The word Norigae means “pretty and playful objects” or “favourite trinkets” and is the name of decorative pendants hung on women’s hanbok. Women of all classeswore them, but the class difference was still visible through the materials used for the norigae as well as its style and size. Its exact origin is uncertain, but the look and way of use known today can be traced back to the Joseon dynasty.
Norigae is made up of the main ornament(주체/juche), the clasp(띠돈/ttidon) and a cord made of knots and tassels(다회/tahoe). The main ornament would often be made by combining silver and gold with precious stones and could contain items like sewing kits or hold perfume. Individual norigae would be named after the materials and motifs used for these main ornaments and the number of strands. For example, a triple-stranded norigae with a gold ornament in the shape of a little boy would be called “Little Boy Gold Three-part Norigae.” The knots are intricate designs that showcase the art of Korean knots(매듭/maedŭp) using styles like lotus knot, butterfly knot, chrysanthemum knot and more.
The iconic and recognisable look of norigae has in recent years been given new form, allowing people to connect with their culture. Designer Nam Ki-youl makes jewellery in the familiar form of the norigae but challenges the tradition by using different materials and telling new stories with his designs. As people don’t wear hanbok as often anymore, he wants to encourage people to incorporate culture into their daily wear, using his norigae-inspired jewellery.
The design of norigae is also reaching the younger generation in a different way. Popularised by a few different artists, norigae tattoo designs are beloved by those with tattoos. These designs are also sometimes just inspired and re-formed, while some stay true to a real norigae. Some have cited that they want these designs because of what they represent as well as their beauty. For them it is a symbol of femininity and duality of womanhood which are seen as both delicate and passionate.
3.Lee, Kyung Ja (2005). Norigae: Splendor of the Korean Costume, Seoul: Ewha Womans University Press