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Marriage Customs Of China

( Originally Published 1897 )



THE lives of the Celestials, as the Chinese style themselves, are very much ruled and influenced by certain notions with regard to spirits and the spirit-world. Their passionate desire for male children is essentially a religious sentiment. Not only do they consider, as the Jews of old did, that a man with a large family is highly blessed, but they believe that the spirits of the departed are rendered happy by the homage received at the hands of their male posterity. The worship of ancestors and parents is a very essential part of their religion, and particularly interesting as illustrating a primitive phase in religious ideas. The young people are taught that it is a sacred duty to marry and bring up children, i.e., male children. At first sight this seems all very well ; but unfortunately it is one of the reasons why the rich are allowed to have more than one wife—a custom undoubtedly tending towards that degradation of women which is one of the saddest features of Chinese life. Parents expect all their children to marry, whatever may be the state of their health. Archdeacon Gray, in his well-known History of China," records the case of a young man belonging to a most influential family in Canton, whose parents were informed by the family physician that he had but a very short time to live. They therefore at once selected a day for his marriage. On that day his bride-elect was brought to the house with all the pomp and parade attending a wedding. The ceremony was no sooner over than the bridegroom was led back to his sick chamber where, in a few days, he died.

The Chinese now marry very young, though this appears to be contrary to the usages of antiquity and their Book of Rites. Here it is laid down that a man at twenty is not at his best ; his reason is not fully developed—a truth which seems obvious enough, when we remember what undergraduates at our own Universities are at this age. The age recommended is thirty. At forty a man may be a magistrate in a small way ; and at fifty he may be entrusted with some very responsible post. No lady may marry until she is fourteen years of age, but to be still unmarried at twenty-three is considered very wrong. It is a common thing for parents to arrange marriages for their children during infancy : and there are cases where two friends make a solemn promise, or take an oath, to unite in marriage the children of different sexes that may be born to them. It may perhaps be thought that such an arrangement is entirely unknown in our own country, but such is not the case, for the writer has been informed on very good authority that the famous naturalist Waterton married the daughter of an intimate friend, to whom he was pledged before her birth ! The marriage was a happy one while it lasted, but Mrs. Waterton died a year or so afterwards.

A mandarin is not allowed to marry a woman in the province over which he bears rule. This law was made to prevent one family from obtaining undue influence over other families in the same district. Should he disobey this rule, or even take a secondary wife in his own district, the marriage is forthwith declared void, and, what is worse, he is liable " to receive eighty blows with the stick ! Whether he actually receives so degrading a punishment, for a man of his rank, we will not undertake to say. The rule may be

more honoured in the breach than in the observance," and official life is so corrupt that he can probably find some back-door way of escape. Actors, policemen, boatmen, and slaves, are forbidden to marry out of their own class. Men and women may not marry during the time of mourning for a relative. Marriages take place at all times of the year, but the eighth month is considered the most favourable. There is therefore a marriage season, as in India. When this time comes round, books containing songs in honour of matrimony are to be seen in the bookstalls. The Chinese appear to be firm believers in the doctrine that " marriages are made in heaven " ; the reason for this probably lies in the fact that they are thorough fatalists, and so it seems to them quite credible that parents, in arranging the marriages of their children, are acting under the influence of fate or the will of heaven.

Occasionally it happens that, when a marriage has been arranged for a young man by his family, the parents of the affianced lady delay to make the necessary arrangements for the wedding—perhaps on account of their poverty. The would-be bridegroom becomes impatient, and, if he considers that there is no good reason for such delay, takes the law (or rather the girl) into his own hands, and carries her off by main force. Thus we have another relic of the ancient usage of " marriage by capture." Certain relatives, or trusty friends, go with him, to help if their aid should be required. He must do it himself, and so, having obtained an ordinary sedan chair, he lies in wait near her house. A blanket is also considered necessary, and this is thrown over her as soon as she appears on the scene—possibly " by request." Having thus seized his bride, he quickly makes off to his own home. No one interferes, unless it be her parents or brothers, but they only do so in a half-hearted kind of way. The young people are betrothed, so it is all right.

In some cases a mere hint of abduction is sufficient to bring the reluctant parents to terms. On the arrival of the bride at her new home, the wedding is celebrated much in the usual way. There is, however, a danger lest he should carry off the wrong girl, especially as the marriages are all arranged by match-makers. It is highly necessary for him to be careful, for a mistake of that sort would lead to prosecution and a heavy punishment.

