The Costume, the Pattern of Joseon Dynasty: Women’s Ceremonial Robe, Green Wonsam

Gyeonggi Provincial Museum

The Beauty of Korean clothing


On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Gyeonggi Provincial Museum, we came up with the special exhibition “The Costume, the Pattern of Joseon Dynasty”. The exhibition, named after the costume and design of the Joseon Dynasty.

“The Costume”consists of five parts: part one is ‘Officials' Ceremonial Attire, Red Jobok’, part two is ‘Officials' Uniform, Black Dallyeong’, part three is ‘Confucian Scholars’ Ceremonial Robe, White Sim-ui’, part four is ‘Women’s Ceremonial Robe, Green Wonsam’, and the last part shows ‘Men and Women’s Vest, Baeja’. And also, discolored costumes from the original attire were splendidly recreated by Korean costume professionals. In “The Pattern”, one of the relics in the Gyeonggi Provincial Museum, displays the various and distinctive patterns of Joseon Dynasty, through which our ancestors pursued beauty and their desires to express due courtesy with full dress code including a variety of designs.

We sincerely hope that you can feel and appreciate the beauty of Korean clothing in a new light.

4. Women’s Ceremonial Robe, Green Wonsam
Wonsam as women’s ceremonial robe was originally reserved for the upper class women but was allowed as bridal attire for lower class women in the late Joseon dynasty. When wearing Wonsam, a headdress and a large belt, for example Gache or Keunmeori, Daedae, Jokduri, or Hwagwan. During the early Joseon dynasty, the form of Wonsam was similar to that of Dallyeong. It had side openings with pleated parts. Red, dark blue, green colors were used for Wonsam. Later the form of Wonsam changed: it took center-front opening style, and sleeves became longer and wider. Multi colored stripes and white wide cloth were attached to the sleeves, and the pleated parts attached to the side openings disappeared. The common color of Wonsam was green, but during the late Joseon dynasty the color of Wonsam varied depending on the wearer’s social status. 

Wonsam of early Joseon Dynasty is characteristically similar to men's Dallyeong, so much so that there are records that say 'women's Wonsam was altered to wear as men's official Dallyeong'. This Wonsam has a round neckline, but a stark difference from men's Dallyeong is that the sleeves are short, which is a characteristic of women's attire during the Joseon Dynasty. The sideline has an opening, and a crease was folded 3 times on the front and back to be fixed. The outer garment used a lotus vine-patterned silk, and the 'Gongjak (peacock) Hyungbae', corresponding to a 1st rank civil official, was attached to the chest and back. The Gongjak Hyungbae was embroidered with Pyeongeumsa. It is an artifact shown for the first time after repair, as it was severely damaged upon excavation.

It is made of phoenix-patterned silk, and the front and back lengths are the same. There is an opening under the armhole, and a Mu was connected only on the sideline of the front piece to make 4 creases under the armhole, and the remaining 44cm were made for the left and right ends to touch at the middle of the back piece. The lower corners of the outer and inner gussets were folded into a triangle to be fastened. The entire robe was decorated with a circular phoenix pattern for the 13 rows of each of the front and back piece, and the part with the pattern was made with a compound woven fabric.

The sleeve is not folded, and the selvage was entirely used. The side opening has a crease folded 3 times to be attached inside. There is a back opening, and a button knot and string was attached to the outside and inside of the back armpit crease to be able to decrease the back bust width. The fabric is a thin cloud-patterned silk fabric, and the coat string used a dark colored plain-patterned silk.

It is a Wonsam made from cloud-patterned silk. The coat string of the Wonsam had a round neckline like men's Dallyeong in the early Joseon Dynasty, and began to be in the Daegeum shape where the collar meets at the front center from early 17th century, and this Wonsam is an artifact that is verified as showing the earliest Daegeum shape. It was fastened with 3 pairs of button knots, it has a short front and long back with the front being 39cm shorter than the back, there is a Hansam attached to the end of the wide sleeve, the folded Mu has disappeared under the armhole, and is open.

It is an artifact verified to be a Dallyeong-type Wonsam of the latest period. The round neckline of this Wonsam is the shape of the Wonsam of the early Joseon Dynasty, but it also exhibits the characteristics of the Wonsam of the late Joseon Dynasty, such as the Saekdong (multicolor) and Hansam attached on the end of the wide sleeve, and the vanished crease on the side opening. The outer fabric of the Wonsam used a dense and thin fabric with phoenix and peony patterns, and the sleeve used a fine silk with flower patterns. This robe was worn as a shroud, and a large sash was wrapped in a Dongsimgyeol knot.

The left and right collar meets at the center to be fastened in 2 pairs of coat strings, the front is short and the back is long, the sleeve is wide, and there is a Saekdong and Hansam at the end, which is the shape of a typical Wonsam of the late Joseon Dynasty. The outer fabric was made of lotus vine-patterned silk, and had a peony Hyungbae, horizontal 26cm and vertical 24cm, attached on the front and back. The letter Su and a butterfly were embroidered on the center of the peony pattern.

The outer fabric used a luxurious silk with the patterns of cloud, dragon, and the letter Su, and the Su part was embroidered even more impressively with a golden string. The inner fabric was separately made with a lotus vine-patterned silk, which was a lined cloth overlapping each other and having the edges stitched. A decolored lotus vine-patterned silk was attached to the end of the sleeve, but there is no Saekdong, differentiating from other Wonsam. The front is 13cm shorter than the back. The left and right collars meet in the center, and have 3 pairs of coat strings. The outer fabric of the Daedae, the belt, is the same as that of the Wonsam. It is part of a shroud, and had a green color at the time of excavation.

Portrait of Lady Hong

It is a portrait of a Chinese woman that shows the attire of Ming Dynasty women. It can be recognized that Hong was a person from the Ming Dynasty, as it is written on the right, 'Munmyeong Yu-in Hong, Saeng-oh-seong-hwa Jeonghae year December 20 Shin hour, Mor-eo Gajeong Shininsaeng August 15 Sa hour'. However, it is possible that the production date is during the Qing Dynasty, being a copy. The head has a phoenix decoration holding a long marble in its mouth. It has a Dallyeong collar, and has a wide and long sleeve. The Hyungbae has the characteristics of a fantastic giraffe, with a horn on the head, horizontal line on the neck, scales on the body, and the shape of the claw. The side opening appears to have a crease on the inside, and was worn with a long jacket with a cloud pattern and a yellow skirt with flower and treasure patterns in between.

Gyeonggi Provincial Museum
Credits: Story

The exhibition 'The costume, the Pattern of Joseon Dynasty' consists of five parts. Explore more about 'men and women's vest, Baeja' in the fifth part.

Director : Jun, Bo Sam
Exhibition planning : Kim, Joon Kwon / Jeong, Mi Sook
Exhibition support : Lee, Sung Jun / Hur, Mee Hyung / Lee, Ji Hee / Jo, Hyun Yi /
Lee, Young Eun / Jeon, Ik Whan / Heo, Jung Ae / Sim, Kyeong Bo / Lee, Suck Ju / Pak, Young Hee / Choi, Yong Hak / Kim, Choong Sun

Credits: All media
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