A hanbok (in South Korean) or Chosŏn-ot (in North Korean) is a traditional Korean dress for semi-formal or formal attire during traditional occasions such as festivals, celebrations, and ceremonies. It is characterized by vibrant colors and simple lines without pockets. Although the term literally means "Korean clothing", today "hanbok" usually refers specifically to clothing worn during the Joseon dynasty period. Korea had a dual clothing tradition in which rulers and aristocrats adopted different kinds of mixed foreign-influenced indigenous styles, such as the gwanbok for officials, while commoners preserved a distinct style of indigenous clothing.
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Typical designs of traditional Korean dress
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Composition and designEdit
Traditional women's hanbok consists of jeogori, a blouse shirt or a jacket, and chima, a wrap-around skirt, which is usually worn full. The ensemble is often called chima jeogori. Men's hanbok consists of jeogori and loose-fitting baji ("trousers").
Jeogori is the basic upper garment of the hanbok, worn by both men and women. It covers the arms and upper part of the wearer's body. The basic form of a jeogori consists of gil, git, dongjeong, goreum and sleeves. Gil (Hangul: 길) is the large section of the garment on both front and back sides, and git (Hangul: 깃) is a band of fabric that trims the collar. Dongjeong (Hangul: 동정) is a removable white collar placed over the end of the git and is generally squared off. The gorem (Hangul: 고름) are coat-strings that tie the jeogori. Women's jeogori may have kkeutdong (Hangul: 끝동), a different colored cuff placed at the end of the sleeves. Two jeogori may be the earliest surviving archaeological finds of their kind. One from a Yangcheon Heo clan tomb is dated 1400–1450, while the other was discovered inside a statue of the Buddha at Sangwonsa Temple (presumably left as an offering) that has been dated to the 1460s.
The form of Jeogori has changed over time. While men's jeogori remained relatively unchanged, women's jeogori dramatically shortened during the Joseon dynasty, reaching its shortest length at the late 19th century. However, due to reformation efforts and practical reasons, modern jeogori for women is longer than its earlier counterpart. Nonetheless the length is still above the waistline. Traditionally, goreum were short and narrow, however modern goreum are rather long and wide. There are several types of jeogori varying in fabric, sewing technique, and shape.
Chima refers to "skirt," which is also called sang (裳) or gun (裙) in hanja. The underskirt, or petticoat layer, is called sokchima. According to ancient murals of Goguryeo and an earthen toy excavated from the neighborhood of Hwangnam-dong, Gyeongju, Goguryeo women wore a chima with jeogori over it, covering the belt.
Although striped, patchwork, and gored skirts are known from the Goguryeo and Joseon periods, chima were typically made from rectangular cloth that was pleated or gathered into a skirt band. This waistband extended past the skirt fabric itself and formed ties for fastening the skirt around the body.
Sokchima was largely made in a similar way to the overskirts until the early 20th century when straps were added, later developing into a sleeveless bodice or 'reformed' petticoat. By the mid-20th century, some outer chima had also gained a sleeveless bodice, which was then covered by the jeogori.
Baji refers to the bottom part of the men's hanbok. It is the formal term for 'trousers' in Korean. Compared to western style pants, it does not fit tightly. The roomy design is aimed at making the clothing ideal for sitting on the floor. It functions as modern trousers do, but nowadays the term baji is commonly used in Korea for any kinds of pants. There is a band around the waistline of a baji for tying in order to fasten.
Baji can be unlined trousers, leather trousers, silk pants, or cotton pants, depending on style of dress, sewing method, embroidery and so on.
Po or Pho is a generic term referring to an outer robe or overcoat, which was a common style from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period until the late Joseon period. A belt was used until it was replaced by a ribbon during late Joseon dynasty. Durumagi is a variety of po that was worn as protection against cold. It had been widely worn as an outer robe over jeogori and baji. It is also called jumagui, juchaui, or juui.
