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Spirit House

Spirit House

감실 (龕室)

1700s

Part of a set. See all parts

Iron inlaid with silver and copper decoration

Gift of The Honorable Joseph P. Carroll and Roberta Carroll, M.D. in memory of Robert P. Bergman 1999.120

Description

This table, chair, and spirit house form a partial recreation of a memorial altar from the Joseon period. The spirit house and chair both include a number of auspicious symbols, including lotuses, conch shells, and chakra wheels. The spirit house would have been placed on the altar chair, and offerings would have been set out on the table for the memorial service. In ancestor veneration rituals, deceased parents or ancestors are sanctified as spirits who are believed to oversee their descendents. Three times a year, once at the lunar new year, once at the person’s death date, and once at the time of the mid-autumn festival, food would be placed on the table for the ancestors, including fruits, rice, meat, and rice wine. During these ceremonies the worshippers’ attitude was as reverential toward the objects meant to embody the ancestors’ spirits as that toward a living parent.

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