A Record of a Modern Authentic Han Chinese Wedding

Video: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/AEBex0KoXr0/

Original title “缘系华服双飞翼,梦里依稀到汉唐——记2009年我的汉式婚礼” (Linking fate with flourescent clothes and sending aflight in pair, as if returning to Han and Tang times in our dreams – A record of our Han-style wedding ceremony in 2009) by Yang Na. Translation by Juni Yeung.   

Source: http://cid-d21ed5bd748c5602.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!D21ED5BD748C5602!248.entry and http://tieba.baidu.com/f?kz=688536361   

[Transl. Note: This article is but one of many accounts of wedding ceremonies influenced by the Hanfu movement. Despite the differences in the details between one and the other, they do not wander out of the basic guidelines as provided by the Zhou Book of Rites. A future article for the translation of that may be in order.]   
On the Eleventh day of the Eleventh month of Jichou (4707), December 26th of December, 2009, my husband and I hosted a grand Han style wedding ceremony in the Beijing Shangri La Hotel. 

Ever since the moment I knew about Hanfu, I have a wish – on the most important day of my life, I want to use the Zhou standard marriage ceremony with over three millennia of Huaxia history to witness our love, to prove our hundred years of matrimony, and to prove our ethnic pride of over 5,000 years!

 The Han ethnicity is not without its own rituals of matrimony – its beginnings can be traced to the Western Zhou era, reknowned for founding the Chinese nation with rites and music, as well as its succeeding Spring and Autumn, and Warring States periods, known for its superior persons’ (“gentlemanly”, junzi) demeanour. Ritual humbles oneself and respects the other, and puts in order the senior from the junior. Ritual is intricately organized, and is the fundamental element of the ideal Huaxia nation. The Huaxia Chinese nation of today does not need to refer to the wedding ceremony of the West, devoid of Christian beliefs and churches and only with a wedding dress.   

The wedding ceremony began its planning in August. Since we were both outside of China [Transl.: Na works in Sweden], most of the tasks were organized by the parents on both sides, along with Zhou Tianhan (周天晗) and Mo (netname, 谟). The ceremony process was based off of Zhou-standard ritual ceremony for Shi class, which Zhou Tianhan and Ufe (Wu Fei) revised and modified to suit the occasion. The clothing were made according to Zhou-standard regulatory shapes, and was designed and produced by Mo. The hairdressing design was researched by Youlan Fangqin (netname, 幽蘭芳沁) and Keyi (netname, 可依) based on patterns of servants of the period, and made completely by hand. If we hadn’t had the three months of hard work by everyone, we wouldn’t have the success of this day.  



Procession of Wedding Ceremony Events:   

Part I. (Groom) Family meets
– At the groom’s place: The Zhanzi Li (蘸子禮) is performed.
The groom’s father, dressed formally, sits at the East side of the living room, and his son sits at his Northwest, facing South. The Zhan (贊, roughly equivalent of MC) stands beside the groom’s sitting mat, towards the east. Led by the Zhan, the Yu (御, roughly equivalent of Best Man) serves up tea, and the groom prostrates to his parents.   

2. Meeting the (other) family
– The Zhan leads the groom into the first car (of the procession), and he himself leads in front (sits in the front seat). The Best man holds the jade hen and other presents in the third sedan. (By ritual, one should use a wooden geese or a jade Bi as the pledge object, but since we really couldn’t find one, upon Ufe’s approval, it was replaced with a jade hen)   

3. To the bride’s home
– Led by the Zhan, the Ying (媵, “upper concubine”, the bridesmaid) takes the jade hen (pledge) and follows the procession to the bride’s (my) home. The Zhan leads the groom i 

n front of the bride’s father, and hands the pledge to my uncle (beside father).
– The bride then bows to the order of the Zhan, and bows with prostration to her parents.   

Part II: The Procession   


Leaving home, towards the wedding venue.

On the car.

Arriving at the hotel.

Taking a photo with the bridesmaid and best man in front of the first car.We changed into our toasting outfits and paid respects to our elders at the lead table.

The poster in front of the hall.

Part III. The wedding begins. 