Jokki and magojaEdit
Jokki (Korean: 조끼) is a type of vest, while magoja is an outer jacket. Although jokki and magoja were created at the end of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897), directly after which Western culture began to affect Korea, the garments are considered traditional clothing. Each is additionally worn over jeogori for warmth and style. Magoja clothing was originally styled after the clothing of Manchu people, and was introduced to Korea after Heungseon Daewongun, the father of King Gojong, returned from his political exile in Tianjin in 1887. Magoja were derived from the magwae he wore in exile because of the cold climate there. Due to its warmth and ease of wear, magoja became popular in Korea. It is also called "deot jeogori" (literally "an outer jeogori") or magwae.
Magoja does not have git, the band of fabric trimming the collar, nor goreum (tying strings), unlike jeogori and durumagi (an overcoat). Magoja was originally a male garment but later became unisex. The magoja for men has seop (Korean: 섶, overlapped column on the front) and is longer than women's magoja, so that both sides are open at the bottom. A magoja is made of silk and is adorned with one or two buttons which are usually made from amber. In men's magoja, buttons are attached to the right side, as opposed to the left as in women's magoja.
At first,[when?] women wore the magoja for style rather than as a daily outfit, and especially kisaeng wore it often. It is made of silk, and the color for women tends to be a neutral color to harmonize with other garments such as jeogori and chima, which are worn together. In spring and autumn, pastels used in women's magoja are matched with jeogori by color. Men's magoja during spring and summer are jade, green, gray, dark grey.
Traditionally, Kkachi durumagi (literally "a magpie's overcoat") were worn as seolbim (Hangul: 설빔), new clothing and shoes worn on Korean New Year, while at present, it is worn as a ceremonial garment for dol, the celebration for a baby's first birthday. It is a children's colorful overcoat. It was worn mostly by young boys. The clothes is also called obangjang durumagi which means "an overcoat of five directions". It was worn over jeogori (a jacket) and jokki (a vest), while the wearer could put jeonbok (a long vest) over it. Kkachi durumagi was also worn along with headgear such as bokgeon (a peaked cloth hat), hogeon (peaked cloth hat with a tiger pattern) for young boys or gulle (decorative headgear) for young girls.[need quotation to verify]
Hanbok is classified according to its purposes: everyday dress, ceremonial dress, and special dress. Ceremonial dresses are worn on formal occasions, including a child's first birthday, a wedding, or a funeral. Special dresses are made for shamans and officials.
Hanbok was worn daily up until just 100 years ago, it was originally designed to facilitate ease of movement. But now, it is only worn on festive occasions or special anniversaries. It is a formal dress and most Koreans keep a hanbok for special times in their life such as wedding, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), and Seollnal (Korean New Year's), Children wear hanbok to celebrate their first birthday (Hangul: 돌잔치) etc. While the traditional hanbok was beautiful in its own right, the design has changed slowly over the generations. The core of hanbok is its graceful shape and vibrant colors, it is hard to think of hanbok as everyday wear but it is slowly being revolutionized through the changing of fabrics, colors and features, reflecting the desire of people.
Women's Traditional Hanbok consist of jeogori, which is a shirt or a jacket, and chima dress, which is a wrap around skirt that is usually worn full. A man's hanbok consists of jeorgori (jacket) and baggy pants that are called baji. Also there are additional clothing Po which is the outer coat, or robe, jokki which is a type of vest and magoja which is an outer jacket worn over jeogori for warmth and style.
The color of hanbok symbolized social position and marital status. Bright colors, for example, were generally worn by children and girls, and muted hues by middle aged men and women. Unmarried women often wore yellow jeogori and red chima while matrons wore green and red, and women with sons donned navy. The upper classes wore a variety of colors. Contrastingly, commoners were required to wear white, but dressed in shades of pale pink, light green, gray and charcoal on special occasions.
