Many folk cultures around the planet have some traditional ways of showing the marital status of a man or a woman. In the past, people not always wore wedding rings and it was sometimes hard to understand if a person you liked from first sight was available. Korean females used a red ribbon tied to a long braid of hair to indicate that they were single and ready to get married.
This red ribbon worn by Korean maidens is called “daenggi”. It is a rather simple but charming hair accessory. And actually, historically, it isn’t always red, other colors are also used, but red is the most common.
Unmarried Korean ladies usually grew their hair long and braided it in a single plait at the back. There were various hair accessories that could be used to tie the end of a braid, a daenggi among them. On the contrary, married women plaited their long hair in two braids and secured these braids around the crown of the head.
If to talk about the daenggi, there were several variations of it depending on the age of a maiden, her social status, the purpose of the ribbon (whether it was for daily usage or ceremonial occasion, or some festive event, etc). Obviously, village girls and court ladies or royals had very different daenggi – made from different materials, adorned differently, and so on.
Some daenggi are simple and unadorned (just red, pink, burgundy ribbons), others are decorated with gold embroidery, silk embroidery, prints, decorative border at the end, and even jewelry.
For ceremonial purposes, Korean maidens usually used ornate tteoguji daenggi, maegae daenggi, doturak daenggi, and deurim daenggi.
Today, the most popular modern daenggi for young girls’ hair are ribbons in a variety of colors, with triangular ends and some amount of embroidery for embellishment. Although this accessory isn’t mandatory nowadays, Korean maidens often wear it when they dress in traditional attire.