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.
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.
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.
6, 亲迎 qin ying-The Wedding Ceremony.
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”.
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.