KOREAN textile design

The traditional dress known as hanbok (한복; 韓服; alternatively joseonot; 조선옷 in North Korea) has been worn since ancient times. The hanbok consists of a shirt (jeogori) and a skirt (chima).

According to social status, Koreans used to dress differently, making clothing an important mark of social rank. Costumes were worn by the ruling class and the royal family. These upper classes also used jewelry to distance themselves from the ordinary people. A traditional item of jewellery for women was a pendant in the shape of certain elements of nature which was made of gemstones, to which a tassel of silk was connected.

For thousands of years, Korean people nearly exclusively wore plain white and undecorated hanbok. Color and ornamentation was only worn if required for a uniform, to display social status, or during special occasions. This led to the development of the nickname “white-clothed people” to describe Koreans. This practice possibly began around the Three Kingdoms of Korea period and lasted until just after the Korean War, after which it ended due to poverty. The basic everyday dress was shared by everyone, but distinctions were drawn in official and ceremonial clothes. During the winter people wore cotton-wadded dresses. Fur was also common.

Hanbok are classified according to their purposes: everyday dress, ceremonial dress and special dress. Ceremonial dresses are worn on formal occasions, including a child’s first birthday (doljanchi), a wedding or a funeral. Special dresses are made for purposes such as shamans, officials.

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