Also, the status and position can be identified by the material of the hanbok. The upper classes dressed in hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high grade lightweight materials in warmer months and of plain and patterned silks throughout the remainder of the year. Commoners, in contrast, were restricted to cotton. Patterns were embroidered on hanbok to represent the wishes of the wearer. Peonies on a wedding dress, represented a wish for honor and wealth. Lotus flowers symbolized a hope for nobility, and bats and pomegranates showed the desire for children. Dragons, phoenixes, cranes and tigers were only for royalty and high-ranking officials.
The hanbok can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms of Korea period, with roots in the peoples of what is now northern Korea and Manchuria. Early forms of Hanbok can be seen in the art of Goguryeo tomb murals in the same period. From this time, the basic structure of hanbok, namely the jeogori jacket, baji pants, and the chima skirt, were established. Short, tight trousers and tight, waist-length jackets were worn by both men and women during the early years of the Three Kingdoms of Korea period. The basic structure and these basic design features of hanbok remain relatively unchanged to this day.
A Goguryeo man in a hunting attire from Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom
Silla king's and queen's attire
A woman's attire during the Goryeo dynasty
Portrait of Yi Je-hyeon of the Goryeo dynasty
North-South States period and Goryeo dynastyEdit
As Silla unified the Three Kingdoms, various silks, linens, and fashions were imported from Tang China and Persia. In the process, the latest fashions trend of Luoyang, the capital of Tang, were also introduced to Korea, where it became a uniquely Korean silhouette similar to the Western Empire silhouette. After the Korean unification by the Silla, Korean women of the aristocrat class started wearing the new style, popular not only in China but in all countries influenced by the Silk Road. The style, however, did not affect hanbok still used by the commoners, and its use faded during the Goryeo period, the next ruling state of Korea, and the use of hanbok was revived in the aristocrat class.
In the North-South States Period, Silla and Balhae adopted dallyeong, a circular-collar robe from ancient West Asia that was adopted by the Tang dynasty of China. The dallyeong style from China was used as gwanbok, a formal attire for government officials, grooms, and dragon robe, a formal attire for royalty.
Dragon robe (or ikseongwanpo): business attire for king
Hanbok went through significant changes under Mongol rule. After the Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) signed a peace treaty with the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, Mongolian princesses who married into the Korean royal house brought with them Mongolian fashion which began to prevail in both formal and private life. As a result of this influence, the chima skirt was shortened, and jeogori was hiked up above the waist and tied at the chest with a long, wide ribbon, the goruem (instead of being belted) and the sleeves were curved slightly. Cultural exchange was not one way however. Goryeo had significant cultural influence on the Mongols court of the Yuan dynasty, the most visible of which was adoption of women's hanbok by the aristocrats, queens, and concubines of the Mongol court.
Early Joseon continued the women's fashion for baggy, loose clothing, such as those seen on the mural from the tomb of Bak Ik (1332–1398). However, by the 16th century, the jeogori had shortened to the waist and appears to have become closer fitting, although not to the extremes of the bell-shaped silhouette of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Today's hanbok is the direct descendant of hanbok worn in the Joseon period, specifically the late 19th century. Hanbok had gone through various changes and fashion fads during the five hundred years under the reigns of Joseon kings and eventually evolved to what we now mostly consider typical hanbok.
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During the Joseon dynasty, the chima or skirt adopted fuller volume, while the jeogori or blouse took more tightened and shortened form, features quite distinct from the hanbok of previous centuries, when chima was rather slim and jeogori baggy and long, reaching well below waist level. After the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) or Imjin War, economic hardship on the peninsula may have influenced the closer-fitting styles that use less fabric.