Although, as a rule, marriages in China are arranged between the respective families, and, in many cases, the bridegroom never sees his wife until the marriage day, yet every rule has its exceptions. Love-matches and what we call run-away marriages are not altogether unknown. Betrothed young ladies have been bold enough to elope with some other swain ; it may be the son of a next-door neighbour who has already won the girl's admiration—perhaps even her heart. But, alas ! the penalties of the prison-house await them if they are discovered. Considering how marriages are usually made, it is not surprising to find that peace and harmony seldom reign at home. To say nothing of the many causes of jealousy and discord arising from the presence of several secondary wives—except among the poor—it must be evident that two people who, before marriage, were total strangers to each other, cannot be expected to live in perfect happiness together. The poor women have indeed much to bear. They live in great subjection to their masters, who often become fearful tyrants. In some parts of the country, a man is so afraid of being considered "mild" that he will even beat his wife in public, just by way of showing to his friends and neighbours that he means to be master in his own house. The Abbe Huc, who was a Jesuit missionary in China for many years, and had special opportunities for studying the people and their ways, says that he once saw a young woman covered with blood and apparently dying. On making inquiries, he learned that her husband had been beating her because he imagined that the neighbours were laughing at him for not having done so before.

With regard to jealousy and intrigues, Archdeacon Gray confirms the testimony of M. Huc. " Many indeed," he says, are the heartrending scenes which I have witnessed in such homes." Upon the false accusation of a rival, the Chinese husband frequently expels a wife from his house, or sells her to some one else. A few young women are so keenly alive to the hideous wrongs inflicted on their sex that, with a courage which is much to be admired, they altogether refuse to enter the bonds of matrimony. The same missionary says that in one street in a suburb of Canton, he knew four families in which there were ladies who refused to marry. Some become nuns, others even commit suicide. For example, during the reign of Taou-kwang, fifteen girls who were betrothed, met together and resolved to die. They flung them-selves into a tributary stream of the Canton River near the village where they lived. Their tomb, near Fochune, is called " the tomb of the virgins." In 1873 eight young girls, arrayed in their best attire, similarly put an end to their lives in the darkness of the night. It is very likely that within the last thirty years or more, things may have somewhat improved owing to contact with European nations, and perhaps the influence of missionaries. But there can be little doubt that when M. Huc wrote his experiences some thirty years ago, the lot of most Chinese women was very unhappy. These are his words, The condition of Chinese women is most pitiable ; suffering, privation, contempt, all kinds of misery and degradation, seize on her in the cradle, and accompany her to the tomb. Her birth is commonly regarded as a humiliation and a disgrace to the family—an evident sign of the malediction of Heaven. If she be not immediately suffocated, a girl is regarded and treated as a creature radically despicable, and scarcely belonging to the human race."

The principle of co-operation, or mutual help, is not unknown in the Celestial Empire, where both weddings and funerals often involve poor people in a ruinous expense. When a family cannot command enough ready money to pay the cost of a wedding properly conducted in a style suitable to its social position, a kind of Society is formed for the purpose of collecting the necessary amount. A friend, or relative, interested in the case takes the hat round," as we should say. The old English and Scotch " Penny Wedding " was also conducted on the principle of mutual help (see Scotland, p. 318).

On the Canton and other rivers a large population lives on floating islands of timber, or reeds skilfully twisted together. These people are possibly of a different race, but their origin is involved in obscurity. By the Chinese they are looked upon as outsiders," or pariahs ; their children are not allowed to attend the usual examinations. Their women are called Suee-Ki, or water-fowl ; but, nevertheless, the despised women are of much finer physique. The marriages of these people are attended with much religious observance. Priests attend for three days and three nights chanting prayers to " the Nine Kings," to whom the children are dedicated shortly after birth. There is a great deal of feasting, and the parents of the bridegroom will spend the savings of several years on such an occasion.

