The Gifted Blog

August 18, 2010

Korean Gift Wrapping: Hanji Box

A friend and former workshop participant gave me this beautiful hanji box from Korea. Hanji translates literally as "Korean (han) paper (ji)". Hanji is a traditional paper made from the inner bark of a mulberry tree native to Korea's mountainsides.

E. told me these boxes are readily available for sale and giving gifts in Korea. They are lightweight but very sturdy, and the different colored panels you see are different layers of hanji (even down to the stylized Chinese character on top!). You can make your own hanji goods from kits.


This is a nice contribution to our last reader question about gift wrapping in other cultures. If you haven't gotten a chance to chime in, please do! There are a couple of great comments already. I'm sorry if my initial call for input was intimidating - you needn't be living outside the U.S. or an expert to add your stories!

E., thank you so much for this lovely box. I can't wait to show you how I used it for gift wrapping! Have any of you given or received a gift in a hanji box?

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12 comments:

  1. Interesting post. That's a beautiful box. It's amazing how people think of these things. You know, this made me think if my country has any form of traditional gift wrapping. I should do some research on that. :)

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  2. @20morethings - Go for it and report back!

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  3. What a pretty box! Hmmm, I could use a vintage cigar box in a similar fashion. (that humming sound is the wheels turning in my head)

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  4. @DuhBe - Do it, Luci! Sounds like a nice match with your aesthetic. I can totally see your soaps wrapped up like that.

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  5. Beautiful boxes! Inside Purple is cool. I'm interested in what's the character on top mean...!

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  6. @Makiko - Hm, good question. Does anyone know what the character means? It seems to be highly abstracted; I wonder if it originally had meaning but is just a decorative motif now.

    @Everyone - The friend who gave me the box adds, "I'm glad you like the box. You can also wrap the box around with yarns (e.g. red and blue) and tie them up on top to make a small bow (a store clerk in Korea once showed it to me)."

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  7. Thanks for introducing the hanji box Charissa! :)I'm also curious where that character came from originally. It must be from some Chinese character but now abstracted as a decorative purpose, as you said. I'll update you on this when I find out! Thanks again, I love your photos and introduction!

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  8. The character is the symbol of "long life" I think.

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  9. @E & Sanna - Thanks for your comments! Sanna, appreciate you sharing your thoughts about what the character on top of the box might be. Can anyone confirm?

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  10. I came across a graphic sample of a rich Royal Blue section of the Hanji product and became an immediate fan of the paper. The piece I downloaded was quite textured and the color density varied nicely - once dyed, that stood out a very decent amount to make the paper an artistic piece in its own right.

    You have a nice site, by the way, and a really pleasant internet personna, lol.

    어떤 안부

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  11. @Marc - Yes, it's a beautiful paper! The one you came across sounds very pretty. I'm grateful to my friend for introducing hanji and hanji boxes to me.

    Thank you for the kind compliment, too. Appreciate it!

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