SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Wonsam Sumptuary Codes: Reconstructing royal costume culture at the Chos┼Ćn court

Dr Hyunjung Park (Department of Fashion Business, Jeonju University, Korea)

Date: 26 February 2010Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 26 February 2010Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

Wonsam is an extremely important item of clothing in both contemporary and historical Korean culture. It was a part of the ceremonial costume worn court ladies during the Chosŏn Dynasty, and it is still worn today. Most brides in contemporary South Korea change into a traditional wonsam after the main wedding ceremony.

Previous research on the use of wonsam during the Chosŏn Dynasty had established the use of only four colours. Yellow, red, and purple were thought to have been used only at court; while green was the only colour available to ordinary members of the yangban elite. However, Prof. Park’s research has re-addressed this topic. She published an article about her discovery of several blue wonsam from the early twentieth century in 1999.

This paper extends her investigation in to the colour rank system and textiles of Chosŏn wonsam through an analysis of historical documents relating to the court costume system and of existing examples of clothing worn at court. Overall, her research illustrates the tensions between official royal sumptuary regulations, and the actual practice and costumes produced at the court.

Organiser: Shane McCausland

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