Dragon robes (袞龍袍, pinyin: gǔn lóng páo, hangul: 곤룡포) were the everyday dress of the emperors or kings of China (since the Tang dynasty), Korea (Goryeo and Joseon dynasties), Vietnam (Nguyễn dynasty) and the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Dragons first appeared on robes in the Tang dynasty (618–906 CE), and the Mongols were the first to codify their use as emblems on court robes. As a result, the subsequent Ming emperors shunned them on formal occasions. Though only royals could wear dragons, honoured officials could be granted the privilege of wearing "python robes" (蟒袍 or 蟒衣), which resembled dragons, only with four claws instead of five.
The Royal culture of Joseon influenced that of China. China referred to gonryongpos as hwangnyongpo (hangul: 황룡포; hanja: 黃龍袍), and Joseon called it gonryongpo, and each had a different color. The hwangryongpo of China was yellow, and the gonryongpo of Joseon was red.
There was normally a dragon embroidered in a circle on gonryongpos. When a king or other member of the royal family wore a gonryongpo, they also wore an ikseongwan (익선관, 翼善冠)(a kind of hat), a jade belt, and mokhwa (목화, 木靴) shoes. During the winter months, a fabric of red silk was used, and gauze was used during the summer. Red indicated strong vitality.
Gonryongpos have different grades divided by their color and belt material and a Mandarin square reflecting the wearer's status. The king wore scarlet gonryongpos, and the crown prince and the eldest son of the crown prince wore dark blue ones. The belts were also divided into two kinds: jade and crystal. As for the circular, embroidered dragon design of the Mandarin square, the king wore an ohjoeryongbo (오조룡보, 五爪龍補)--a dragon with 5 toes—the crown prince wore a sajoeryongbo (사조룡보, 四爪龍補)--a dragon with 4 toes—and the eldest son of the crown prince wore a samjoeryongbo (삼조룡보, 三爪龍補)--a dragon with three toes.
Taejo of Joseon's Gonryongpo
Yeongjo of Joseon's Gonryongpo
Gojong of the Korean Empire's Gonryongpo
- Valery M. Garrett, Chinese Clothing: An Illustrated Guide (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 7. (cited in Volpp, Sophie (June 2005). "The Gift of a Python Robe: The Circulation of Objects in "Jin Ping Mei"". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 65 (1): 133–158. doi:10.2307/25066765.)
- Volpp, Sophie (June 2005). "The Gift of a Python Robe: The Circulation of Objects in "Jin Ping Mei"". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 65 (1): 133–158. doi:10.2307/25066765.
- (in Korean) Hanbok's rebirth Kim Min-ja,《Koreana》No.22(Number 2)