In China, the establishment of relationships between strange men and women requires "Hongniang", that is, Chinese matchmaker.
Whether in ancient or modern times, matchmakers play an indispensable role in Chinese marriages.
It is their existence that enables countless single Chinese men and women to develop a romantic relationship and eventually lead to marriage.
Chinese Matchmaker History
You know, in ancient China, the custom of "no matchmaker, no marriage" was followed. This shows the importance of matchmakers.
The emergence of the Chinese matchmaker profession: In the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC), it was an official profession. Their status is particularly high, and matchmakers are needed for marriages between princes.
The Chinese matchmakers at this time were all men.
During the Wei and Jin Dynasties (220 AD), as the population increased, there were simply not enough official matchmakers. At this time, matchmakers appeared in the folk to match and meet the single people around them.
Since then, Chinese matchmakers have gradually become middle-aged women.
In modern times: Although China also pursues free love, but with the pressure of work, there are fewer opportunities to meet new friends. Many people use online Chinese dating sites to find their significant other.
Such as Jiayuan dating site: there are a lot of matchmakers on this site to help single men and women.
Matchmaker Ancient China
In fact, "Hongniang" was originally a character in ancient Chinese literary and artistic works (1). Now expresses a person who is zealous in making marriage happen.
Hongniang is Cui Yingying's maidservant, she enthusiastically conveyed Zhang Sheng's affection to Yingying, and promoted their love.
Romance of the Western Chamber // by Wang Shifu (2)
So what was the role of matchmaker in ancient Chinese marriage customs?
The first is that both men and women have reached a suitable age for marriage.
Then, the matchmaker goes to get acquainted with both the man and the woman as well as the family situation.
For example, to know their birth year, zodiac, and to find a fortune teller (similar to astrology) to measure whether they are suitable for being together.
After that, the matchmaker should respond to the situation to both parties based on this information. They need to keep going back and forth between the two families, conveying each other's wishes and requirements.
And they need to use their mouths to try their best to match the marriage.
Matchmaker Chinese Culture
Love in ancient China is precious, because the two sides know too little about each other, even with the help of a matchmaker. And girls are sometimes at a disadvantage in the ancient blind date process.
If you have seen the Disney movie "Mulan", you know that when Mulan went to see the matchmaker, the matchmaker made things difficult for her. Saying that Mulan is too thin to have a son, talking without permission, etc.
Not all ancient Chinese matchmakers were kind, and some matchmakers tried every means to match two people in order to make money, even if they were not suitable at all.
In the end, it was the woman who hurt the most: because divorce was a very shameful thing in ancient China, and the status of girls was not so high.
Chinese Arranged Marriage
In ancient times, arranged marriages existed in China. This is a marriage that is not based on feelings, is not free, and is not consensual.
Sometimes it's not just the parents who choose the marriage partner, but the matchmaker also participates in the arranged marriage.
Arranged marriages are illegal in China today, and China has introduced laws strictly prohibiting such practices.
Modern Chinese Marriages
The Chinese matchmaker tradition is basically the same in both ancient and modern times. That is helping single people find the right partner.
Today, however, the forms of blind date(Xiangqin) are very diverse.
For example, in some Chinese dating/matchmaking shows, some celebrities are invited to observe and help these single men and women. At this time, these stars also played the role of "Chinese matchmaker".
There are also some Chinese matchmaker parks, where parents or themselves will bring materials to publicize in the park in order to find the right person.
How Many Wives Can a Man Have in China?
China is monogamous, so no matter in ancient or modern times, an ordinary Chinese man can only have one wife.
However, it was special in ancient China, and it was also monogamous, but a man (with status) could have multiple concubines.
What is this concubine?
That is, their status is much lower than that of men's wives, and they are not real wives.
However, in ancient times there was a most special existence: that was the emperor! He can have many wives.