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Iron inlaid with silver and copper decoration
Overall: 30 x 35 x 14 cm (11 13/16 x 13 3/4 x 5 1/2 in.)
Gift of The Honorable Joseph P. Carroll and Roberta Carroll, M.D. in memory of Robert P. Bergman 1999.120.1
The belief in two types of souls, the spiritual and the corporeal, embodied the core concept of ancestor worship in traditional China and Korea. While the corporeal soul is believed to reside in the tomb, the spiritual soul, in the spirit house, like this example, guards his or her decedents.
Many homes in premodern Korean society had a memorial shrine for preparing and holding ancestral rites. Placed on the top of a tall chair, this miniature edifice (called the spirit house) served as a temporary residence for visiting ancestral spirits. On the table, a variety of delicacies such as fruits, rice, meat, and wine would be placed to treat those spiritual guests.
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