August 9, 2011

Chinese (Foochow) Bridal Tea Set

As many of my readers would know Foochow girls of my age were not be married off in the traditional manner (with fire crackers and big lanterns) as those were post Communist insurgency day  in Sarawak and times were rather hard in the early 70's.  No dowry( 送嫁妆) carried on bamboo poles paraded ahead of my bridal car . No Foochow brass band announced our wedding either!!

 Because my wedding was a simple Church affair without the presence of a living father my mother wanted the occasion to be simple without pomp and splendour.  I therefore did not even receive a set of wedding tea cups. Did I really want a set? I cannot remember if I did ask for one...and I think my mum did not even suggest anything at all....Keep it simple were her words and those words were echoed by all my relatives. Foochows are after all very practical and pragmatic people. No frills at all. If there were wedding planners in those days they would be paralysed by this attitude!!

So perhaps after 37 years (as a replacement ) I am writing about them here in this posting. Do take all these with a big pinch of humour.

According to the traditional Chinese practices the Chinese dowry may be delivered with the return gifts on the day of betrothal or delivered a few days before the wedding. Many families continue to practise this in certain places around the world.

So this gives the impression that Chinese weddings are expensive affair for the groom's parents since they have to pay for the betrothal gifts, bride price and wedding banquet. Most non Foochow men dare not even think of marrying Foochow girls because of the bride price to start with. But today the trend is slowly changing for the better.

However,today as it was in the past, it may not be so, as the bride's parents also have a long long list of items to prepare for the bride's dowry and may also co-pay for the wedding banquet. (According to Foochow customs it is the bridegroom who has to foot the engagement party costs - which thus becomes part of the dowry and it may be the only event he has to pay for if nothing else is asked).

According to the Chinese wedding planner I have met recently ( it is possible and within the wedding budget) the dowry typically include personal items for the bride and household or electrical appliances for the couple's new home, such as
tea set,
bedroom furniture and bathroom items,
set of washbasins and buckets/double happiness spitoon called "子孙桶",(very optional now but still available in many outlets in Miri)
electrical household appliances,
gold jewellery,
even bicycle

These are my photos of some selected tea sets ...There are more in the two Chinese Wedding gift shops in Miri.

A tea set for the wedding tea ceremony must be included. Traditionally after the wedding, the tea set is kept and used once again when the bride's and groom's daughter serve her parents tea when she gets married.
It is a chinese tradition for daughter-in-law to greet her parents-in-law with tea (敬茶)every morning. However, in modern society, such traditions are no longer followed although I heard some families still want to practise this.

The bride will only serve her parents-in-law tea during the wedding ceremony and perhaps during certain festive events, such as the in-law's birthdays and chinese new year.

Here's a pink set which is fairly traditional in shape and design. According to the elderly lady who knows about these tea sets - whether four or five cups is not important. There are some tea sets with six cups even. It is actually with four cups according to her. But a small tray to complete the set is a must. We must try to look for the Japanese manufactured ones.
This lovely tea set is from Japan. Very trendy in the 80's.

So I am wondering if many of my readers who are Chinese still keep their wedding tea set?????????? I did mention to my friend that I might go and buy a set for myself - and put them on display (smile)...Two of my daughters have been married off and I did not give them tea sets as may be they are smiling when they read this...This is just after  all some knowledge shared about our traditions from China.


wenn said...

cute tea sets.

Ann said...

The first Foochow girl that married into the family, was a LAU. For her confinement, she requested 6 eggs a day, everyday.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Wenn...yes they are really nice. There are some very modern ones in the two shops I mentioned...and even better ones in KL!! I am wondering why the Japanese also make the double happiness tea sets. May be there is a special factory for Taiwan etc.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

That's the normal diet of a new mother 6 eggs in the past. I don't think I can eat like that. I had good food for two weeks and then fought with the confinement lady because I wanted to eat vegetables. Wah! She was not happy! I had long beans and french beans and later some Kai Lan. I wanted to eat bean curd!! That was a no no no....

Janice said...

Hi. Your teacup sets look wonderful! Just wondering if you still remember which wedding gift shops are you referring to specifically? Thank you so much.

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