Pingyao, Wedding

Pingyao Wedding

 

On a typical rainy September day in Pingyao we visit the  wedding of Ma Zhiai  (bride) and Wu Huabing (groom).

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

In the morning the groom visited the bride’s home to meet her relatives, prepare for the wedding and have lunch with the guests. When we arrive, workers are disassembling inflatable arches on the street that marked the walking route of the wedding couple to the bride’s home.

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

A few hundred meters further to the east, the groom’s home is being prepared for the second part of the wedding day. A big inflatable gate with golden elephants on both sides marks the entrance to the street of the groom’s home. In the courtyard of the house a stage has been setup where local artists sing festive songs.  Because of the heavy rain, there is no audience in front of the stage; everybody stays inside the house.

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

When the couple enters the house, the bride is wearing a festive red wedding dress and the groom a dark suit with a pink tie. Under the groom’s suit collar there is a paper with imitation gold ingots and coins, folded to the outside in the shape of a little crown. It is an old tradition, but when asked, the elderly people do not know exactly why they do this, they just know that in order to ward off evil they have to do this.

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

At this point all of the groom’s family elders have to hide, not to see the bride, because the bride has to recognize every relative. The groom went through a similar test in the morning at the bride’s home. After the bride and groom have finished their made up they enter the lobby of the main building where two straight-backed chairs are setup for a tribute. Behind the chairs are two men sitting behind a table. They take care of collecting and administering the (financial) gifts to the wedding couple.

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

The bride and groom are standing in front of the chairs. Family of the groom will appear one by one, or if married, couple by couple. The groom introduces the family by the type of kin (e.g. “cousin”) and the bride will greet them with their names. Gifts are received as plain cash or as cash in red envelopes. If relatives are older, the bride and groom should also bow while addressing them. To spite the new wife, some older family members will let the couple wait a while before showing up. The process is quite lengthy and takes almost an hour.

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

As the last family members to pay respect to, the groom’s parents appear. The father must be dressed as a traditional character, such as the Monkey King or a pig. His relatives will dress him up and will paint his face in a clown’s make-up. The outfit is further decorated with a big red flower and a banana with two bell peppers symbolize his male productive organs. This whole process is called “pa hui” (*) and is meant to make the father of the groom realize that the bride is not just a girl he could fall in love with anymore, but that he should know that she is his daughter now. At the same time, the way the father is dressed and made-up “ugly” should prevent the bride feeling attracted to him on this wedding day.  The mother of the groom also gets some make-up, but this is for fun and has no traditional meaning.

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

After the meeting with the groom’s parents, the ceremony has ended. The couple and the guests will go to a restaurant for a festive dinner and after that the bride and groom will be sent to their own room in the house of the groom’s parents.

 

Pingyao Wedding

 

Text: Xie Bing

(*) 扒灰, “pa hui”, literally means “incest between father-in-law and daughter-in-law”  

 

 

PingYao, Preparing for the winter

 

 

 

At a home in PingYao coal briquettes are delivered for the winter.

 

Each cylindrical shaped briquette of coal weighs 1 kilo. The delivery of 800 briquettes is enough for heating and cooking during the winter in this household. They need up to 8 briquettes a day in winter. In the summer they use around 3 briquettes for cooking.

 

The price of one briquette is 0.5 RMB (5 mao). So, the costs for heating and cooking in the winter is 400 RMB.

 

The house has 2 rooms and a kitchen outside. One room has a stove. In the winter the stove from the outside kitchen is moved inside for heating and cooking in the second room.

 

According to the resident of the house (who asked not to mention her name in the blog) the heating in the winter is quite comfortable. Then she talks a bit about her life. She was born in Henan and moved to PingYao when her husband got a job in this town. Now her husband works somewhere else, but she has to stay because her children are still studying in PingYao.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PingYao, Mrs. Huang in her brother’s print shop

 

Mrs. Huang is helping out in the print shop of her younger brother. The shop opened 18 years ago delivering photo copy services. These days services include printing and photo editing as well.

According to Mrs. Huang it is a good business. The 3,000 RMB per month income from the shop is relatively high in PingYao.

There are around 20 competing print stores in the town. Their main business is the scanning, printing or copying of official documents.

Occasionally foreign tourists come in the shop. Maybe once a month. They usually need a copy of their passport.

 

The photo on the wall with the man in military uniform is of her brother. It was taken in 1983.

 

 

 

Hutongs

 

Several posts have been written in this blog about hutongs or nong tangs and we will continue to do so in different contexts. While the previous posts where all written within the context of China’s changing social environment with the hutong symbolizing the (disappearing) tradional way of life in China, today it is just about the romantic feelings of nostalgia that capture so many visitors to hutong areas.

 

On the left a resident is spraying the entrance to a hutong courtyard after a sandstorm in Beijing. On the right a view into the entrance of a courtyard in the old town of PingYao in Shanxi province.

 

 

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