Among the upper classes in China there are at least six principal rites connected with marriage, but with the poor there is less of ceremony. The first thing is to arrange for the marriage. This is done by go-betweens in a manner to be described presently. Secondly, the name of the young lady, as well as the day and month of her birth, must be inquired of her parents. Thirdly, diviners must be consulted in order to report a happy augury to the parents of the girl. Fourthly, presents are sent as pledges of the young man's intention. Fifthly, the wedding day is appointed ; and lastly the bride must be conducted in procession to the bridegroom's house. These are only the preliminaries, for the actual marriage ceremonies, all regulated by a code of observances from which no departure is allowed, have yet to be performed. The missives which are sent from one family to another show how accomplished the Chinese are in the art of polite letter-writing. Thus, according to the Abbe Huc in his " Chinese Empire," the father, when the name of his daughter is asked, is required to answer in the following manner :—

I have received with respect the marks of your goodness. The choice that you deign to make of my daughter to become the wife of your son shows me that you esteem my poor and cold family more than it deserves. My daughter is coarse and stupid, and I have not had the talent to bring her up well ; yet I shall nevertheless glory in obeying you on this occasion. You will find written on another page the name of my daughter, and that of her mother, with the day of her birth."

When he receives the presents and the information that a day is fixed for the wedding, the young man's father replies in these terms :

" I have received your last resolution. You wish this marriage to take place, and I am only sorry that my daughter has so little merit, and that she has not had all the education desirable. I fear she is good for nothing ; yet, nevertheless, since the augury is favour-able, I dare not disobey you. I accept your present, I salute you, and I consent to the day appointed for the wedding. I will take care to make due preparation."

These polite letters are of such peculiar interest, and so different from our modern matter-of-fact epistles, that we venture to put before the reader another specimen, couched in very flowery language. It is given by Archdeacon Gray as a specimen, and is one of two such documents which fell into his hands. His translation of it is as follows :

" The sun has long since risen, and the brightness of his rays illumines the house wherein resides the fair. At this hour, too, she, like the sun, has left her couch and attired herself in a costume becoming the hour of the day, and her rank and station in life. Her face has gazed upon the mirror, which has reflected back upon her the beautiful features of which it is possessed. Indeed, all nature has now assumed a beautiful aspect, and all creatures, as is designed by nature, are now pairing. I write this as an evidence of my respect and devotion. Permit me, therefore, respectfully to congratulate you, my venerable relative, whose honour-able family has resided for so many ages in Seng-Moon, or Yut Hoee, where its respected members have ever been distinguished for their literary attainments, their essays being written in a style almost unparalleled. Further, the essay of your son in particular has obtained for him high literary honours ; but no wonder, as your ancestors were one and all men of distinction, and your descendants, therefore, cannot be otherwise than men of renown. Your own rank is also great, and your son will prove a worthy successor of the same. I, for my part, have been from boyhood slothful and indigent. I wander through the world as one without any fixed purpose, and the rank which I hold is of a degree more honourable than I deserve. Your daughter is gentle and virtuous, and as for my son, he is so weak in intellect as to be unworthy of her. But, as you, upon hearing the words of the matchmaker, or go-between, thought him worthy, and at once consented to the engagement, it is only right that the union should take place. There will be unbroken friendship between me and you after the celebration of the marriage rites of our children. This is the day appointed for me to give, and for you to receive the customary presents. I therefore beg to forward them herewith. They are, however, of a very ordinary kind, and of no value. Indeed, I only forward to you, together with a few simple things, a wooden hairpin, and I am in truth ashamed that I have no jewels, precious stones, and silk fabrics to present. You will, I am sure, readily excuse me. When these, the preliminary ceremonies, have been observed, we shall anxiously await the wedding-day."

The period immediately preceding the happy (?) day is one of lamentation for the bride elect, her sisters, lady friends, and attendants. She must frequently declare that the thought of leaving her parents is more than she can bear ; death itself would be preferable ! And when we consider what Chinese wives have to put up with, these demonstrations of grief may, after all, be partly genuine. Ten to fifteen days is the time usually allowed for such an expression of filial love, but sometimes it is prolonged for a whole month. The Jewish people of old had a similar custom, as the following text will show : " And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month. "

