September 12, 2008 10:02
One of the country's biggest traditional holidays is upon us, and with it the question what to wear. Since the Chuseok holiday is fairly short this year from Saturday through Monday, not many may bother to dress in hanbok, traditional Korean costume, because it takes too much effort to wear it right. But Kim Ye-jin, a hanbok expert, says, "It will be a good thing to wear hanbok and reflect on the wisdom of our ancestors in today's harsh times." And it is better still if we have some knowledge about hanbok, like the meaning of its colors.
◆ For Men, Topcoat Is a Must
Men's formal attire is completed by a topcoat or durumagi over the hanbok. It has wide sleeves and openings in the back. When performing the ancestral ceremonies, it is best to wear the complete package.
◆ For Women, Navy Skirt and Pendant
Traditionally, women wore blue skirts for happy occasions and big events. The color has joyous and congratulatory connotations and is therefore just right for Chuseok. For the upper body, wear a blouse called samhoejang-jeogori whose neckband, end band of sleeve, armhole and cloth string called goreum used to tie the upper bodice of hanbok are in different colors from the main body, or banhoejang-jeogori where the neckband, end band of sleeve and goreum only are in different colors from the main body.
In the past, no woman who had not given birth to a boy was allowed to wear a purple goreum. The norigae is a pendant trinket worn by women to show off their wealth and class. How to wear it differed according to seasons, materials and size; middle-class women usually wore fabric, handkerchief and ornamental knives.
◆ For Children, Striped Jacket and Hood
Children wore a five-colored striped jacket until they were six or seven. Each color represents a point of the compass -- blue for east, white for west, red for south, black for north and yellow for the center -- and symbolizes longevity and a healthy life.
Girls wore earflaps or fur hats, and adolescent girls braided their hair and wore red pigtail ribbons until they got married. Boys wore a hood made from a single piece of fabric, and those from wealthy families had them adorned with gold. Even today, on their first birthday and on holidays, babies wear a striped jacket and hood or earflaps.
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