– Entrance, the wedding ceremony
The distinct grace of Huaxia style, the length of the ethnic history, the brilliance of culture, the glamour of clothing and pattern, the grandeur of ritual — put along any other nation or ethnicity in the world, this is c 

ertainly something worthy to be proud of. Although we now live in a foreign land, we will never forget our motherland’s rich history; and despite wearing Western clothes in our daily lives, we wish even more to wear our Han clothes and dresses.   

The Han Wedding shows solemnity in tranquility; the Zhou standard regalia shows dignity without losing flowing grace. These fabulous sights unravel slowly to the sound of music.

To front stage

1. Bride and groom goes on centre hall
The peach tree is young and elegant;
Brilliant are its flowers.
This young lady is going to her future home;
And will order well her cha
 (Shijing VI “Taoyao”)
The bride and groom show humility and motion and bow thrice for the other to proceed first, showing mutual respect and love, and putting the virtue of the Chinese tradition in practice.   

mber and house. 

On the stage, ready for the Washing Ritual.

2. The Woguan Li (Washing ritual) 沃盥禮
The Woguan Li or wa 

shing ritual refers to the washing of hands and face for the couple, symbolizing the purity and sanctity of the entire ceremony. The Zhou Book of Rites records [Transl. Erratum: Should be from Yili] “Ying, Yu  mutually pass the washing basin.” This refers to the Ying (bridesmaid) helping the bride wash, and Yu (best man) helping the groom wash. The Huaxia people focus on cleanliness, and one must wash their face and hands before bonding. Clean hands and face are also a necessity for the purity of the whole ritual. [Transl. note: Or any major Huaxia ritual. Many other ceremonies also include this bit.] 



Guests and hosts are seated, ritual banquet begins.

3. The Bonding (tonglao) Ceremony 同牢禮
The ancients said, “Men and women do not sit together since age 7, and do not eat from the same vessels”. From today onwards, a new couple will be sitting together on the same mat, sharing the same meal from the same vessels, hence is called the Bonding ceremony. According to ancient etiquette, the couple is to eat dishes in this order: Maize, grain, and lungs. Before eating each dish, a portion 

 of the food is raised up in the air to honour the gods and ancestors. 

We changed into our toasting outfits and paid respects to our elders at the lead table.



4. First and Second Round of Wine-drinking
The couple 

 drinks wine after the meal. Asides from cleansing the palate, it also helps digestion.
The wine-bearers (bridesmaid and best man) help take out the wine utensils, and serve wine from the auspicious side (left). The Zhan pours wine for the groom, to which he gives thanks. The Ying pours wine for the bride, and she shows thanks. The second gulp of wine is used for mouth-washing (yinjiu, 酳酒), and the wine-bearers get some more wine separately. 

5. Drinking from the merged winecups (Hejin, 合卺)

The original meaning of hejin means a cup made from a split huluo gourd. Merging the two would form one whole container. Because a gourd is bitter, the wine that is contained inside must also be bitter. Hence, by having a couple drink wine from the hejin not only symbolizes the beginning of two combining to become one, but also implies the two experiencing and overcoming bitterness together. 


6. Tying hair
The bride and groom each cut a small lock of head hair and put them together, wrapped with red thread. [Transl. note: Some ceremonies also put them into a small pouch and is given to the couple as a charm.] 

7. Upon approval of the Master, the Zhan pays a homage to Heaven and declares the completion of the ceremony. (The one on the leftmost is another Master of Ceremonies, and is responsible for the explanation to the audience for the day) 

8. Parents proceed on stage and give their blessing. 

9. Disbanding 



A group photo for the local Hanfu compatriots.

In the photo (in no particular order): Mo 谟,Xiaohang 晓航,Xuan’er 翾儿,Xuan 璇,Apple,Yuluo 雨螺,iamblackcat黑猫,Xiaodie 小碟,Qingfeng 清风,Kui’er魁儿,Sasa 莎莎,Huang Yanliu 黄言柳,my cousins,Tianya zai Xiaolou 天涯在小楼Dasong Yimin (Zhao Fengnian) 大宋遗民,Master Wong 王老师,1001 nights 一千零一夜,Shaoqing 少卿,Qingsong Baixue 青松白雪,Gushenzi 谷神子,Guowang de Xinge 国王的新歌,Moqing 墨青,Xiao Yao’e’zi 小妖蛾子,Zhou Tianhan 周天晗,Lin Maixiao 林脉潇,Kongkong77 空空77,LJN,as well as bride and groom. 

