Cross–Cultural Korea

Village Tutelary Deities as Cultural and Axiological Symbols in Korea and Romania

Jeong Hwan Kim

Research Article
Accepted: May 13, 2019

An artistic creation expressed as a cultural phenomenon symbolizes the characteristics of a nation’s soul and mental life. And the cultural heritage of a nation, which shows us the religious symbols and signs in the great nature to be harmonized with the profane and the sacred, is also easily found in the East and the West. Troytsa, Jangseung, Sotdae: these can be taken as representative. Regarding the Romanian cultural heritage of Troytsa, the village tutelary deity conforms very similarly to Korean Jangseung and Sotdae. Jangseung and Sotdae, representative popular sculptured creations of Korean folk beliefs, and which are related to the totem pole, are close to villagers’ lives, being the divine protection of the village’s peace, as well as functioning as a signpost and a boundary, ensuring a good harvest and preventing misfortune, etc. A Sotdae, which features a bird on top of a pole, is recognized as an object of belief mixed between the “Tree of the World” and the “Bird of the Soul” in northern-cultural Asian shamanism. Unlike them, the Romanian Troytsa, which took root in an ancient faith (the Totem of the Tree), is a divine, sculptured creation mixed with Christianity, generally located at the entrance of a village or at an intersection of roads. These tutelary deities and their variations share functions and characteristics, but their features and patterns are different. Jangseung have angry and fearful countenances in order to turn away diseases and evil spirits, but Sotdae and Troytsa maintain the style of a menhir or a column as one of the folk beliefs related to the totem pole. Even today, Troytsa, Jangseung, Sotdae are being generated and developed as representative cultural prototypes and village tutelary deities.

folk belief, cultural heritage, tutelary deity, totem pole, Jangseung, Troytsa