Dating and marriage rituals in china

As the first marriage taboo in Chinese history, consanguineous marriage emerged during the middle Neolithic Age, which banned a parent-offspring marriage but allowed the marriage of people of the same generation (such as the brother and sister of a family).

The representative consanguineous marriage was between Fu Xi (one of the Three August Ones and the Five Lords) and Nv Wa, who were blood brother and sister.

Dictates of Parents and Advice of Matchmakers Free love was absolutely banned in ancient China and was widely condemned as an offence to public decency according to the traditional Confucian ethic codes, so it was the task of parents to arrange marriage for their children in order to maintain order of the traditional patriarchal society.

Tolerance toward Polygamy Generally speaking, it was a traditional national policy to carry out feudalistic monogamy in ancient China, however, the traditional Chinese culture didn't prohibit or explicitly encourage polygamy (a man and multi women).

According to Confucianism, a marriage is the beginning of ethics and a wedding ceremony is the essence of etiquettes, which has a substantial influence on social stability, and only those marriages with formal wedding ceremonies are recognized by society.

The basic principles of an ancient marriage mainly involved the matched social status, the dictates of the parents and the advice of the matchmaker, the ban of the marriage for a couple with the same surname and the tolerance toward polygamy.

The legend went that Shun (one of the Three August Ones and the Five Lords) married Yao's daughters, Ehuang and Nvying, at the same time.

As a transitional stage from the exogamous marriage stage to the monogamous marriage stage, the antithetic marriage (or paired marriage) was an unstable marriage between men and women during the late Neolithic Age, which was very different from modern monogamy and easily dissolved; and it retained some vestiges of group marriage with tolerance toward a husband's or wife's extramarital relationships.

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Six rituals of the traditional Chinese marriage customs have essentially remained over time, known as “Three Letters and Six Etiquettes”, which are passed down from one generation to another.

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