Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Making of Chinese Wedding Garments






    Introduction:

    The traditional Chinese Wedding garment (Kwan kwa) consists of a long skirt (kwan), and an upper gown with buttons in the front (kwa). In traditional Chinese marriage values, the kwan kwa worn by the bride is considered to be of great importance. These garments usually feature patterns of dragons and phoenixes, reason why they are also known as “dragon and phoenix kwa”. In Chinese language, the expression “the dragon and the phoenix bring prosperity” sounds similar to the expression “eternal love”. The making of this type of garment is based on a sketch, with all phases made by hand. The garment is usually made by one single tailor, in order to ensure that patterns are symmetrical, and that the work is consistent, also with quality embroidered details that are coherent with the design.

     

    Conservation Status:

    Despite the popularity of western-style wedding garments nowadays, the Chinese kwan kwa is also still very popular. In wedding ceremonies, many brides still wear traditional wedding garments, particularly at the moment when they offer tea to the senior members of the family. There are still a few traditional wedding shops in Macao that are specialized in making and selling traditional Chinese wedding garments nowadays, , with some of these shops already in existence for more than one hundred years.

     

    Heritage Value:

    The making of traditional Chinese garments has profound cultural meaning, being a craft that was transmitted throughout the ages, which also represents the resilience and continuity of traditional Chinese garment making techniques in Macao. The auspicious meanings of dragon and phoenix patterns, also representing the best wishes for a happy marriage, with underlying traditional Chinese values, also reflects the transmission of this craft through many generations of tailors. It is therefore of significant value also for the study of local customs and culture.


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