A Meeting of Extremes: The Symbiosis of Confucians and Shamans

  • Boudewijn C. A. Walraven
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 11)


It is commonly assumed that shamanism was the original religion of the inhabitants of the Korean peninsula before Buddhism and Confucianism were introduced from China, where ecstatic religion, usually referred to as shamanism, also is supposed to have been a most ancient form of religion. It cannot be doubted, however, that once Buddhism and Confucianism, with their treasury of scriptures, were accepted by the ruling elite the social position of the shamans, representatives of an oral tradition that relied on personal inspiration, gradually deteriorated and reliance on their services was reduced. This tendency became more pronounced when the rulers of Chosŏn and the elite accepted Confucianism as the dominant ideology. In spite of this, as mediators between the spirit world and the world of man who catered to the immediate needs of people, shamans continued to practice their rituals, and were particularly favoured by women of all classes and men of lower social status than the Confucian elite who tended to look down on the shamans. Consequently, the relationship between shamanism and Confucianism has been characterized as “co-existence within conflict.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boudewijn C. A. Walraven
    • 1
  1. 1.Academy of East Asian StudiesSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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