorean shamanism is contact with a heavenly being. He then views the chaesu kut as the most fundamental rite of this religious tradition because, in his opinion, its aim is the promotion offellowship between spirits and humans. For like reasons, Lee regards those who become mudang through supernatural possession as more authentic bearers of Korea's traditional religion than those who enter the profession via hereditary ascription. All of these points are debatable. Readers accustomed to precision, systematic analysis, and other usual 1 32BOOK REVIEWS canons ofscholarship will find Korean Shamanistic Rituals a difficult book. Unclear prose and a discursive style unfortunately obscure the author's arguments. Methods ofdata collection are not described; nor are sources provided for most of the descriptive facts and many of the interpretations. Thus, one is often left wondering whether a given statement originated in the author's own observations, the testimony of shamans, or the work of other researchers. Many of the Chinese characters provided for Korean terms actually represent Sino-Korean expressions ofsimilar meaning (for example, the characters for saesin kum are given forkut tori). Other Chinese characters, such as those given for köri, the twelve steps of a shamanistic rite, appear to be spurious, and a few characters are simply incorrect. A "basic structure" of the chaesu kut is set forth in chapter 10 for the sake of a neat structural analysis, but it differs from any ofthe structures enumerated in chapter 2, where we are also told that the chaesu kut has no standard structure. And finally, neither footnotes no romanizations follow any consistent style. Despite its shortcomings, Korean Shamanistic Rituals is not without value. Its wealth of descriptive material will be welcome to those who lack easy access to Korean language scholarship on this topic. Its analyses and interpretations, though somewhat erratic and speculative, provide interesting suggestions for anyone interested in Korean religion. Roger L. Janelli Indiana University Biblografiia Korei, 1917-1970 [A bibliography of Korea, 1917...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 131-132
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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