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A Korean folk-art inspiration for Abba costume?

ABBA tops

Burning issue of 2015: was Frida from Abba’s 1975 Owe Sandström designed cat costume inspired by this Korean 민화 (‘minhwa’, folk art) tiger painting?

Minhwa tiger

A lengthy Google trawl revealed nothing conclusive. The Abba museum in Stockholm replicates the design on mugs, t shirts and keyrings but to me they look like souvenirs from Insadong.

You can see the costumes in action here:

…or purchase your T-shirt direct from the Abba Museum shop here

The cat T-shirt

(Abba photo credit: Premium Rockshot/Bengt H Malmqvist)

3 thoughts on “A Korean folk-art inspiration for Abba costume?

  1. I was at the ABBA museum in Stockholm the other day and, as a Korean myself, extremely confused at this cat costume. The more I looked at the details that it had, the more convinced I was that it was not accidental but rather a direct reinterpretation of the Korean tiger, but like you, I’ve failed to find any assuring information so far. I also tried Daum and Naver with such keywords as ‘아바’ and ‘호랑이’ to no avail. So my real question is, why hasn’t the Korean ABBA fandom paid any attention to this amazing ABBA-Insa-dong connection in the past half-century?

  2. Yes, I too visited the ABBA museum when in Stockholm a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t sure the T-shirt would suit me ^_^

    I salute 앤서방 for noticing the minhwa reference.

  3. Hi Huijin, it’s almost certainly based on a Korean design. It would be nice to know how it came about. This was in the days before the internet, so the artist would have had to consult a specialist book, or perhaps even visited Korea.

    I’m pleases to see they still sell clothing and accessories with this design. Might even place an order!


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