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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

How to be a Lisu bride?

By Qianyu Han

November 16

China has a sophisticated system of customs when it comes to weddings. From engagement to the wedding night, customs vary from region to region and ethnic minority to ethnic minority.

China has a sophisticated system of customs when it comes to weddings. From engagement to the wedding night, customs vary from region to region and ethnic minority to ethnic minority.

China has a sophisticated system of customs when it comes to weddings. From engagement to the wedding night, customs vary from region to region and ethnic minority to ethnic minority.

Now, let’s see what brides need to do in the Lisu minority, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group that are spread over southwest China, northeast India, and border areas between Thailand and Laos.

A bride getting ready. [Photo/NEWSSC.org]
Face Shaving

Shaving the bride’s face is an important part of the wedding preparation for Lisu people. It is a private ceremony that takes place on the morning of the wedding day in thick woods, where male presence is completely forbidden.

Female family members from the bride’s side will apply plaster powder along her hairline and pluck the fine hairs that grow around it. After the fine hair has been removed, the plaster powder will be wiped off and the bride will get a new hairdo with two braids tucked under a red wedding veil.

A bridal procession on foot. [Photo/NEWS.cn]
Bridal Procession

Now that the shaving part is done, the bride will go to her boudoir to get freshened up and put on a wedding dress that has been hand-made by her family. This will be followed by a ceremony to pay respects to God and sing folk songs. After this, the bridal procession is officially ready to set out.

A bridal procession halts on its way to the groom’s place.[Photo/NEWS.cn]
No matter how long or rough the road is, the bride has to do the whole procession on foot. According to tradition, the bridal procession has to make three stops on its way to the groom’s place; one near the bride’s family house, one near the groom’s family house, and one in-between.

The bride’s family holding bedding above their heads and covering the bride underneath in the middle. [Photo/NEWSSC.org]
The groom will send out members of his family to pick up the bride once the bridal procession has finally reached his place. At this point, members of the bride’s family have to hold bedding above their heads and cover the bride, who will be in the middle of the procession, until entering the groom’s front door.

The groom’s family picking up the bride. [Photo/NEWS.cn]
Wedding Banquet

The wedding banquet will be held outdoor for families and relatives. After wining and dining comes the formal wedding ceremony where the bride and groom bow to the elders of both families. What’s different is that the Lisu people will put a bamboo crate in front of them to receive wedding money. The bride and groom have to take bows and propose toasts to thank whoever throws money in the crate.

Outdoor wedding banquet.[Photo/NEWS.cn]
After-Party

As the formal ceremony comes to a close, the climax of the wedding gets under way. People gather together outside and start dancing to the beat of gourd pipes until dawn. Since lots of relatives come from afar and the groom’s family cannot accommodate them all for the night, dancing together is seen as the best solution to keep the festivities going and keep warm in the high altitude cold at the same time.

People dancing at wedding night.[Photo/NEWS.cn]
The Next Day

According to tradition, the newly-weds have to take their young siblings out to herd sheep the next morning, signifying the birth of a new family and the beginning of a new life.

The marriage custom of the Dechang Lisu ethnic minority, along with 8 other items such as their folk dance, traditional clothes, and embroidery, was successively included in the provincial list of intangible cultural heritage of Sichuan around 2011.

 

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