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Weaving Labor of Women in the Joseon Dynasty through Spinning Process

Nam Mi-Hye 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Since ancient times, the country had consistently encouraged the “male farming, ploughing, and female weaving” and this model of production activity had been embedded in the nation’s tax system for a long time. Since textile production was the work of women, the women of the Joseon Dynasty had to learn the weaving from an early age, and it was regarded as a virtue for women to be good at weaving. Weaving was recommended as a virtue for women during the Joseon Dynasty, but the recommended types of weaving were different depending on their social status. There were four types of fabrics produced by women’s weaving: hemp, ramie, cotton and silk. The production process of textiles was very hard labor, and especially in the spinning process, the intensity of labor was different for each fabric. Silk yarn was lengthy products, so the spinning process was relatively easy and not time-consuming. Also in the case of cotton yarn, the spinning process was not too difficult, because the connection work to make the lengthy yarn was done by using a spinning wheel. On the other hand, for the bast fiber, hemp and ramie, women’s teeth, nails, and knees were used as a working tool for the spinning process. Thus, the hemp and ramie spinning process required the physical exposure of women and frequently involved their physical damage. Through the Joseon Dynasty, the hemp and ramie spinning, which caused women’s physical injuries, were not the recommended work for the noble women. The spinning, which was mostly participated by the noble women during the Joseon Dynasty, was mostly silk and cotton work. For the work of hemp and ramie spinning, which was very difficult and time-consuming, women used to utilize Gilssam Dure, a group laborer. In the Gilssam Dure, there were cotton dure, ramie dure, and hemp dure, but the sericulture was not included, instead it was carried out separately at each farmhouse. Although the weaving work was a very hard labor involving the injuries of women’s bodies, women actively explored their lives by taking it as their job. In the late Joseon Dynasty, several women who grew into an asset were also seen through the weaving. Through the Joseon Dynasty, we can see the strength of Korean women with a firm will, who tried to pioneer their hard life through the weaving.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.