Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hareubang Grandfather Statues

Hareubang known as "Grandfather Statues" can be seen all over Jeju Island in South Korea.

These odd-looking statues are carved from the porous basalt volcanic rock of Jeju and are found outside homes, on bridges and now in the foyers of hotels and in front of restaurants and shops.

Though the origins and symbolism of the Hareubang statues is obscure it is thought they are guardian gods of homes and may also have a phallic (hence fertility) symbolism. The mushroom shape of the carvings may also be associated with an ancient magic mushroom cult practiced by shamans on Jeju Island.

Hareubang of various sizes can be purchased in souvenir stores throughout Jeju as garden ornaments, phone straps or keyrings. Bukchon Dol Hareubang Park on Jeju has a collection of 48 Dol Hareubang and information on these curious carvings.

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