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The threads of history, part 2A closer look at the traditional clothes Jeju women wore
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승인 2009.11.26  13:42:41
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A special exhibit, running now until December 12th at the Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum, offers a glimpse into the past of traditional women’s clothing. Part one of this article described the harsh environment Jeju women had to endure. It also explained about the traditional clothing of the children. In part two, attire for marriage, daily living (work and social), religion, and death will be explored. Again, the foundation of Jeju life is jonang, meaning frugality and simplicity, which are seen as virtuous qualities.

Because wedding costumes were more ornate and expensive than everyday clothing, it was not uncommon for the entire village to pitch in to buy material. After they were used for one wedding, they were passed on to the next couple. The same went for ceremonial decorations, such as screens and vessels. Wedding gifts, such as wooden ducks, which represent good marriage, could be handed down from previous generations or made new. Wonsam (wedding clothes) are on display in both the permanent Collection and the special exhibit. Mannequins and photos are displayed to illustrate how the apparel looked when worn. The traditions for marital proceedings are briefly elucidated on plaques.

Similar to the wedding gown was the colorful Hanbok. However, the embellishment was not added for this less formal dress. It could be worn for social events. Layers of undergarments created a more voluptuous appearance to the straight lines of the dress. Plain silk or leather shoes, often with hobnail in the soles to extend the life of the shoe, were worn to compliment the party Hanbok.

To liven up the appearance cosmetics were applied. All of them were made from plant matter. For example, flowers became blush and eye shadow and camellia made a hair oil that added sheen and fragrance to the locks. Black seeds of the “Marvel of Peru” plant could be cracked open to reveal a snow white powder utilized to lighten the appearance of the skin. These items as well as accessories and sewing implements, are shown in the special exhibit room and in the loft above the folklore culture exhibit hall.

A variety of hats are shown in the loft as well. Typically, Jeju locals wore wide brimmed hats fashioned from leather, kudzu vine, felt, and bamboo. Gentleman’s hats, called Gat, were created from loosely woven horse hair brims and caps. Bamboo headbands were woven inside. Finally, Gats were painted with a black lacquer. Mainland officials and their families wore more elaborate hats made of silk and fur.

Corrupt officials and oppressive laws added to the woes of the Jeju women. This difficult social environment placed even more burdens upon them. For these reasons they regularly visited a Dang, or shamanistic ritual shrine, to pray for help with their village’s troubles. This was a place where they were careful of their appearance and actions. They wore plain white garments and offered money inside of cut white paper.

Due to the difficulties on Jeju, the people worked hard. Labor clothes called Galot were worn daily. These loose fitting garments were dyed with unripe persimmon, which gave the fabric a dark tan color with hints of green or orange. This process makes the fabric sweat and bacteria resistant. It also helps block out sunlight. The top is a short jacket that allows freedom of movement. Baggy pants or shorts were worn. All articles of Galot were mended many times so that their lifespan could be extended. Capes and hats made of layers of dried grass were used to protect the wearer from rain. Canoe shaped wooden clogs, with two square bases, were used to elevate the feet above puddles of water. Woven straw shoes were used for daily activities.

After years of hard work, Whan-gap was celebrated. This was a meal to congratulate one’s parents for reaching their 60th birthday. Today, this celebration is not as common because people are living well beyond 60 years. When a person passed away, Jeju people believed hemp clothes were the best for burial. Perhaps, it is because they were given hemp clothing when they were newborns. Each person was to sew their own burial garments long before their death. It was believed to give them longevity if they prepared these clothes early in life. Burial clothes consisted of a one piece jacket, which did not have buttons. One long ribbon was tied in the front, so during the funeral, a family member would untie it to symbolize the releasing of the spirit.

The museum is located in Jeju City Hall. There is a giant red dolhareubang(stone grandfather) sculpture in the parking lot. The historical site, Samsunghyeol is next door. The cost for entry is 1100 won. Jeju residents enter for 500 won. Group and student rates are available. Hours from October-April are 9a.m to 6p.m and May-September from 9a.m-8p.m. The museum is open seven days a week.
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