Thursday, August 24, 2017

Korean Pouches :: Around The World From 80 Countries

My post of August 10 included Ruth Hoy's description of dressing up and visiting Chinese relatives for the New Year. The beginning of the Lunar New Year (January 28 in 2017) is also an important holiday in Korea, celebrated by playing games, flying kites, and riding on seesaws. This three-day holiday is primarily a family time when people travel back to their hometown and visit relatives.  They dress up in traditional Korean clothing. Ordinary clothing was usually white or other muted colors, but holiday clothing, especially that of children, was more colorful. Children participate in a ritual (sebae) with deep bows to elders and wishes for good fortune.  Grandparents and other elders give the young children money while parents usually give rice cakes or fruit.  The children put the gifts in a “lucky pouch” or bokjumeoni.   Children will also write their wishes on a slip of paper and place it inside a pouch.  These small bags or purses are used because traditional Korean garments do not contain pockets. 

Although Koreans were using embroidery as early as 108 CE, it has not been as significant form in Korea as it is in China. Embroidery was used on some garments for leaders and for brides, but mostly on accessories such as these pouches. Pouches for children were often embroidered with good luck characters or symbols.  Brides embroidered longevity symbols on pouches for their mother-in-laws. Today, the designs are often printed.
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

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