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Paper-cuts in the Song Dynasty PDF Print E-mail
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Yu Tang   

Paper-cuts were popular as a matrimonial custom in Song Dynasty.

The traditional matrimonial customs had tremendous changes in the Song Dynasty because of rapid economic development. When the bride got married, her family had to provide a dowry for her. this is called “Pei lián 陪奁”. Furthermore, the bride’s family had to give a dowry to the bridegroom’s family, called “Fa lián 发奁”.

The day before the wedding is “Fa lián 发奁”. Before the bride`s family gave the dowry to the bridegroom`s family, someone who was employed by the bridegroom`s family had to hire a person to send gifts with several types of food and a red paper-cut to the bride`s family. When the bride`s family received those gifts, they would send dowry “Fa lián 发奁”.

Chinese bride. (screenshot)

Another custom in the Song Dynasty was that dowries needed to have red paper-cuts stuck on with the Chinese character “喜” happiness, plus other patterns. Furthermore, all red paper-cuts needed to be made by the bride and her family`s female elders. In like manner, the female elder of the  bridegroom`s family needed to make red paper-cuts which were pasted on the celebrating pavilion, hall and bridal chamber.

When the dowries arrived at the bridegroom’s home, they immediately decorated the bridal chamber by pasting the paper cuttings in many places. On the day of the wedding, a  group of people escorted the bride to the wedding, the bridegroom’s family would hold a rich and colorful ceremony and arrange a feast. Furthermore, guests presented gifts, which also had paper-cut stickers with wishes for future happiness. The next day, the bride would show everyone her dowries in order to show how accomplished she was.

The process of marriage became an opportunity for all women and visitors to compete and exhibit their paper cuttings, and their dowries.

 

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