Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


The Hwarot is the most sumptuous bridal costume in Korea. Only noble ladies and members of the royal family wore this robe until the late Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Later, commoners were allowed to wear the Hwarot and it is still worn in the contemporary wedding ceremony in Korea. Although the later Hwarot for commoners was plainer, it retained the same design and the structure of the early one.

The earlier Hwarot shows the excellence of gungsu (宮繡), the palace embroidery, of the royal workshop of the Joseon dynasty. Because of the delicate nature of the materials, not many of these early Hwarots are known to remain. Extant early Hwarots were made mostly in the 18th and 19th century. Except for a few princesses’ Hwarots, they are identical in design and in embroidery technique and are made of fine red silk and embellished with embroidered flowers and auspicious symbolic motifs.

Since it was very costly to make the Hwarots, they were repaired and reused from generation to generation by attaching patches and adding stitches. These repairs are quite noticeable, which is different than the usual restoration of textiles. This present study began with the idea that the repairs to the early Hwarots might have their own meanings and that they would have value as a visual documentation of the people and of the time. I will examine the different types of repairs and then discuss what meanings they may contain.