In the 16th century, women's jeogori was long, wide, and covered the waist. The length of women's jeogori gradually shortened: it was approximately 65 cm in the 16th century, 55 cm in the 17th century, 45 cm in the 18th century, and 28 cm in the 19th century, with some as short as 14.5 cm. A heoritti (허리띠) or jorinmal (졸잇말) was worn to cover the breasts. The trend of wearing a short jeogori with a heoritti was started by the gisaeng and soon spread to women of the upper class. Among women of the common and lowborn classes, a practice emerged in which they revealed their breasts after childbirth to proudly indicate that they had given birth to a son, i.e., a male heir.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the fullness of the skirt was concentrated around the hips, thus forming a silhouette similar to Western bustles. The fullness of the skirt reached its extreme around 1800. During the 19th century fullness of the skirt was achieved around the knees and ankles thus giving chima a triangular or an A-shaped silhouette, which is still the preferred style to this day. Many undergarments such as darisokgot, soksokgot, dansokgot, and gojengi were worn underneath to achieve desired forms.
A clothes reformation movement aimed at lengthening jeogori experienced wide success in the early 20th century and has continued to influence the shaping of modern hanbok. Modern jeogori are longer, although still halfway between the waistline and the breasts. Heoritti are sometimes exposed for aesthetic reasons. At the end of the 19th century, as mentioned above, Heungseon Daewongun introduced magoja, a Manchu-style jacket, which is often worn over jeogori to this day.
Soksokgot, similar to a petticoat, is shown under the woman's skirt. 18th century.
Men's hanbok saw little change compared to women's hanbok. The form and design of jeogori and baji hardly changed.
In contrast, men's lengthy outwear, the equivalent of the modern overcoat, underwent a dramatic change. Before the late 19th century, yangban men almost always wore jungchimak when traveling. Jungchimak had very lengthy sleeves, and its lower part had splits on both sides and occasionally on the back so as to create a fluttering effect in motion. To some this was fashionable, but to others, namely stoic scholars, it was nothing but pure vanity. Daewon-gun successfully banned jungchimak as a part of his clothes reformation program and jungchimak eventually disappeared.
Durumagi, which was previously worn underneath jungchimak and was basically a house dress, replaced jungchimak as the formal outwear for yangban men. Durumagi differs from its predecessor in that it has tighter sleeves and does not have splits on either sides or back. It is also slightly shorter in length. Men's hanbok has remained relatively the same since the adoption of durumagi.
Material and colorEdit
The upper classes wore hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high-grade lightweight materials in warm weather and of plain and patterned silks the rest of the year. Commoners were restricted by law as well as resources to cotton at best.
The upper classes wore a variety of colors, though bright colors were generally worn by children and girls and subdued colors by middle-aged men and women. Commoners were restricted by law to everyday clothes of white, but for special occasions they wore dull shades of pale pink, light green, gray, and charcoal. The color of chima showed the wearer's social position and statement. For example, a navy color indicated that a woman had son(s). Only the royal family could wear clothing with geumbak-printed patterns (gold leaf) on the bottom of the chima.
Both male and female wore their hair in a long braid until they were married, at which time the hair was knotted; man's hair was knotted in a topknot called sangtu (상투) on the top of the head, and the woman's hair was rolled into a ball shaped form or komeori and was set just above the nape of the neck.
A long pin, or binyeo (비녀), was worn in women's knotted hair as both a fastener and a decoration. The material and length of the binyeo varied according to the wearer's class and status. And also wore a ribbon or daenggi (댕기) to tie and to decorate braided hair. Women wore a jokduri on their wedding day and wore an ayam for protection from the cold. Men wore a gat, which varied according to class and status.
Before the 19th century, women of high social backgrounds and gisaeng wore wigs (gache). Like their Western counterparts, Koreans considered bigger and heavier wigs to be more desirable and aesthetic. Such was the women's frenzy for the gache that in 1788 King Jeongjo banned by royal decree the use of gache, as they were deemed contrary to the Korean Confucian values of reserve and restraint.
In the 19th century yangban women began to wear jokduri, a small hat that replaced gache. However gache enjoyed vast popularity in kisaeng circles well into the end of the century.