On the night preceding a wedding the young lady's attendants make such loud demonstrations of grief as to disturb many of their neighbours. On some lucky day her parents send the trousseau and many articles of furniture to the bridegroom's house. This is done with considerable ostentation, for the father is anxious that everybody should be made aware of his generosity. The things are carried in procession through the streets by men in red tunics. On the marriage day a wedding breakfast is prepared at the young man's house. Tables are arranged at the east and west sides of the dining-hall. Four wine cups, usually made of gourds, are placed on a table near the door of the house. These are called hop kun, or " uniting cups." Another table in the courtyard contains refreshments for the bridegroom, who now appears in the visitors' hall. Here he kneels down and bows to his father, knocking his head on the ground six times, receives at his hands a cup of wine, and is told to send for his bride in the following words : " Go, my son, and seek your wife, and behave in all things with prudence and wisdom." Years ago the young man went to fetch his bride, or met her procession on the way to his house ; but this is rarely done now. So he merely sends the palanquin, or sedan-chair, which is often richly carved and highly ornamented, and always coloured red. It is brought to her house (sometimes on the preceding day) in a gay procession of servants and musicians. Various emblems are here used, each of which has an appropriate meaning. One is a small orange-tree heavily laden with fruit, and with strings of money hanging from its branches, emblematical of a large family and much worldly wealth. A picture of the kee-lun, a fabulous quadruped, is borne under a canopy, and very often it figures upon the bride's chair also. This beast, they say, always appears when a " wise man " is born ; and so it is hoped that a sage may be born from the union. Other signs are a goose and a gander, emblematic of conjugal faithfulness (compare the Japanese two pheasants), and a dolphin, which means wealth and rank. Men in red tunics carry red boards on poles displaying in letters of gold the titles of the bride and bridegroom's ancestors. Some of the attendants carry torches, others large red lanterns containing lighted candles (lights are believed to keep away evil spirits) and red umbrellas and fans. It is a picturesque affair.

Since marriage is held in such high honour, every one must make way for the procession, even mandarins ; any one who does not is liable to be beaten.

The friend of the bridegroom," or best man," as we should say, bears a letter written on red paper to the bride, bidding her come. This she must carefully keep ; it is regarded much as " marriage lines " are with us. The bride enters the visitors' hall, where her parents are waiting for her. To them she makes obeisance (or performs the kow-tow) ; a cup of wine is given her, out of which she drinks, first pouring out a few drops as a libation, after the manner of the Greeks and Romans. While still kneeling, the father exhorts her to obey the commands of her father and mother-in-law, and holds forth on the duties of husbands and wives. The mother does the samething, saying, Take courage, daughter, and be always submissive to the will of your husband." She may well speak of courage, for it must require no small degree of fortitude on the part of the poor little bride to face the life of submission that now lies before her ! Then the father goes to the door to receive the bride-groom's friend, who enters, holding a goose in each hand. The bride retires to her chamber and presently appears veiled in red silk, so that her features are invisible. She enters the chair, escorted by female attendants, and the bridal procession proceeds with much demonstration and noise—shall we say music ?—to the house of the bridegroom. On her arrival the man who will soon be her husband taps with his fan at the door of the chair or palanquin, the bridesmaids, or female attendants, open it, and voila ! the bride steps out, but still veiled. Then follows a curious ceremony. She is placed on the back of a female servant and carried over a slow char-coal fire, on each side of which are arranged a pair of shoes for her husband (which she has brought with her). Meanwhile another female servant raises over her head a tray containing chopsticks, rice, and betel nuts.

The bridegroom, seated on a high stool to show his superiority, receives his future wife, who must prostrate herself at his feet. He now removes the red silk veil, and for the first time sees her face. The pair are then conducted to the ancestral hall, where they prostrate themselves before the altar, on which are arranged the ancestral tablets ; but the formal worship of ancestors takes place later, as we shall see. Heaven and earth are also adored. This act is very important, so much so that when people wish to express that a certain person is married, they commonly say, " He has adored the heavens and the earth."

In the bridal chamber are the orange tree, with its strings of money and the burning tapers that formed part of the procession. The two salute each other and take food together, namely, tea and cake. At seven o'clock in the evening a grand feast is prepared by the bride, who waits on her new parents as a servant. Having presented a cup of wine to her father-in-law, she kneels at his feet and prostrates herself, knocking her head on the ground. So also to her mother-in-law. It is then her turn to be entertained with food. A cup of wine is presented to her by the mother-in-law, but before receiving it she duly makes her obeisance. In some parts of China the couple retire to their private chamber to dine.

In the districts around Canton they have a singular custom, according to which neighbours, friends, or even strangers, are allowed to come in and see the bride during the evening. This is a trying ordeal, and appears not to be inflicted on brides of good family or daughters of officials. The people who come in pass remarks about her with singular freedom, and in a loud tone of voice. The remarks are not always complimentary, and often in very questionable taste. But she must take no notice, and behave in all things with the greatest composure. Strangers and friends may ask her riddles, and whenever she fails to give a correct answer she must pay a forfeit of cakes. In this way the unfortunate bride is often kept up half the night. The husband is absent during the evening, for he would very likely take offence at some of the remarks passed upon his wife. In many districts of the province of Canton the bride and bridegroom separate after the ceremonies, and must wait about three years before they can live together.

