Exhibitions
AN EXHIBITION OF CHINESE WEDDING DOWRY FURNITURE - June 2014
An Exhibition June 6-26th
Altfield Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of antique Chinese auspicious wedding furniture. A wedding marks the beginning of the lifelong unity for the bride & groom, and the joyous new relationship of the two families. For centuries, weddings have been celebrated with symbolic customs and rituals in China. Wedding furniture, particularly in red lacquer, plays an important role in the Chinese traditions. Red lacquer wedding furniture brings blessings, happiness and good fortune to the new couples.
As the colour red symbolizes happiness, prosperity and the ability to drive away misfortune and all things bad and evil, red is widely used in the celebrations of wedding, from the wedding outfits to the furniture and accessories.
When a daughter is born in rural areas, a camphor tree is planted. The assumption is that when she is old enough to marry, the camphor tree will be able to be cut down for the timber to make chests and cabinets for her wedding dowry.
In Chinese bridal traditions, the bride moves to her new husband's home with a procession of her "dowry" goods preceding her. The star pieces of the dowry would be cabinets and chests, containing embroidered silk clothing, bedding and furnishings inside. Such pieces would be lacquered in red, and the decorative motifs would be very personal choices, and therefore individualize the pieces. As the dowry reflects the wealth and status of the bride's family, the family would ensure that the bride is given the best and the most lavish dowry that they can present. At the groom's home, the groom's family would fill the room for the newlywed couple with new furniture, such as a wedding bed and cabinets, to bring blessings to the new couple.
Altfield Gallery has put together a grouping of pieces to show how the new sleeping areas would have been decorated and assembled. Featured in our exhibition are some of the finest examples of red lacquer wedding furniture such as red lacquer canopy beds with gilt carvings of auspicious symbols, gilt painted red lacquer cabinets of butterflies (a symbol of prosperity) and of children at play (a symbol of abundant off-springs), red lacquer wedding cabinets with circular decorative brass plate, red lacquer travelling tiered boxes for dowry gifts, wash basin rack, garment rack, and more.
At the same time, a group of hand-embroidered textiles have been framed for display. Girls in old China spent a considerable amount of time creating dowry bed covers, baby carriers and other special textile as they were growing up, in anticipation of the day they would leave home on their marriage. Fine examples of ethnic minorities, such as the Miao or Dai, as well as classic Han and Manchu pieces, are showcased.
We invite you to visit our showrooms in the Gallery as well as the Annex in Aberdeen, and witness the wondrous Chinese traditions of wedding furniture and accessories, which not only symbolize good luck, but also are beautiful accents and superb decorative and functional pieces in today's contemporary d├ęcors.