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FINELY WOVEN KOREAN HAT
Late 19th Century
Height 18 cm ( 7.25 in ) Diameter 32 cm ( 12.75 in )
This finely woven hat (gat) of lacquered human hair constructed on the slightest of bamboo frames was made by an extremely skilled craftsman and would have taken a great deal of patience to weave.
The purpose of the high crown was to protect the sangtu, or top-knot and the width of the brim would have denoted the wearer's status within the hierarchy of the civil service. Although originally worn only by nobility; the wearing of these hats was restricted to high ranking men in the Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1897) after they had passed the gwageo which were very demanding civil service examinations which prepared the candidate for a career in government. The tests were initially devised to break the stranglehold of the few aristocratic families who inherited positions of power, and if successful, an official could rise to great heights within the government regardless of his birth.
The Living Races of Mankind Vol I cf. p.159 + 160 pub. Hutchins & Co.
Powerful Headdresses Africa/Asia by Anne Van Cutsem + Mauro Magliani pub. Milan 2010 p.149 + 190
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