Bridegroom's Coat

CMC 74-11.2; CD95-192-005

CMC 74-11.2

This embroidered, silk bridegroom's coat was made in Taiwan in the 1970s, and imported by a Toronto store which sold Chinese clothing. A large number of Chinese Canadians live in Toronto. A coat is a portable textile treasure which can be preserved fairly easily by a family, as it can be packed thin and flat. It might even be kept for a groom of the next generation.

Wedding rituals in almost every society are important enough that the bride and groom are dressed in special costumes for the occasion. This is as true for the Trobriand Islander as it is for the Ukrainian farm family. In China, the bride is frequently dressed in a bright red or crimson costume, for red is the colour of good luck. Pure white is often reserved as the colour of mourning, seen often at Asian funerals. The groom may wear various colours, but this particular silk coat is dark blue. A large embroidered symbol is woven into the jacket. It says shou, which means "Long Life". The groom's costume was completed by a small satin hat and matching slippers.

Every culture has specific rituals and customs that are observed only during a wedding. Some of these call upon the gods to bless the union of a man and woman, others to ensure their financial well-being. Still others are related specifically to fertility - hoping the couple will have many children. In Canadian weddings, a religious service is often part of the marriage, as are a feast and an exchange of gifts. Rice throwing, for example, is an expression of hope that the couple will be blessed with children.

Text: Phil Tilney