Norigae – Meaning Behind This Korean Traditional Ornaments!


Imagine strolling through a bustling antique market, sunlight glinting off vibrant silks. Your fingers brush against a silken pouch, revealing a cascade of miniature treasures – intricately carved jade turtles, playful silk tassels, and delicate silver bells. These, my friends, are Norigae.

This accessory is more than just pretty trinkets. It’s filled with whispers of stories and wishes woven into thread, and silent guardians tucked against the pulse of Korean tradition.

Let’s take a deeper look at this wonderful jewelry.

Table of Contents

Korean Norigae


Norigae Meaning

Norigae, meaning ‘pretty and playful objects’ or ‘favorite trinkets,’ stands as an essential piece of jewelry for Korean women. 

Woven from silk threads into intricate knots, it’s not only symbolizes femininity but also beckons luck and prosperity. 

Its detailed patterns, diverse colors, and gentle sway with a soft jingling noise add a touch of grace to the simplicity of hanbok.

History of Korean Norigae


Historically, Norigae, is known as ‘yopae 요패‘, an ornament made from cloth and thread.

As time goes by, the material changes and it transformed into ‘Norigae‘ in Joseon dynasty

Women of all classes, from royalty to commoners, embraced this accessory, each style reflecting social status.

Symbols in Norigae

Anatomy of norigae reveals four essential parts:

  • Ddidon (hook)
  • Maedup (knots)
  • Juche (ornament or charm)
  • Sul (tassels)

The tassels, crafted with dahoe (cord), come in various numbers, with danjak (one tassel) and samjak (three tassels) considered as symbols of good luck.

The knots represent animals and plants, pulling in all that good fortune. And the charms? Well, they’re like little stories carved into symbols.

For instance:

  • Ducks stand for the harmony of a married couple – cute, right?
  • Butterflies bring life prosperity, longevity, and marital happiness – like a triple dose of good vibes!
  • Flowers like orchids and lotuses? They’re all about beauty and purity – pretty deep, huh?
  • Chili peppers and eggplants are there to wish you as many sons as possible – a unique twist!
  • Now, tigers, axes, and arrows are like the superhero squad, helping you steer clear of contagious diseases – who knew ink could be so protective?
  • Carps and small bells? They’re like the bodyguards of the tattoo world, keeping evil spirits at bay – talk about a tough tattoo!

Each norigae is a poem, its meaning coded in symbols and shapes, whispers a wish, a silent prayer stitched into silk and jade. 

Even the materials whisper secrets: jade for strength, amber for protection, and mother-of-pearl for wisdom. 

A mother might pin a jade pomegranate, its seeds symbolizing fertility and abundance, on her daughter’s hanbok.

These weren’t just fashion; they were silent prayers, tangible expressions of the Korean soul.

Norigae Tattoo

Renowned tattoo artists like Sion Kwak create amazing norigae tattoo designs that symbolize certain wishes.

It isn’t just random ink on skin – they’re like personal masterpieces with special meanings. 

These artists put their own spin on it, adding unique symbols, colors, and designs.

Norigae Hanbok: A Match Made in Cultural Heaven

norigae hanbok

Norigae Hanbok is another magical arts that creates a cultural charms of beauty. 

The combination of the two creates a symphony of sight and sound, a tangible expression of Korean identity. 

It’s like wearing a piece of history, a conversation starter woven from silk and tradition.


It becomes evident that this ornamental treasure is not merely a relic of the past but a living tradition filled with silent prayers and hope.

From its historical roots to its adaptation in modern times, this accessory continues to sway gracefully, leaving an indelible mark on Korean culture and fashion.

So, the next time you see a it, don’t just admire its beauty. 

Listen closely. What story does it whisper? What wish does it hold? 

And, perhaps most importantly, what story will you weave with your own norigae?


Bonus Info:

  • The oldest known norigae dates back to the Silla Dynasty (57 BC – 935 AD).

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