Chinese Marriage

Ancient Chinese Marriage

China MarriageChinese Marriage is a ceremonial ritual within Chinese societies that involve a marriage established by pre-arrangement between families. Within Chinese culture, romantic love was allowed, and monogamy was the norm for most ordinary citizens.

Chines Marriage in Ancient history

In Confucian thought, marriage is of grave significance both to families and to society as well as being important for the cultivation of virtue. Traditionally incest has been defined as marriage between people with the same surname. From the perspective of a Confucian family, marriage brings together families of different surnames and so continues the family line of the paternal clan.

This is generally why having a boy is more preferred than a girl when giving birth. Therefore, the benefits and demerits of any marriage are important to the entire family, not just the individual couples. Socially, the married couple is thought to be the basic unit of society. In Chinese history there have been many times when marriages have affected the country’s political stability and international relations. From the Han Dynasty onward, the rulers of certain powerful foreign tribes such as the Mongolians, the Manchus, the Xiongnu, and the Turks demanded women from the Imperial family. Many periods of Chinese history were dominated by the families of the wife or mother of the ruling Emperor. Thus marriage can be related to politics. 

In traditional Chinese thinking, people in "primitive" societies did not marry, but had sexual relationships with one another indiscriminately. Such people were thought to live like animals, and they did not have the precise concept of motherhood, fatherhood, sibling, husband and wife, and gender, not to mention match-making and marriage ceremony. Part of the Confucian "civilizing mission" was to define what it meant to be a Father or a Husband, and to teach people to respect the proper relationship between family members and regulate sexual behavior.

Mythological origin The story about the marriage of Nüwa and Fu Xi, who were once sister and brother respectively, told about how they invented proper marriage procedures after becoming married. At that time the world was unpopulated, so the siblings wanted to get married but, at the same time, they felt ashamed. So they went up to Kunlun Shan and prayed to the heavens. They asked for permission for their marriage and said, “if you allow us to marry, please make the mist surround us.” The heavens gave permission to the couple, and promptly the peak was covered in mist. It is said that in order to hide her shyness, Nüwa covered her blushing face with a fan. Nowadays in some villages in China, the brides still follow the custom and use a fan to shield their faces.

Maternal marriage and monogamy In a maternal marriage, a male would become a son-in-law who lived in the wife’s home. This happened in the transformation of antithetic marriage into monogamy, which signifies that the decline of matriarchy and the growing dominance of patriarchy in the ancient China.