On the third day, at an early hour, the newly-married couple worship their ancestors in the ancestral hall, where, on a table, are placed the ancestral tablets. Looking towards these, the husband's father pours out libations and reads aloud a letter to the spirits of the ancestors, which is somewhat as follows : " My son has married, and all the ceremonies attendant upon such an occasion having been duly observed, I now therefore give command to him and his wife to render you homage, in the hope of propitiating you and prevailing upon you to grant them many blessings." The husband and wife kneel before the tablets and prostrate themselves. They must also pay homage to the husband's parents, the uncles, and the aunts.

On the same day it is their duty to pay a visit of ceremony to the wife's parents, accompanied by numerous servants carrying boxes of cake and fruits, roasted pigs and fowls. These are very important, and doubtless must be regarded as relics of marriage by purchase. Such presents, in many parts of the world, are the chief part of a marriage ceremony.

It may, perhaps, not be out of place here to mention a very singular custom which is common both to the Tartars and Chinese. Marko Polo, in his famous book, says, speaking of the former people, that when a boy and girl die who are betrothed to each other (rather a rare occurrence) the parents nevertheless arrange a grand wedding between the lad and the lass, just as if they were alive, and make a regular contract ! When the contract papers are made out, they put them in the fire, in order that the betrothed ones, now in the spirit world, may look upon each other as man and wife ! The respective parents then consider themselves relations by marriage. A dowry is even given, and those who pay it cause it to be painted on pieces of paper and then put them in the fire, in the belief that in this way the dead person will get all the real articles in the other world. According to Navarete, this is also a Chinese custom. It was described to him by a Jesuit, F. Michael Trigautius, who lived several years in the province of Shansi. The parents send the usual presents with much ceremony and music, as if the young couple were alive. After this they put the two coffins together, hold the wedding dinner, and lay them together in one tomb. The respective parents, from this time forth, are looked upon, not merely as friends, but as relatives just as they would have been had their children really married in life. Gray, who witnessed such a ceremony, gives a somewhat different account. According to him the effigies of the young people in paper were burned.

If a Chinese girl die after or during her betrothal, and before marriage, the young man goes through a marriage ceremony at his own house, the bride being represented by a paper effigy made by her parents. This is burned by the bridegroom, who erects a tablet to her memory—an honour forbidden to an unmarried person. In so large an empire we are sure to find occasional differences in the local usages. The sad event we are now dealing with affords a case in point. Thus, according to another writer, they observe a custom called asking for her shoes." Her fiance goes to the house of her parents, and, with tears running down his cheeks, approaches the coffin in which she lies. He asks for a pair of shoes recently worn ; these are, of course, given. He then proceeds home with them, having three lighted sticks of incense in his hands. Arrived there, he informs her spirit of the fact, and puts the incense in a censer. A room is then chosen in which he places a table and a chair, and the precious souvenir is placed on, or under, the chair. On the table he puts a pair of lighted candles, and the censer with the incense brought from her home. At this little shrine, or altar, incense is burned for two years, after which a tablet to her memory is placed in the niche containing the ancestral tablets of his family. In that way she is supposed to become his wife, and her afflicted parents are satisfied. Girls are of so little account that we may suppose that the parents are not particularly grieved. If, on the other hand, the young man should die, that is, of course, quite another matter ! In that case, his fiancee must live as an old maid in the house of his parents till the end of her days ! Should she live beyond sixty years, her friends and relatives hold her in great honour. It is then usual for them to mark their appreciation of her great virtue by erecting to her a monumental arch. The imperial Government con-tributes towards the fund established for this purpose.

A Chinaman calls his brother's male children his sons," but his sister's children he calls his nephews." A curious relic of bygone days is the ceremony of lifting the bride over the threshold of her new home. We find this also in Great Britain and other countries : it is supposed by some to be a relic of marriage by capture. No two persons of the same name may marry in China. Widows who refuse to marry again, or rather to be sold again, are held in great honour. A betrothed maiden whose fiance dies, is much esteemed if she buries herself in a lifelong sorrow. But she can win far greater glory by committing suicide !—a custom which of course is not recommended for men. They are never considered superfluous ! In order to encourage such exemplary and useful self-effacement, tablets are erected in the temples to the memory of young girls who have been so virtuous as to kill themselves on the tombs of their betrothed ones, and twice a year, certain mandarins make oblations in their honour. Even at the present time, widows are known to put an end to their lives, but those who do so are generally without children or relatives.