Interlude entertainment.

While we were changing clothes, the Chinese ensemble from the Capital University of Economics and Business brought us fascinating events such as Xiyangyang 《喜洋洋》. As well, I would like to thank Longmao (netname, 龙猫) from University of Manchester who contacted the Chinese ensemble, and rushed to here in Beijing on the 23rd to 

participate in the performance. I would like to thank even more to Leng Yuluo, who brought an entire crate of clothing from home at 5:00AM to the hotel at 8:00AM, and assisted everyone with putting the clothes on, and lending them to the ensemble, then put everything back at 2:00PM. Really, really stressful work. 

Xuan'er brings us Han ethnic dance as entertainment.

We changed into our toasting outfits and paid respects to our elders at the lead table.



Our apologies to our bridesmaid and best man, who has been working diligently all day and didn’t even get to eat lunch…

Toasting to the Hanfu compatriots.

Our masters (advisors). (Left: Ufe/Wu Fei; Right: Zhou Tianhan)

A photo with Tianya Zai Xiaolou (1st left, in red) and her husband Qingsong Baixue.

Finally, I would like to thank:

My grandpa and grandma, and my parents’ support and assistance towards a traditional wedding ceremony;
Zhou Tianhan and Mo, and their relentless research and revision to the ceremony procedures, as well as their supervision, design , and production of the wedding clothes.
Xiao Yao’e’zi and her boyfriend as the bridesmaid and best man. Lin Maixiao, Kongkong77, Guowang de Xinge, Moqing as the four attendants, who followed us for an entire week’s worth of preparation and rehearsal;
Leng Yuluo of Rumeng Nishang, and Huang Yanliu of Beijing Industrial University, who provided for all the clothing for the attendants and performers’ clothes.
Our friends from the Chinese Ensemble from Capital University of Economics and Trade;
Ufe and his research and design of the ceremony’s procedures, and came to Beijing three days before the wedding day from Jinan as the supervisor of the rehearsal.
Youlan Fangqin and Keyi, for their production of my headpieces;
Huli for the hard work that day and revision to the background music;
Beijing Bainianhao Wedding Events Ltd.,
And many other many masters, friends, and compatriots who flew in from around the world.  

There are more pictures in the production log thread, please stay tuned! ^^


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. yawei.li
    Nov 18, 2010 @ 22:41:49

    so beautiful, thank you for translating,


  2. fellow hanist
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 02:15:38

    wayy better than a tangzhuang wedding. but there’s too much red and yellow in the background.

    i’m kinda suspicious about whether the red+yellow color combo is han chinese at all. Zhu yuan zhang was the first han emperor to wear yellow(first emperor after mongol invasion), and only the manchus used it extensively in their architecture + clothing.
    plus, the koreans and japanese never use yellow against red. even for new year and weddings.

    i also can’t help but notice the “tartar barbarian” architecture that ruined the background scenery of some of the beautiful hanfu pictures you posted.


    here’s webpage which compares qing/ming architecture with tang/japanese architecture

    i love your articles on han clothing, music, and festivals.
    but i would be grateful if you could add more posts to spread awareness about Chinese architecture (and maybe furniture too).
    i hope that all hanfu enthusiasts are informed of this so that they’ll stop organizing future events in front of manchu architecture.
    thank you!

    ur site is awesome btw
    i’m reading all the articles


    • Satsuki Shizuka 五月靜
      Jan 24, 2011 @ 02:20:13

      Thank you, “fellow Hanist”;

      Architecture is not my area of specialty (nor are garden arrangements) – this is something left for Feng Shui masters and professional architects. If you know of any more suitable English articles of some depth on the subject, please don’t hesitate to tell me.
      (Disclaimer: I am not about to spend my effort typing/paraphrasing Liang Sicheng here – his masterpiece is definitely worth a read)


  3. fellow hanist
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 02:43:18

    oh nvm thats ok . . .
    i dont know much about it either actually
    i just started to dig into han culture a few months ago. so my knowledge is still quite limited.
    i was just hoping that maybe you could include the link i sent u on ur next article or show some picture comparisons from that site with brief translated english subtitles. thats all.

    i dont expect any lengthy in depth articles.



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