After I finished my personal core wardrobe color chart, I suddenly wondered if the colors I ended up had anything to do with the local traditional colors of Korea. Because Koreans have such a conformist coloring -- black hair, black-brown eyes, beige skintone, I wondered if the colors that my ancestors wore in their Hanbok had already accomplished the best color combinations that I could refer to for my color combinations.
The research led me to the exploration of the O-bang-saek and O-gan-saek which are the 10 colors that had distinct color-names to them. The O-bang-saek were colors regarded as Yang energy which also mean the 5 directional colors. As far as I can see, this is very closely related to Feng-Shui elements with Earth Yellow in the center representing Stability, and the four directions North, South, West, and East each having a color representation also.
As these 5 colors represented the whole world, they were regarded as special and often were used to wish blessings, health, prosperity, and health.
Note bene. After going back to my research material, I am noticing I have made an error. Along with the word O-bang-saek, there is another word O-jeong-saek. For now, to my understanding, the former relates to the 5 elements of Fengshui and the Bagua. And when it applies to color itself, they call the Yang group of colors O-jeong-saek. So from this point on, when you see the word O-bang-saek, please note that if I were to be technically correct, they should've been written O-jeong-saek instead. I am sorry for this inconvenience!
The five source colors shown in this Blessings-Pouch are given below with Korean sounds for each of them:
- White (Baek-saek)
- Black (Heuk-saek)
- Yellow (Hwang-saek)
- Red (Jeog-saek)
- Blue (Cheong-saek)
I had not consciously made the connection but these colors so local to Korea are easily seen in Korean food colors.
I'm including the above photos to make a point about how the 5 colors that we now call Red, Blue, Yellow, White, and Black and what my ancestors would have called 5 directional colors. Because color pigments from long ago would have to come from natural sources, a lot of them would not be the kinds of explosive, intense, artificially manufactured colors. So please bear in mind that what you and I call Red, Blue, Yellow, White, and Black may be slightly different than what the original names suggest!
Here below is a picture of a Moo-Dang. I can now see how those intense rich and dynamic colors that they wear come directly from the O-bang-saek. Note how he is holding the 3 primary colors on the left, and 2 colors black and white on the right.
Here, I can see how the colors used for this hunter is ONLY using the Yang/Directional colors, and no intermediary colors. See below for a chart on those! This is an image of the Spirit of Goguryeo people found in a Goguryeo tomb. He is riding a horse in colors white and black; he himself is wearing the colors red and yellow. Of course it is possible that the artist for various reasons may have used such restricted colors, but I think it is quite possible to believe also that this was done intentionally to express the Yang characteristic of Goguryeo people. Among the three kingdoms that ruled in the Korean peninsula, these people were the most enterprising and most eager to expand their territory. Or at least that's what I've been told. :-P
And here are some diagrams explaining the O-bang-saek and O-gan-saek. The colors that were created by mixing the O-bang-saek, 5 Directional Colors were called O-gan-saek, which basically means 5 Intermediary Colors.
So mixing black and red gives you this purple color. Black mixed with yellow gives you the richer gold/tan color. Yellow and blue gives you green, although traditionally the blue in Chinese character "Cheong" is not the blue we call blue, it actually is a blue-green color so it actually encompasses blue AND green! So if you read Korean poetry, you'll see that the word "Cheong" is used to describe both the sky color and the grass color! And then you get the pink from white and red, followed by blue mixed with white which gives you a skyblue color. Hmmm, I am not certain but even the Red that we call red might be different than you think because the Korean traditional Red is more like a tomato red I think (don't quote me on this yet!) and it is possible in some sources to quote red mixed with white being orange. Again going back to my previous assumption, the white found in nature, is not going to be the pure white from a paint tube; it is more likely to be a cream or ivory color with a little bit of coloration, in which case it is plausible to find that particular red and white creating an Orange.
In the diagram below, the squares are the O-bang-saek, and the circles are the O-gan-saek. What's particularly neat about these is that with the distinct 4 seasons of Korean climate, there's always a cycle of Birth/Death/Rebirth... and although there are slight variations each year, there's always that cyclical expectation of Seasonal Colors that are the source of new colors in Fashion/Interior trends.
So to summarzie, the O-gan-saek that are created by mixing O-bang-saek are:
For those of you who want to know more about the traditional Korean colors and their names... here's a chart for you!
Image credit: http://www.gosinga.net/archives/1120
Now in the color chart below, you can see the top row made up of the 5 Directional Yang Colors. And the bottom row made up of 5 Intermediary Yin Colors. I'm really loving this chart right now, because this can now help me create my combinations of Core Wardrobe Color Combos with the Basic Principle of mixing Yin and Yang!
For instance, if I want a basic 2 color combination for my outfit and I wanted only Yang energy, I would pick 2 colors from the top row. If I wanted a mixture of Yang AND Yin, I'd pick one from each row. Then if I only want to have Yin colors for top and bottom, or inner and outer, I can just choose the colors from the bottom row.
Of course, it would get quite complex once you start doing accessories in different colors, and you could end up with 3 color combo's now!
OK. Well. I hope these Yang-Yin color groupings really add to your Core Wardrobe Color Strategy! Because this is why I've researched it for myself. :->
It is said that all our skin tones regardless of race and ethnic origins are a version of Orange according to Irenee Riter:
So, I think the traditional colors using natural dye CAN help us in creating our core wardrobe colors better than going with the paint-tube-colors. They will always be a closer approximation to our natural colors, right? :->
In closing, I share with you these beautiful Korean bowls. You can see the colors from nature that correlate to Red - Black - Blue - Yellow - White.
Happy color-strategizing to you!!!