Korean Wedding Ceremony - The Closed Eyes of the Bride - Marriage in China - Red, the Bridal Colour - Symbolism of Chinese Wedding Ceremonies - Marriage by Capture - The Goose an Emblem of Conjugal Fidelity - The Silent Bride
In Korea marriage is regarded as so honour-able an institution that the youngest of bridegrooms takes precedence of the oldest and most esteemed bachelor.
Such is the state of public opinion about men who do not marry that they are treated by the Korean law with much the same sort of leniency as minors are by English law. They are regarded as not exactly imbecile, but as men to whom something has to be pardoned.
The marrying age is from twelve to fifteen. The bride is chosen by the parents of the bridegroom.
Women do not bear the patronymic; they are known merely by their first names, Rose, Lily, etc. When they marry they lose even these, and are referred to as So-and-so's wife. They are supposed to sink their individuality in that of their husband.
The Symbolism of the Goose
On the eve of the wedding, the bridegroom invites his friends to help him in "donning the tuft," that is, in undoing the long plait in which his hair has always hung, and in raising and twisting it into the topknot of a married man. This topknot is a mark of citizenship, and becomes a cherished possession, bringing dignity to its wearer.
The wedding-day arrived, the bride puts on a loose, silk garment, rather like an all-enveloping pinafore. A patch of bright red paint is dabbed upon her forehead, and her face is covered thickly with white powder. Her eyelids are then gummed down, until after the marriage ceremony. The poor thing is then thickly veiled and carried in a covered chair to the bridegroom's house, escorted by relatives and friends. As the emblem of conjugal fidelity, a goose is carried at the head of the procession.
A Curious Dumb Show
The marriage service consists chiefly of a series of low bows, signifying mutual consent. The bride bows four times to the bridegroom's father, and twice to the bridegroom. He, in response, bows four times to the bride. The young couple are then expected to sign a deed of ratification. If anyone wonders how the bride can do this with gummed-down eyelids, the explanation is that she usually cannot write, and simply makes the motion of doing so with her left hand.
The wedding veil is then taken away, the gum is removed from the bride's eyes, and the married couple see each other, probably for the first time. must be very trying to a Korean bride, for she is not thought much of if she speaks a single" word either on her wedding-day or for several days after. It is the part of the bridegroom to tease and coax her or trap her into saying something, but should she do so, she creates an unfavourable impression.
Second marriages are disapproved. Women who commit suicide when their husbands die are regarded with veneration.
A Chinese Marriage
An official matchmaker acts as intermediary between parents in China, and so long-drawn are the formalities that a "marriage in haste" is impossible, though repentance at leisure may not be so.
The Chinese bride is expected to cry incessantly for several days before her marriage. On the day before the wedding her trousseau and household effects are sent to her bridegroom's house. On the marriage day he goes to fetch her, followed by a long procession of relatives and friends. Sometimes he sends his best friend as proxy to head the procession. After a few formalities the procession returns, escorting the bride, who is seated in a sedan-chair, robed and veiled in red, with a crown of tinsel and mock jewels hung with strings of pearls. The chair is red, and the men who carry it are dressed in red, the bridal colour. The musicians wear it, too. The wedding presents, tied in red wrappers, are carried by coolies with red plumes in their hats. Flags, lanterns, banners, all are red, the colour signifying joy in the East.
When the procession arrives at the bridegroom's house, he taps at the door of the sedan-chair, and it is opened by an instructress who officiates as leader of etiquette to the bride, prompting her every act throughout the ceremony. The bride, still closely veiled, is lifted and carried over a pan of lighted charcoal, a maid-servant offering her rice at the same moment.
The custom of carrying the bride over the threshold of her new home is to be found in all four continents, and is supposed to be a survival of marriage by capture. Chinese wedding ceremonies are particularly rich in symbols of this.
Meanwhile, the bridegroom, having preceded his bride into the reception-hall, awaits her coming there. She prostrates herself before him. After a moment's pause, insisted on by etiquette, he raises her veil and sees her, perhaps for the first time. Custom forbids either of them to utter a single word as they gaze into each other's faces.
The bridegroom then leads her to a divan, and they both sit down. There is a proverb to the effect that should one of them sit on any portion of the other's dress, that one will be ruler in the household.
The ceremony is as follows. The bridegroom, addressing his ancestors, announces that, in obedience to the command of his' parents, he has taken ------ to wife, and he beseeches them to bestow their choicest gifts on himself and on his partner. This declaration is followed by prostrations in honour of Heaven and earth, and the bridegroom's parents. The bride's parents are not included.
The newly-wedded couple now retire to pledge each other in wine.
In the evening the bride has to wait on her husband's friends, and in perfect silence. Talkativeness is one of the seven sins for which a Chinaman may divorce his wife. Her girl friends try to tease her into talking during the first few evenings of marriage, but she has to resist the temptation, in order to prove that she is going to be a quiet wife.
If a Chinaman marries more than one wife,-the first still retains her precedence. The later brides must act as servants to the first; they cannot even sit in her presence unless she grants permission.
At Chinese, as at Korean weddings, the goose, as an emblem of conjugal fidelity, is given a position of honour.
Sometimes the bridegroom has to pretend to capture his bride, whose friends protect her, armed with sticks. And in the country, at times, a similar farce is kept up, the bride being hoisted among the branches of a tree, while her friends stand round the trunk. The bridegroom has to get rid of them, and climb up for his lady. The friends make no stout resistance-they would be very sorry if the marriage were not carried out.
A Korean wedding group. Marriage is regarded with the deepest veneration in Korea and a bachelor is looked upon with contemptuous pity