Sambe

Sambe

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Clothing

Writer BaeYoungdong(裵永東)

Hemp fabric made by stripping the bark of hemp plants to make thread that is woven into cloth.

Sambe is one of the major traditional textiles used in Korea, along with cotton, ramie, and silk. It is cloth made by peeling the bark off hemp plants and splitting it into thin strips to make the threads, which go through a number of different processes before they are woven on the loom. Of all the traditional textiles, hemp cloth was the most common and was worn by the ordinary people. Myeongju silk was a high-class textile, ramie was so fragile that it tended to crumble by the time winter came around, and cotton only appeared after cotton seeds were introduced to Korea. Unlike silk, which comes from animals, hemp comes from plants, like ramie and cotton. Historically, hemp is the oldest Korean textile and was made and used around the country. The book Joseonbu (Chin. Zhaoxianfu) written by the Ming Dynasty envoy Dong Yue (董越) in 1490 mentions the phrase “poijingma” (布而織麻), which means “Joseon fabric is made with hemp.” This attests to the production of cloth with the hemp plant during the Joseon period.

Like ramie, hemp cloth allows good air circulation and is consequently used to make items for hot humid summers, such as light clothing or unlined blankets. It was also used widely in funerals. The Book of Rites says shrouds and mourning clothes are made of hemp. Hemp was a common material used by the ordinary people and mandating the use of hemp for mourning clothes allowed all people to carry out funeral rites properly. Mourning clothes were made of coarsely woven hemp cloth with a low thread count because seeing one’s parents die was considered the result of a lack of filial piety. An unfilial child was considered a sinner, and thus coarse hemp mourning clothes were worn as a sign of the sinner. Hemp cloth rapidly began to disappear going into the second half of the 20th century. Production dropped drastically when machine-made textiles were widely supplied. With legislation of the hemp control act in 1976, hemp growing and production sites were controlled nationwide. Today, only a small number of regions produce hemp cloth, which in industrial society has become a luxury, high-quality fabric. When traditional cotton (mumyeong) was replaced by calico, and silk was made by machine, hemp cloth, which could not be made in factories, rose in value and maintained its tradition as a handcraft. These days hemp cloth is mostly used to make shrouding garments.

Sambe

Sambe
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Clothing

Writer BaeYoungdong(裵永東)

Hemp fabric made by stripping the bark of hemp plants to make thread that is woven into cloth.

Sambe is one of the major traditional textiles used in Korea, along with cotton, ramie, and silk. It is cloth made by peeling the bark off hemp plants and splitting it into thin strips to make the threads, which go through a number of different processes before they are woven on the loom. Of all the traditional textiles, hemp cloth was the most common and was worn by the ordinary people. Myeongju silk was a high-class textile, ramie was so fragile that it tended to crumble by the time winter came around, and cotton only appeared after cotton seeds were introduced to Korea. Unlike silk, which comes from animals, hemp comes from plants, like ramie and cotton. Historically, hemp is the oldest Korean textile and was made and used around the country. The book Joseonbu (Chin. Zhaoxianfu) written by the Ming Dynasty envoy Dong Yue (董越) in 1490 mentions the phrase “poijingma” (布而織麻), which means “Joseon fabric is made with hemp.” This attests to the production of cloth with the hemp plant during the Joseon period.

Like ramie, hemp cloth allows good air circulation and is consequently used to make items for hot humid summers, such as light clothing or unlined blankets. It was also used widely in funerals. The Book of Rites says shrouds and mourning clothes are made of hemp. Hemp was a common material used by the ordinary people and mandating the use of hemp for mourning clothes allowed all people to carry out funeral rites properly. Mourning clothes were made of coarsely woven hemp cloth with a low thread count because seeing one’s parents die was considered the result of a lack of filial piety. An unfilial child was considered a sinner, and thus coarse hemp mourning clothes were worn as a sign of the sinner. Hemp cloth rapidly began to disappear going into the second half of the 20th century. Production dropped drastically when machine-made textiles were widely supplied. With legislation of the hemp control act in 1976, hemp growing and production sites were controlled nationwide. Today, only a small number of regions produce hemp cloth, which in industrial society has become a luxury, high-quality fabric. When traditional cotton (mumyeong) was replaced by calico, and silk was made by machine, hemp cloth, which could not be made in factories, rose in value and maintained its tradition as a handcraft. These days hemp cloth is mostly used to make shrouding garments.