a Pole Signifying the Activity of Praying for a Good Harvest
The ¡®Sotdae¡¯, a object of worship based on shamanism, is a pole where prayers are said to encourage a good harvest and to give peace to villagers. Usually with a wooden bird or duck on the top, Sotdae and totem poles stand at the entrance to villages, and function as guardians.
People believe that Sotdae protect them from misfortune, and drive out evil spirits. Villagers pray for them to bring peace to their village, and to give them a good harvest.
Shamanism appeared in vast areas such as Manju, Mongolia, Siberia, Japan and Korea in the Bronze age, and today, Sotdae are seen as an ancient symbol of Shamanism.
Sotdae were generally placed around totem poles, although solitary Sotdae stood in some places. Sotdae, as well as totem poles, play an important role in traditional Korean beliefs based upon Shamanism.
The History of Sotdae
Sotdae were considered as objects of worship many years before totem poles. In the period of the Three Hans, ceremonies to the gods were held on the sacred ground of each village.
There are several shapes of Sotdae. The common shape shows a bird sitting at the end of a pole. There are some that have no bird, but have blue and red pieces of cloth wound around it instead.
The Signification of Sotdae
People thought they had access to the gods through Sotdae, and many people, except for those in the southern provinces and Jeju Island chose wild geese as the bird. A fat duck was placed on the pole in the sacred ground of Jeolla, which symbolizes richness and productivity.
In some places, Sotdae were established to protect against fires. This is similar to the ridge of a roof being named Yong Ma Ru in Korean houses. Yong, a dragon, is an imaginary animal related to the water, and people call their wooden roofs Yongmaru to protect them from fire.
In conclusion, a Sotdae is an object of worship, established as a place where people can pray for a good harvest. It also symbolizes a representative belief in shamanism, and was built in the entrances to villages to protect against evil spirits.