Hwarot

Hwarot

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Korean Clothing

Traditional red women’s wedding robe embroidered with auspicious designs.

One of the major bridal garments of the Joseon Dynasty, along with the wonsam, the hwarot is an embroidered robe that has its origins in the hongjangsam, a red bridal robe worn by royalty. According to Geoga japbokgo (Kor. 거가잡복고, Chin. 居家雜服考, Eng. Research on Family Clothing). Hongsam, the red bridal robe worn by the wives of princes was adopted by ordinary people for their wedding attire. This is based on the custom of allowing people to use the items or clothes of a high-ranking official on special occasions.

In the Confucian society of Joseon, lavishly embroidered garments were strictly banned, except for children’s clothes. But hwarot richly decorated with auspicious designs were permitted on the wedding day, which was supposed to be the happiest event in a person’s life.

Hwarot were divided into the court version and the version worn in ordinary homes. There are two court hwarot handed down to the present. They are thought to be the hwarot of Princess Bogon (1818-1832), second daughter of King Sunjo, worn for rites held in 1830. Replicas of court hwarot, the originals of which were lost in a fire at Changdeokgung Palace in 1959, are now preserved at Ewha Womans University Museum and the Seokjuseon Memorial Museum at Dankook University, respectively. These two court hwarot are very different in terms of embroidery and the overall composition and form of decoration.

Princess Bogon’s hwarot features various embroidered flower and jewel designs and gold leaf duck medallion designs, and a hwarot of similar type is preserved at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (no. 33156). The hwarot in the Brooklyn Museum (no. 27.99.77.4) and the National Museum of Korea are partially decorated with the same type of embroidered flower design. Some of the embroidery designs preserved at the National Palace Museum, including the pattern for the hwarot worn by Princess Deogon, also feature a similar flower design as that on the hwarot of Princess Bogon. Except for a few examples, most hwarot relics have the same embroidery and composition as those from Changdeokgung Palace. This is because rather than the strongly decorative embroidery on the hwarot of Princess Bogon, people preferred the embroidery on the Changdeokgung hwarot, which contained rich symbolism related to marriage.

Hwarot from modern times worn in private homes mostly belong to the Changdeokgung type, though rather than following the typical designs they show individuality through modification of the designs. Filled with beautiful designs expressing wishes that the bride and groom have many children and live happily with their families for a long time, the hwarot is a garment that not only makes the bride look beautiful but it also has the nature of a talisman to express blessings for the bride in her new life.

Compared to the wonsam, which was very different when worn in the court and when worn in ordinary families, the hwarot, whether of the royal court or private homes was a red robe decorated with embroidery, both having the same characteristics in terms of shape. Therefore, it is considered the most beautiful women’s garment representative of the Joseon Dynasty.

Currently, hwarot relics are preserved in the museums of not only Korea but also the United States, England, the Netherlands, and Germany. This is because early modern hwarot, which were beautifully embroidered robes and wedding robes at the same time, were acquired by overseas collectors in the 1920s when Korea opened its ports to foreign trade.

Hwarot

Hwarot
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Clothing

Writer

Traditional red women’s wedding robe embroidered with auspicious designs.

One of the major bridal garments of the Joseon Dynasty, along with the wonsam, the hwarot is an embroidered robe that has its origins in the hongjangsam, a red bridal robe worn by royalty. According to Geoga japbokgo (Kor. 거가잡복고, Chin. 居家雜服考, Eng. Research on Family Clothing). Hongsam, the red bridal robe worn by the wives of princes was adopted by ordinary people for their wedding attire. This is based on the custom of allowing people to use the items or clothes of a high-ranking official on special occasions.

In the Confucian society of Joseon, lavishly embroidered garments were strictly banned, except for children’s clothes. But hwarot richly decorated with auspicious designs were permitted on the wedding day, which was supposed to be the happiest event in a person’s life.

Hwarot were divided into the court version and the version worn in ordinary homes. There are two court hwarot handed down to the present. They are thought to be the hwarot of Princess Bogon (1818-1832), second daughter of King Sunjo, worn for rites held in 1830. Replicas of court hwarot, the originals of which were lost in a fire at Changdeokgung Palace in 1959, are now preserved at Ewha Womans University Museum and the Seokjuseon Memorial Museum at Dankook University, respectively. These two court hwarot are very different in terms of embroidery and the overall composition and form of decoration.

Princess Bogon’s hwarot features various embroidered flower and jewel designs and gold leaf duck medallion designs, and a hwarot of similar type is preserved at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (no. 33156). The hwarot in the Brooklyn Museum (no. 27.99.77.4) and the National Museum of Korea are partially decorated with the same type of embroidered flower design. Some of the embroidery designs preserved at the National Palace Museum, including the pattern for the hwarot worn by Princess Deogon, also feature a similar flower design as that on the hwarot of Princess Bogon. Except for a few examples, most hwarot relics have the same embroidery and composition as those from Changdeokgung Palace. This is because rather than the strongly decorative embroidery on the hwarot of Princess Bogon, people preferred the embroidery on the Changdeokgung hwarot, which contained rich symbolism related to marriage.

Hwarot from modern times worn in private homes mostly belong to the Changdeokgung type, though rather than following the typical designs they show individuality through modification of the designs. Filled with beautiful designs expressing wishes that the bride and groom have many children and live happily with their families for a long time, the hwarot is a garment that not only makes the bride look beautiful but it also has the nature of a talisman to express blessings for the bride in her new life.

Compared to the wonsam, which was very different when worn in the court and when worn in ordinary families, the hwarot, whether of the royal court or private homes was a red robe decorated with embroidery, both having the same characteristics in terms of shape. Therefore, it is considered the most beautiful women’s garment representative of the Joseon Dynasty.

Currently, hwarot relics are preserved in the museums of not only Korea but also the United States, England, the Netherlands, and Germany. This is because early modern hwarot, which were beautifully embroidered robes and wedding robes at the same time, were acquired by overseas collectors in the 1920s when Korea opened its ports to foreign trade.