Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tall grandfather or giant penis?

A student back in Seoul gave me a key chain from Jeju Island – with Jeju’s symbol, Dol hareubang (돌 하르방). I thought this little man looked cute, and kinda like a mushroom.

But when I visited Jeju for the first time, I was stunned by the sight of those giant stone Dol Hareubang; yes, they look like big phallic shaped rocks!

Literally translated, Dol Hareubang means “stone grandfather”. There are many (oh so many!) theories as to how it became Jeju’s main icon, but the most credible one is that it was spread with shamanic mushroom culture.

They are believed to provide people with both protection and fertility. In the past, the statues were placed outside of gates for protection against demons traveling between realities. They are made of the volcanic stone coming from Halla mountain (the big inactive volcano in the center of the island).

Dol Hareubangs are all over the island, and replicas of various sizes and shapes can be bought everywhere - even on top of Halla mountain! The small ones are sometimes given to women with fertility problems.

Whatever its meaning is, Korean culture keeps surprising me. You’ve seen nothing until you see Jeju’s big stone penes, with their grinning expressions and bulging eyes without pupils, a long, broad nose, and slight smile and their hands rest on their “bellies”…

Top100 Bloggers - Top Blog Directory - Blog Top list