Veiling of Korean Women: The Neo-Confucian Influence in Comparison to the Veiling of Muslim Women
Keywords:veiling of women, korean, muslim
AbstractThe phenomenon of veiling of women in Muslim culture also occurred in pre-modern Korea. Sseugae, a type of veil, was worn by noble women in Korea during the Yi Dynasty to conceal their faces. In a society, strictly ruled by the Confucian philosophy and ideals, women’s outdoor activities were extremely restricted. Noble ladies traveled by human-carried palanquin, colorfully draped and protected from viewing by strangers, wearing veils of different types denoting their noble statuses. In this paper I will present who among the Korean women were expected to wear what types of veils in which circumstances. I will describe how the Confucianism permeated and dictated the value system and social morals of the early Korean society. I will also describe the highly stratified Korean societal structure in which women in various stations were expected to behave according to their fathers’ or husbands’ statuses and to dress differently including their headdresses. The significance of this paper will be in examining the cultural aspects of women having had to wear veils in a paternalistic, patriarchal and hierarchical society with pervasive Confucius ideological and moral standards. I will also review the historical transformation of the practice of women wearing veils as Korea, as a nation, and her traditional society evolved into modernity, painfully and forcibly, largely under external pressures and influences. My conclusion will show the significance in the customs of dressing and veiling in Korea in comparison to those of the Muslim women in different countries of the region within the cultural, political, and religious contexts.
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