It is no coincidence that the hanbok covers almost the entire body. Confucianism has dominated the Korean consciousness for much of the country's history. Integrity in men and chastity in women were the foremost social values of the Choson Dynasty which ruled the peninsula from 1392 to 1910. The hanbok vividly reflects these traditional values, and the various types of hanbok reflect the social status and circumstances of the wearer. The long white top'o overcoat made of fine hemp fabric has long symbolized the dignity and reserve of the traditional gentleman-scholar. Noblewomen of the Choson period wore long coats called chang-ot draped over their heads whenever they went out, because it was considered unseemly for a woman of good breeding to show her face in public.Colors also indicated social status and personal circumstances. Commoners dressed in white except for seasonal festivals or joyous occasions when they dressed in hanbok of bright primary colors. The ruling class, on the other hand, often wore primary colors because they were flattering. Unmarried women traditionally wore yellow chogori and red ch'ima, an attractive combination. After marriage, the color of a woman's ceremonial costume indicated her husband's rank at court. Interestingly the Korean word for clothes, ot, resembles a person, reflecting perhaps a belief that the clothes do, in fact, make the man or woman.
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