Bride from Wedding Procession, 1368–1644, The John R. Van Derlip Fund and gift of funds from Mr. and Mrs. Cargill MacMillan, Jr.; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cleveland, 89.60.1
So joyous and auspicious were weddings in China that ceramic reproductions of the nuptials often followed the couple to their graves. Placed in family tombs, these miniatures allow us to glimpse traditional marital customs. In ancient times, couples did not meet before the wedding—engagements were forged through a strict script of etiquette, and love didn’t enter the picture until later. As shown here, wedding processions departed from the bride’s house after a nine-course banquet eaten behind a “spirit-blocking screen.” She was escorted to the groom’s home, carried on a large dragon-decorated palanquin (enclosed bed), accompanied by throngs of musicians. The five chests represent her dowry. The ceremony took place at the groom’s home, before the family altar and ancestors.
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