Beginning in the late 19th century, hanbok was largely replaced by new Western imports like the Western suit and dress. Today, formal and casual wear are usually based on Western styles. However, hanbok is still worn for traditional occasions, and is reserved for celebrations like weddings, the Lunar New Year, annual ancestral rites, or the birth of a child.
Especially from the Goryeo Dynasty, the hanbok started to determine differences in social status through the many types and components, and their characteristics - from people with the highest social status (kings), to those of the lowest social status (slaves). Although the modern Hanbok does not express a person's status or social position, Hanbok was an important element of distinguishment especially in the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties.
Hwarot or Hwal-Ot (Hangul: 활옷) was the full dress for a princess and the daughter of a king by a concubine, formal dress for the upper class, and bridal wear for ordinary women during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties. Popular embroidered patterns on Hwal-Ot were lotuses, phoenixes, butterflies, and the ten traditional symbols of longevity: the sun; mountains; water; clouds; rocks/stone; pine trees; the mushroom of immortality; turtles; white cranes, and deer. Each pattern represented a different role within society, for example: a dragon represented an emperor a phoenix represented a queen; floral patterns represented a princess and a king's daughter by a concubine, and clouds and cranes represented high ranking court officials. All these patterns throughout Korean history had meanings of longevity, good luck, wealth and honor. Hwal-Ot also had blue, red, and yellow colored stripes in each sleeve - a woman usually wore a scarlet-colored skirt and yellow or green-colored Jeogori, a traditional Korean jacket. Hwal-Ot was worn over the Jeogori and skirt. A woman also wore her hair in a bun, with an ornamental hairpin and a ceremonial coronet. A long ribbon was attached to the ornamental hairpin, the hairpin is known as Yongjam (용잠). In more recent times, people wear Hwal-Ot on their wedding day, and so the Korean tradition survives in the present day.
Wonsam (Hangul: 원삼) was a ceremonial overcoat for a married woman in the Joseon dynasty. It was mostly worn by royalty, high-ranking court ladies, and noblewomen and the colors and patterns represented the various elements of the Korean class system. The empress wore yellow; the queen wore red; the crown princess wore a purple-red color; meanwhile a princess, a king's daughter by a concubine, and a woman of a noble family or lower wore green. All the upper social ranks usually had two colored stripes in each sleeve: yellow-colored Wonsam usually had red and blue colored stripes, red-colored Wonsam had blue and yellow stripes, and green-colored Wonsam had red and yellow stripes. Lower-class women wore many accompanying colored stripes and ribbons, but all women usually completed their outfit with Onhye or Danghye, traditional Korean shoes.
Dangui or Tangwi (Hangul: 당의) were minor ceremonial robes for the queen, a princess, or wife of a high ranking government official while it was worn during major ceremonies among the noble class in the Joseon dynasty. The materials used to make "Dang-Ui" varied depending on the season, so upper-class women wore thick Dang-Ui in winter while they wore thinner layers in summer. Dang-Ui came in many colors, but yellow and/or green were most common. However the emperor wore purple Dang-Ui, and the queen wore red. In the Joseon dynasty, ordinary women wore Dang-Ui as part of their wedding dress.
Myeonbok and JeokuiEdit
Myeonbok (Hangul: 면복) were the king's religious and formal ceremonial robes while Jeokui were the queen's equivalent during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties. Myeonbok was composed of Myeonryu-Gwan (Hangul: 면류관) and Gujang-bok (Hangul: 구장복). Myonryu-Gwan had beads, which hung loose; these would prevent the king from seeing wickedness. There were also wads of cotton in the left and right sides of Myeonryu-Gwan, and these were supposed to make the king oblivious to the influence of corrupt officials. Gujang-bok was black, and it bore nine symbols, which all represented the king.
- Dragon:A dragon's appearance paralleled how the king governed and subsequently brought balance to the world.
- Fire: The king was expected to be intelligent and wise to govern the people effectively, like a guiding light represented by the fire.
