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Observations placeholder

Korean mystic shamanism – Methods – Bells, gongs, cymbals, singing bowls



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Shamanism, music and the soul – Keith Howard

A further instrument was noted by the Japanese ethnographer Murayama in the 1930s, the koritchak. This was a wicker basket used for intimate Korean rituals which, although considered effective in calling the spirits of the dead, might indicate a reaction to persecution, since the limited sound potential would have kept rituals from public view. A plethora of metal instruments are also used, from rice-bowl lids and finger cymbals (collectively described after terms for Buddhist cymbals as para, chabaro, and chegum) to bell trees [pongul) in the centre and north, small gongs (kwaenggwari) and upturned prayer bowls in the south-east, and a brass clapperless bell (chongju] struck with a small deer antler in the south-west. Through-out Korea, it is the large gong (ching) that functions more like central Asian frame drums.

 Vestiges of its role as the residence of a helping spirit remain. 'The spirit of the gong is angry', said the shaman Yi Wansun one rainy night in 1984 when nothing seemed to be going right in a ritual conducted after a man had broken his leg in a fall. She leaned the gong against the wall, assembled a small altar table in front of it, replete with food and drink, and prayed. Park Byung Chon routinely raises the gong to his chest and holds it not with a cord (as is normal in secular contexts), but with his right hand behind and inside.

He sings into it, intently concentrating on the sound, addressing the spirits.


The source of the experience

Korean mystic shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Listening to sound and music


Singing bowls