중앙데일리

Decoy ducks: Not for hunting

But a pair of them foreshadows a ducky marriage

Nov 16,2003
The following is a tip on traditional Korean language and customs in response to a query from a Ms. Brown, who wrote to us from Seoul:

Q. Ms. Brown:
At souvenir shops in airports and shopping arcades in Korea, I’ve seen these wooden duck decoys of various sizes and colors. I collect decoys wherever I go. Oddly though, the vendors here will never sell me one; they insist I buy a pair. Is there any reason for that?

A. IHT-JAD:
In the West, duck decoys are commonly used for hunting. By contrast, Koreans were farmers, for whom guarding fields and crops was a priority.

Ducks in shamanistic Korean society were first used as religious symbols; it was believed that the migratory birds were like gods, freely traveling between heaven and earth, and between land and water. Holy ducks, in the form of carved wood, were always prepared in pairs, a male and a female. This led to the belief that the duck pairs symbolized a married couple.

Today, the old tradition continues in traditional wedding ceremonies, and Koreans regard a pair of decorative ducks as a symbol of happy marriage.


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