Monday, September 22, 2008

Pretty as a Hanbok!

So you might have noticed a change in the decor around here. If you wondered at the bright stripes framing the blog, it is to mirror the sleeves of a korean hanbok. I've posted an example of one below. This one is from a Korean museum and probably represents a wedding hanbok. The top photo is the front view and the bottom is of the back.



Copyright Momboleum via Creative Commons license via Flickr.com

Here's one of a child's hanbok - worn for the all important first birthday celebration.

Historically, the hanbok dates as far back as 57B.C., as evidenced by wall murals found in the burial sites of ancient kings. Personally I find hanboks incredibly beautiful and much more comfortable than the Japanese kimono. Let's compare:

Copyright Okinawa Soba via Creative Commons license via Flickr.com


See how the kimono wraps very tight and narrow around the woman's boy? I have worn a kimono, there is no way to take a normal step in that narrow skirt. You have to mince forward, taking baby steps, causing you to feel as if you will topple over and fall flat on your face. The obi is tied so tight around the waist to insure that no woman will overeat while the breasts are flattened to shape the incredibly sexy form of a number 2 pencil. Due to the tightness of the kimono, you cannot run. You can perhaps waddle very quickly, but it may cause you to tilt from side to side so drastically that caution is advised when in a hurry. With much practice over many, many years, a fast trot can be achieved. You must retain a perfectly straight-backed and balanced torso even as your feet move in a road runner like blur. And what the heck is up with that samurai hairstyle? Let me clarify that I love the look of the kimono (not the hair though). I think it is an elegant and incredibly beautiful outfit which also doubles as an instrument of torture. However, if flesh eating zombies are after me, I would be ripping that thing off and running in my skivvies.

Now let's compare the Korean hanbok.

Copyright by photoren via Creative Commons license via Flickr.com

You can't help but notice immediately the wide flowing skirts, right? Now here's a skirt you can run in! Here's a skirt you can kick a man in the tenders in! Since I own several hanboks I can assure you that the skirts are flowing, comfortable pieces that make you feel like absolute royalty. And the hair is tied back in a simple bun with some beautiful accessories to compliment it. Now granted, the hanbok does have the chest flattening top. For some reason, Koreans believe that the hanbok looks better if it is draped over a flat chest. So if you happen to be busty, the nice hanbok lady will try to smush you flat with a tight undergarment tied so tight that you may need an oxygen tank. But hey, at least your legs are free!

So why are we talking about hanboks? Well I wanted to share a little excerpt from my book and it just so happens to be a description of a hanbok.

General Kang and Lieutenant Lee walked out together, to where their men waited for instructions. As they left, the anxious Queen stopped them, her long curtain of ebony hair swept down her back nearly to her heels. She wore a light green satin hanbok with red silk trim over a full brown skirt. Lee couldn’t help but notice that her robe had the characters for luck embroidered in gold all over the shoulders and sleeves. He smiled grimly - for luck, it seemed, had abandoned them.

So what is the book about? Well it is what I would call historical fantasy based in ancient Korea during a time where there were many small kingdoms, but no unified country. It is about a young prince faced with the invasion of his home and an old prophecy that calls for a savior he may or may not be. It utilizes East Asian mythology and legends while working off of the historical times of the late 300 AD period. Stay tuned for more to come.

26 comments:

pacatrue said...

You're gonna make me pull out my Korean history book again, aren't you? Well, its not going to work, Miss. I already turned it back into the library. So there. You better have bone armor in there, though, since we once discussed it.

angelle said...

hi there! totally belated but wanted to congratulate u on getting an agent! haven't been keeping up with the blogs recently -- amazing how much less likely u are to procrastinate online once u are no longer working an office job and actually have to do school work... anyway, that's awesome!!!! next stop: big publishing house!!!! =D

Vesper said...

Hello Ello!
Wow! What a great interesting post! Beautiful pictures and the hanbok is fantastic! Incredibly beautiful...

Your blog looks very nice. I love it! I think it suits you much much better than the flowers you had previously.

Thank you for the fragment from your novel. Loved it! Looking forward to reading more.

Precie said...

Ooohhhhhh! Fascinating! Can't wait 'til it comes out...I'm sure it will. :)

Colorado Writer said...

I love the new look, the new title...


HELLO ELLO!

moonrat said...

oo! they are pretty. i've never read this much about korean dress before! see, already you're enlightening the world :)

Bernita said...

