Attire of Royal Court Women

National Palace Museum of Korea

Royal ladies of the Joseon dynasty wore garments and personal ornaments that symbolized their rank in the royal court. The court dresses, such as Pheasant-Patterned Ceremonial Robe(jeogui) worn by queens and princesses for formal occasions include robes decorated with symbolic creatures, and lavishly decorated pouches and items of jewelry that only the court ladies were permitted to wear. 

Queen’s Pheasant-Patterned Ceremonial Robe
Strict rules applied to the queen’s ceremonial robes, shoes, hats, and hair ornaments; the vestments depended on the character of the occasion.                      The pheasant-patterned ceremonial robe 'Jeokui(翟衣)' was the queen’s official clothing worn during the most important ceremonies, such as the queen’s investiture 'Chaekbiui(冊妃儀)', entrance to the palace 'Chinyeonui(親迎儀)', and the consummation ritual 'Dongroeyeon(同牢宴)' of the wedding ceremony.

The decorations on the pheasant-patterned ceremonial robe were naturally full of symbolic meaning. The pheasant symbolized love and a long life together in marriage, and were embroidered in five colors of blue, white, red, black, and yellow, each color symbolizing benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trust. These were the virtues that the queen was expected to embody.

Round patches with five-clawed dragon designs Ojoryong(五爪龍) embroidered with gold thread were also attached on the breast, back, and both shoulders. The pheasant-patterned robe, originally made of red silk, was worn by the queen and crown princess until the end of the dynasty, and changed
into blue after the king and queen were elevated to the status of emperor and empress in 1897.

When putting on the pheasant robe, an inner robe Jungdan(中單) was worn underneath,

and was decorated with a belt Daedae(大帶), a rear drapery Su(綬),

an apron covering the knees Pyeseul(蔽膝), a jade belt Okdae(玉帶), and jade girdle ornaments on both sides Paeok(佩玉).

The queen then wore blue socks Cheongmal(靑襪) and blue shoes Cheongseok(靑舃).

'Wonsam(圓衫)' was a ceremonial robe worn by the queen dowager, royal concubines, and members of the inner court, which had a shorter front than back and wide sleeves with open sides. The color and shape of the robe differed according to the position of the wearer: yellow for the empress, red for the queen, purple for the crown princess, and green for the princess. 
Court ceremonial jackets 'Dangui(唐衣)' were worn for minor ceremonies in the palace 'Soryebok(小禮服)', and the women of the literati class 'Banga(班家)' wore these as ceremonial garments. They were layered on top of the traditional Korean jacket 'Jeogori', and were named according to their color: 'Yeondu Dangui' for green, 'Jaju Dangui' for plum, 'Namsong Dangui' for azure, and 'Baeksaek Dangui' for white. 

They were double- or single-layered depending on the season, and gold patterns were imprinted on them for decoration

Hair Ornaments
Hair ornaments included hairpins, quivering pins, and back pins. Their name differed according to their material or shape: jade pin (Bichwijam), coral hairpin (Sanhojam), pearl hairpin (Jinjujam), phoenix hairpin (Bong jam), dragon hairpin (Yong jam), plum and bamboo hairpin(Maejukjam), bamboo hairpin (Jukjam), bamboo piece hairpin (Jukjeoljam), flower petal hairpin (Hwayeopjam), orchid hairpin (Garanjam), magnolia hairpin (Mokryeonjam), walnut hairpin (Hodojam, 胡桃簪), large phoenix hairpin (Deabongjam), pomegranate hairpin (Seokryujam), and stake hairpin (Malttukjam), among others. Hairpin materials included silver, gold-plating, nickel, brass, jade, coral, pearl, wood, bone, and glass. 
Pendants called 'Norigae' are traditional decorations hung on the waistband of the skirt to be shown below the jacket. Originally, these were restricted to queens, royal concubines, princesses, wives of princes, and the literati. Chief ladies-in-waiting could also wear them on their ceremonial robes during national events such as the royal wedding. Ladies-in-waiting wore them only once, on the day of their “Coming of Age Ceremony.” In late Joseon, their use expanded to not only the upper class but also to commoners, who wore them at important family festivities. 
Pouches were worn by men and women of all ages to hold items inside their clothing. Although small, they were carefully made and considered precious wedding gifts of the royal family. Pouches were also granted as presents to the royal kindred and ministers on the first pig day(Haeil, 亥日) and mouse day(Jail, 子日) of the New Year.  Purses had either angular or round corners depending on their shape, and were either stamped or embroidered with gold. The outer fabric was usually red, blue, plum, azure, or green silk embroidered with the ten symbols of longevity, a basket with five blessing flowers, or the Chinese characters “Subok(壽福)” (long life and blessings). All kinds of gold and silver crafts were also adhered. They were produced collaboratively among several separate specialty rooms within the palace. The sewing room sewed the pouches, which were then handed off to the embroidery room for the embroidery of patterns, and finally completed at the knotting room where artisans added the strings and knots.
Credits: Story


Yoon-hee Park

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