Friday, September 15, 2017

Nyonya Wedding Costume

The traditional Peranakan wedding lasted twelve days and consisted of various rituals and rites which reflect their values and rich culture. Some of the wedding rituals included:-
1. The "Lap Chai" ceremony which involved exchanging of gifts between the families of the bride and the groom.
2. The "Chiu Thau" ceremony, a hair-combing ceremony to initiate the bride and groom into adulthood.
3. The "Chim Pang" ceremony which marks the first meeting between the couple where the bride would lead the groom into the bridal chamber where he would unveil her. Together they would be served tea and a bowl of "Kueh Ee" (small white and red dumplings) in a sweet broth.
4. The "Sah Jit" held on the third day of the wedding where the couple would pay respects to their elders and ancestors.
5. The "Chia Sia" ceremony, where the groom’s friends and younger relatives were invited to a celebration in the bridal chamber.
6. The "Dua Belas Hari" or twelfth day ceremony, where the marriage would be confirmed and approved by proof of the bride's virginity. Firstly, the bride's parents would invite the groom's mother to inspect a handkerchief (known as a "Bim Poh") collected from the wedding bed. The handkerchief will be placed on a tray and presented to the groom's mother for inspection, where she would be invited to perform a test by squeezing lime juice on the handkerchief in hope of ascertaining the authenticity of the stain. The groom's mother would normally refrain from performing the test as it would also demean the bride.

However, such elaborate weddings are no longer held today.

The traditional twelve-day Peranakan wedding required different outfits to be worn on different days for the various ceremonies and rituals. Even for a modest wedding, a minimum of two ceremonial dresses would be required; at least one for the first day of the wedding and the other for the final day.

Pictures below is a very unusual turquoise satin top wedding costume which is intricately embroidered with flower motifs. This top is to be worn during the "Dua Belas Hari" ceremony. I was told that it was sewn by a married lady with many children and when taken off after the wedding ceremony, are not to be washed but have to be kept until the owner dies.


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