Daenggi: Korean Hair Decoration with a Rich History

Origins back to the Three Kingdoms Period of Korea (57 BCE – 668 CE)

A cloth or string would have been needed to tie the hair together so that it wouldn’t fall apart, so it can be said that Daenggi came into being alongside women’s hairdos. ≪In the 10th chapter of Buksa, it is said that the maidens of Baekje wore their hair braided backwards, while their wives divided it into two and placed it on top of their heads. In Silla, it is recorded that wives braided their hair and wore it on their heads, decorated with silk and pearls.
Goguryeo Tomb murals also show braids, indicating that the three kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla all used Daenggi. In the ≪Goryeo DoKyung≫, it is said that a maiden tied her hair with a red La (cotton fabric) and let the rest of her hair fall back, and when she went out, she turned her hair and tied it with a La (cotton fabric) and put on a small hairpin, which is reminiscent of swallowtail Daenggi and side Daenggi. In the late Goryeo Dynasty, as the country came under the influence of the Mongols, buns became commonplace, and Daenggi became a necessity.

Modern Rivival of Daenggi

In the Joseon Dynasty, virgins and bachelors, as well as wives’ side or topknot hair, also wore braids, making them an even more important ornament. The Daenggi is both practical and decorative, with different colors and materials depending on the status and auspiciousness of the wearer, as well as symbolism depending on the patterns that are disguised. After the flowering period(around the end of 19th Century), with the introduction of short haircuts and Western-style ribbons, the Daenggi gradually disappeared, and nowadays it is only used for special ceremonial occasions. However, with the modern revival of hanbok, the use of Daenggi is expected to increase.

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Vibrant types and uses of Daenggi

There are several types of Daenggi, depending on their purpose, including
For court ladies,
① Four-stranded and two-stranded Daenggi: Court ladies made purple patterned gauze and tied it to the Sae-ang hair(a kind of hairdo worn by palace maidens, hair done up to two locks).
② Red bean leaf Daenggi: Named because the edges curled like red bean leaves, it was used by the courtiers and the maids.
For ceremonial use,
① Panguji Daenggi: A purple Daenggi used for big heads [giant head: Panguji head] in court ceremonies with the Royal highness women.
② Medium Daenggi: A narrow black Daenggi used for the connection part of the floating head in addition to the fish head at court ceremonies.
③ Doturak Daenggi: Also known as a large Daenggi. It is made of black purple silk as a back Daenggi when decorated. It is wider than a normal Daenggi, slightly shorter than the length of a skirt, two-pronged, and decorated with gold leaf on the outside. At the top, it is decorated with a jade plate, and at the bottom, five cicadas made of amber attached to connect the two parts of the Daenggi. There is something similar to this in the northwestern part of the country, called Goi Daenggi.
④ Drim Daenggi: In wedding clothes, it is a front Daenggi paired with a back Daenggi, a Doturak Daenggi, and in other ceremonial clothes, only this front Daenggi, a Drim Daenggi, without a back Daenggi, is used. It is black purple with gold leaf, and the two ends are decorated with pearls and coral beads.
For general use,
① Swallow-beak Daenggi: It was worn by a pigtailed maiden or a bachelor, and the maiden was red and the bachelor was black. Also, the bachelor was made of cloth and had no decoration, but the maiden was made of silk and sometimes gilded, and a jade plate, jade butterfly, or cloisonné butterfly was attached to the Daenggi-go.
② Doturak-Daenggi: The same thing as the Doturak-Daenggi for ceremonial use is made for children. Since the back hair is short, a small feather is attached to the top of the Daenggi, and it is attached tightly under the hair on the back of the head.
③ Pile Daenggi: It is similar to the Doturak Daenggi for children, but it is done before giving the swallow-beak Daenggi after the period of the Doturak Daenggi.
④ JJok Daenggi: It is used for stinging, and it is inserted at the end while braiding the hair to make the beautiful side curve. The colors were red for young people, purple for older people, black for widows, and white for the upper class, and even people over the age of 80 or 90 wore purple braids if their spouse is still alive.

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Text Source from: Encyclopedia of Korean Culture

Translated and edited by Hangulory.com

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