researches on Chinese traditions-wedding

To make Chinese related Jewelry, I need to understand the role of jewelry in China. At the beginning, jewelries are solely meant for ceremonial and religion purposes in China, they are the items of superstitions and worships. Only later it became accessories.

To make my jewelries “Chinese”, I decide to understand more about Chinese culture. However, if the purpose of the jewelry is designed too specific to one type of culture, meaning the non-Chinese people are totally not relatable, the design outcome would be very narrow. As such, wedding tradition can be a good aspect to start with. Wedding is related to most of people regardless of race and religions.  A jewelry can reflects certain Chinese wedding culture, and yet it can be simply a decorative accessory. It can be worn on and off Chinese wedding. And for other races who do not perform Chinese traditions, can wear it for the auspicious meaning or just the appearance.

At brainstorming stage of my FYP, I am considering designing a set of jewelry that reflects different occasions in Chinese Traditions. It can be wedding, which is more formal, flamboyant; or daily jewelry which is more subtle.

Here is a short video briefly introduces Chinese Wedding Traditions.

Chinese Wedding Customs(三书六礼-Three Letters & Six Etiquettes)

YouTube Channel “Off the Great Wall’

Published date: 7th July 2013

Accessed date: 28th August 2016


One of the most important factors defining Chinese people, or Malay, or Indian, are the traditions and customs we practice. Although many of us do not perform the entire tradition nowadays, there are still some simplified traditions we practice. Such as wedding traditions.

Generally, the modern Chinese do not perform the whole “three letters and six Etiquettes” in marriage, some steps such as presenting wedding gift, fetching the brides, or even calculating birth date and time are not uncommon.

The major procedures in a traditional Chinese wedding “Three Letters and Six Etiquettes”

1, 纳采 na cai-sending match-makers to negotiate with the bride’s family, like the modern proposal. However, in ancient China, the groom side only need to negotiate with bride’s parents instead of the bride herself. The match-maker represents the groom’s family and will bring along around 30 items as gift, among which there is one pair of live goose symbolizing ‘one and only love’.

2, 问名 wen ming- Birthday-matching.

Sheng Chen Ba Zi Birth Date & Time
Sheng Chen Ba Zi Birth Date & Time, Source from Zi Zhu Xuan Fengshui website: Last access 28th August 2016

If both family agrees, they will take both the girl and the boy’s 生辰八字(Birth Date & Time) to a fortune teller and calculate to see if they are a heaven’s match. This is getting the heaven’s approval on the marriage.

3, 纳吉 na ji-Broom will confirm the marriage by giving the brides’s family the first letter 聘书 the Betrothal Letter, with their birthdays written on it. Also, the groom will give the bride betrothal gifts.


4, 纳徵 na zheng, or 过大礼 guo da li-Presenting the wedding gifts.

Betrothal gifts
Betrothal gifts Source from The Chinese Wedding Shop Website Last access 28th August 2016

Groom’s family will send all the gifts to the bride’s home listed in the second letter 礼书 the gift letter. Each gift signifies something auspicious. Guo Da Li is a very important step in Chinese marriages as it signifies the promises of the groom’s family to the bride’s family. After which bride’s family will 回礼 hui li-Return the gift. This is to thanks groom’s family so they will return half of the gifts back to them. Bride’s family will also give groom’s family some other items, such as bride’s handmade items to groom as a gift.

5, 请亲 qing qin-The two families will arrange a wedding date according to Tung Shing for an auspicious date.

Tung Shing
Tung Shing Source from B’tween the Buds blog post Last access 28th August 2016

6, 亲迎 qin ying-The Wedding Ceremony.

Ying Qin Fetching the bride
Ying Qin Fetching the bride Source from Mojingshuo blog post Last access 28th August 2016

The Groom will come to the bride’s house to give them the last letter 迎书 the wedding letter. Groom picks up the bride and then go through the wedding customs at the groom’s house, wedding ceremony and dinner.

Some of the ideas I obtained from this video:

-letters. The three letters are of great importance, like the modern contract, ROM, marriage certificate.

-Gifts. Must have auspicious meaning. The live goose is a very interesting point might be considered in my design.

-Birth date & Time. This varies from individuals, maybe can be a customized part in my jewelry? So to make the jewelry uniquely MINE.

-Commonly know items in Chinese traditional wedding are dates 枣zao, peanuts 花生hua sheng,  logan 桂圆gui yuan, lotus seeds 莲子lian zi—Adding up together is 枣生贵子 zao-sheng-gui-zi, which means “Giving birth to a son soon”.

Zao Sheng Gui Zi source from Ipeen website post by 裸斯妈 Last access 28th August 2016
Zao Sheng Gui Zi
source from website post by 裸斯妈
Last access 28th August 2016

This is to express the good wills for the marriage as giving birth to son is a very important, auspicious event in a Chinese marriage. This can give some inspiration to me as well.


My FYP Proporsal

Exploring Chinese history, culture,as well as the stories behind famous poems and art pieces, combining with 3D printing and other techniques, the aim of this project is to design a set of jewelries that embodies Chinese stories and shows the culture influences of the eras in history. Chinese culture is not independent from the rest of the world, at different period of time, China was influenced by different countries and exotic cultures, at the same time, the society is shaped according to the emperors’ characters and policies. By interpreting Chinese culture, more interesting stories can be discovered about the social-political situations of the times. This set of jewelries are meat to be both decorative and meaningful.