So very beautiful...

Demon Hunter said...

Yay! I cannot wait to read your book!! :-) Thanks for sharing the excerpt and for discussing hanboks. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Cool. Nice excerpt. I hope to hear more. Personally, though, I think I'll be OK in jeans and a t-shirt.

Sustenance Scout said...

Love the new look and title, Ello! You've been busy! K.

cindy said...

i love hanboks!! esp for their material and colors! thanks for the gorgeous fotos, ello!

Jacqui said...

I love the new look. And am intrigued to read more...

The Anti-Wife said...

No kimonos for me. The hanboks look far more comfortable. Can they be worn with bunny slippers?

strugglingwriter said...

Love the new theme and header.

Thanks for the interesting info also!

Larramie said...

Hello Ello! This is absolutely gorgeous -- let alone fascinating -- and there's no doubt many more readers will find their way here.

Vivid is the word for the blog and post text!

Sarah Hina said...

Beautiful inspiration for the new blog look! I agree with you--the hanbok is a huge improvement over the kimono, and so graceful, too.

And I'm glad to know you'll be sharing more about the book, and its journey to publication, in the future. :)

Lana Gramlich said...

I love the hanboks! So colorful & flowing, like art to be worn. Love your new title image, too! I feel like a little ant, looking up through all of that beauty at the sun. Being only 4'11" tall, I often feel that way, but the photo's much more lovely than looking up peoples' noses all the time.

Mimzy said...

A bit off subject, but mentioning Korean fantasy made me think of a fantastic show I saw over the summer. It was called 태왕사신기 (Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi) or as I saw it referenced in english; 'The Legend of the Four Gods.'

It was an absolutely beautiful series. The acting was fantastic, the costumes were to die for, and the plot dragged you in and made you forget everything else. Supposedly, the plot was a fantasy retelling of Korea's origins and how they unified the country.

Unfortunately, to see it one has to download it off the internet and have the patience to sit through 20+ one hour episodes of subtitles... But it's fantastic nonetheless and it really gave me a craving for more oriental fantasy.

Steve Malley said...

Ju ta!

Or something like that. I'm learning bits of Korean in my 'spare time', more slowly learning which bits are actually obscenities the Korean kids thought it'd be funny to hear me say!

(And of course, I can only spell it the way it sounds...)

Kim Kasch said...

Hey I work in a law firm in Portland, Oregon. And one of my best friends, from Malaysia, gave me a couple Saris. Not such a piece of artwork as the ones you have pictured but a taste of another culture.

Thanks for sharing.

Ello said...

Thanks everyone! So good to see you all here and enjoying this post. I'll have more interesting stuff to come.

Oooh! Mimzy! I want to see it! Is that the one based on the ancient kingdom of Koguryo? I'm looking it up! Thanks for letting me know!

Steve - that's pretty darn good! Although I think it would be Joh tah - for that's good. But hey, my Korean is pretty horrid myself! ;o)

Kim - I adore saris! Beautiful comfortable and lightweight. And no flat chests! They are terrific!

Mimzy said...

It's actually the kingdom of Goguryeo which is probably different from Koguryo in name only. Here's the wiki page so you don't have to look too hard. :P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_First_King%27s_Four_Gods

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about those stripes, they're so beautiful. Thanks for explaining their significance, and for the cool excerpt from your novel.

Oh - and the darker font is much easier to read now!

- Tinamarie

JaneyV said...

The hanboks are incredible and I agree with you that their full skirt is preferable. The fabrics and decorations are breathtaking. I would love to see what the hair decorations look like too.

Love the new look! And the excerpt from the book has me yelling MORE! MORE! Can't wait to see it in print.

Angie said...

That back is gorgeous! Is that all embroidery? [squint]

And I love the idea for your book! Fantasies based on non-European history and mythology are too few and far between.

Angie

alicia nong said...

I love the hanbok design as well~ and if I'm not bothering you, may I also suggest wearing an Ao Dai? (pronounce OW YAI...a Vietnamese traditional dress) You can also run in them and be able to move your legs freely. And here's the thing: no chest binding required!! The dress can comfortably hug your body, making you look slimmer and the skirt (and silk pants underneath) flows as you walk. You can wear high heels with it too (optional)! There are designs that are quite lovely if you look close enough.

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