Kut from Two Ethnographic Presents
This chapter compares two examples of kut, one from 1977 and another from 1992. In March 1977, angry spirits accosted a certain Mrs. Min and drove her mad. Shamans labored throughout a chilly spring night to save her life and restore her sanity. In 1992, a kut was held in a commercial shaman shrine for an urban woman who, although not mad, was in pain. The 1992 kut throws into question some of what the author thought she knew and highlights the particular challenge of studying rituals performed in a transient urban setting. She addresses the implications of different ritual time and space; the prominence of business anxieties as a problem for shamans and spirits; and the question of “real” (chinja) versus “phony” (ŏngt'ŏri) shamans.
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