- Pheasant: The image of a pheasant represented magnificence.
- Mountain: As a mountain is high, the king was on a par in terms of status and was deserving of respect and worship.
- Tiger: A tiger represented the king's courage.
- Monkey: A monkey symbolized wisdom.
- Rice: As the people needed rice to live, the king was compared to this foodstuff as he had the responsibility of protecting their welfare.
- Axe: This indicated that the king had the ability to save and take lives.
- Water plant: Another depiction of the king's magnificence.
Jeokui or Tseogwi (Hangul: 적의) was arranged through the use of different colors as a status symbol within the royal family. The empress wore purple-red colored Jeokui, the queen wore pink, and the crown princess wore deep blue. "Jeok" means pheasant, and so Jeokui often had depictions of pheasants embroidered onto it.
Cheolick (Hangul: 철릭) was a Korean adaptation of the Mongol tunic, imported in the late 1200s during the Goryeo dynasty. Cheolique, unlike other forms of Korean clothing, is an amalgamation of a blouse with a kilt into a single item of clothing. The flexibility of the clothing allowed easy horsemanship and archery. During the Joseon dynasty, they continued to be worn by the king, and military officials for such activities. It was usually worn as a military uniform, but by the end of the Joseon dynasty, it had begun to be worn in more casual situations. A unique characteristic allowed the detachment of the Cheolique's sleeves which could be used as a bandage if the wearer was injured in combat.
Ayngsam (Hangul: 앵삼) was the formal clothing for students during the national government exam and governmental ceremonies. It was typically yellow, but for the student who scored the highest in the exam, they were rewarded with the ability to wear green Aengsam. If the highest-scoring student was young, the king awarded him with red-colored Aengsam.
Binyeo or Pinyeo (Hangul: 비녀) was a traditional ornamental hairpin, and it had a different-shaped tip again depending on social status. Women in the royal family had dragon or phoenix-shaped Binyeo while ordinary women had trees or Japanese apricot flowers. And Binyeo was a proof of marriage. Therefore, to a woman, Binyeo was an expression of chastity and decency.
Daenggi is a traditional Korean ribbon made of cloth to tie and to decorate braided hair.
Danghye or Tanghye(Hangul: 당혜) were shoes for married women in the Joseon dynasty. Danghye were decorated with trees bearing grapes, pomegranates, chrysanthemums, or peonies: these were symbols of longevity.
Danghye for a woman in the royal family were known as Kunghye (Hangul: 궁혜), and they were usually patterned with flowers.
Danghye for an ordinary woman were known as Onhye (Hangul: 온혜).
Although hanbok is a traditional costume, it has been re-popularized in modern fashion. Contemporary brands, such as the Modern Hanbok of the Korean in Me) and Kim MeHee, have incorporated traditional designs in their upscale modern clothes. Modern hanbok has been featured in international haute couture; on the catwalk, in 2015 when Karl Lagerfield dressed Korean models for Chanel, and during Paris Fashion Week in photography by Phil Oh. It has also been worn by international celebrities, such as Britney Spears and Jessica Alba, and athletes, such as tennis player Venus Williams and football player Hines Ward.
Hanbok is also popular among Asian-American celebrities, such as Lisa Ling and Miss Asia 2014, Eriko Lee Katayama. It has also made appearances on the red carpet, and was worn by Sandra Oh at the SAG Awards, and by Sandra Oh's mother who made fashion history in 2018 for wearing a hanbok to the Emmy Awards.
The South Korean government has supported the resurgence of interest in hanbok by sponsoring fashion designers. Domestically, hanbok has become trendy in street fashion and music videos. It has been worn by the prominent K-pop artists like Blackpink and BTS, notably in their music videos for "How You Like That" and "Idol." As the hanbok continues to modernize, opinions are divided on the redesigns.
In Seoul, a tourist's wearing of hanbok makes their visit to the Five Grand Palaces (Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung and Gyeonghuigung) free of charge.
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