Traditional Korean Embroidery

March 8 - April 5, 2002

Gallery Korea at the Korean Cultural Center New York
(460 Park Ave. 6th Floor, New York, NY 10022)


Traditional Korean Embroidery by Hahn Sang Su

Gallery Korea is pleased to announce an exhibition of Korean Embroidery by Hahn Sang Su. Ms. Hahn, a National Treasure in Korea, continues a traditional craft that extends back thousands of years. Korean embroidery, Jasu, is particularly admired for vivid color schemes and striking designs. In addition to clothing, embroidery embellishes boxes, ornaments and screens, as well as curtains and wrapping cloth. 
Throughout Korean history the color of clothing and various embroidered symbols have identified the social position of people. In the Koryo Dynasty (1215 - 1368), embroidery decorated screens as well as personal items, and was also donated to Buddhist temples. There were occasions, however, when restrictions were placed on indulgence in such extravagant luxury. The succeeding Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1910) established a codification of the embroidered insignia worn by officials in order to distinguish their rank in the civil and military bureaucracy. This required the organization of embroidery studios within central and regional government offices. At this time, when the development of agricultural production superceded that of the craft industries, embroidery became exulted as a virtuous activity for women. In addition to wedding gowns and ceremonial wear, embroidery enriches personal objects such as pouches and cases with symbolic imagery related to good fortune. A broad selection of such items will be on display in Gallery Korea.

Hahn Sang Su was born in 1935 on Jeju Island just off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. She first studied embroidery as a student and eventually so impressed her teachers that she was encouraged to enter a national competition at which she won an award. She began to research Korean traditions in embroidery that had been neglected under the influence of Western modernity and Japanese occupation. In 1963, she opened an institute for the study of embroidery in Seoul. Since then she has published several books on the history of Korean embroidery and in 1984 she was made the first Living Treasure for the Craft of Embroidery.

Miro Yoon