In 1857 the Pekin Gazette published a decree according a tablet to the memory of the wife of a mandarin who had poisoned herself on hearing of the death of her husband in a battle against the rebels. In a country where female infanticide is practised, one need not be surprised at such deeds. The Chinese are a terribly cruel nation, in spite of their highly literary education, and appear to take a delight in witnessing executions. These unfortunate widows, if desirous of obtaining high honour, are expected to kill themselves in public with great pomp and solemnity. A month before the fatal day, the widow parades the town in this fashion : Two executioners head the pro-cession, then come musicians, then men dressed in coarse linen tunics with hoods, carrying parasols, little pagodas, boxes of perfumes, and streamers. After them, a third executioner, followed by another group bearing poles surmounted by fantastic animals. At the end of the procession is a mandarin's palanquin, surrounded by numerous servants, of both sexes, dressed in mourning, that is, in grey linen. The heroine or widow sits in the palanquin, dressed in red, and wearing a blue crown. Her robe of satin is richly ornamented. But all this to-do is merely preliminary, and by way of announcement or invitation. On the day appointed the tragedy takes place in the presence of a great crowd.

The manner in which a wife is selected for the Emperor furnishes a remarkable instance of the difference between Chinese and Western ideas. Girls are by no means desirous of being chosen for empress and wearing the crown ! Parents also have no such ambition for their daughters : and for very good reasons —not that they fear a fate like that of the wives of Henry the Eighth, but because when a young woman has been chosen by the Emperor for his bride, and she has been crowned queen, he keeps her in such seclusion in his palace that her relations seldom or never see her. And, not unnaturally, they think that crowns are dear at the price. Also it brings them into a position attended with many serious drawbacks, and even dangers ; hence there are difficulties in the way of a Manchu emperor obtaining a bride. He acknowledges no other king as his equal, and so no prince's daughter can be his wife. He must select his wife from the people," which seems strange in a country where rank is of so much importance. It is recorded that in recent times, when it was necessary to select a bride for a young emperor, the two dowager empresses issued orders to all the chiefs who had daughters of the desired age to send them to the palace. But, strange to say, when the day came, very few presented themselves ! All sorts of polite excuses were made by the parents. Some alleged that their daughters were crippled, others that they were blind. In some cases lameness was successfully imitated, eformities artificially produced. To such an extent was this carried that the empresses gave express orders that the lame and the halt, the blind and the dumb, were to be sent to the palace. The result was that on the day fixed about six hundred or seven hundred girls appeared, and of these about fifty were selected after a first inspection. It is hardly necessary to add that none of them were halt or lame or blind or deaf ! The names of all were taken and the character and position of their parents inquired into. Their horoscopes were carefully calculated—a very important matter. After the second inspection, thirty were chosen out of the fifty. These were honourably entertained at the palace, and watched so that their individual traits could be studied. After a short stay, ten were sent home, and then ten more. At last the number was reduced to two, and one of these was chosen. One would think even then the result might not be highly satisfactory. The daughter of some prince or noble would be far more likely to make a good empress than a total stranger to court life.

Golden and silver weddings are almost as much observed in China as among the Germans or in England.

Our portrait of a Chinese bride is from a photo-graph by Mr. Thomas Child, of Chelsfield, Kent, who has kindly permitted us to reproduce it. The young lady's father was fortunately a man of liberal ideas, and allowed her to be photographed without the usual veil that hides the features of a bride. The big emblem behind the chair is Shi, the Chinese symbol for Happiness, which occupies a very prominent place in weddings, everything being marked with it. It is usually doubled, to denote " Double Happiness," though not here.

According to a missionary who has worked of late years in Formosa, the savages who inhabit the mountains of that island are all head hunters," and a man is not, as a rule, allowed to marry until he has brought in at least one Chinese head just to give proof of his courage and skill ! But if the Chinese are unusually careful about their heads, and keep beyond spear-reach of the most daring brave, the chief may grant a special dispensation to any man who has distinguished himself in the chase of the deer and the wild boar. There is very little if any ceremony at a wedding, but the bride is gaily decked out.



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