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‘Enchanted Asia’ exhibit displays magic, sorcery

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Jeff Tyson

On the ceiling of the Beopjusa Temple, built in 553 A.D., a shaman entertains the roof-beam spirit with dance and music.

An exhibit on magic in Asian cultural contexts is on display outside Kroch Library’s Asia Reading Room. “Enchanted Asia” provides a glimpse at different manifestations of sorcery throughout Asia.

“Bewitching often means casting spells on people so bad things happen,” said Carole Atkinson of Cornell University Library’s Southeast Asia Collection. “The belief that you can cause evil things to happen to people and that there are means of protection against evil is common to many cultures.”

The exhibit includes photos, prints of paintings, books and tantric diagrams. There is even a small “magical” lamp and an amulet for protection against the evil eye. Several items feature tattoos, which Atkinson described as powerful protective symbols. On the wall are large depictions of temple murals, magical drawings and artifacts such as oracle bones.

“Enchanted Asia” complements the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections’ “The World Bewitch’d” exhibit in Kroch’s Hirshland Gallery, which showcases the Cornell Witchcraft Collection.

“Enchanted Asia” runs through March 2018.

- Natalie Tsay ’18


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