When we think of the “traditional” wedding dress, we immediately come to mind the classic white dress, long, with a veil. That’s the way it is for our culture, but in the world there is an immense and colorful variety of traditional wedding dress. Are you curious? Let’s see someone!
There are those who get married in short, some in long; those who opt for the mermaid model and those who prefer the princess style, but the color of the dress is that: white. This, at least, according to our western tradition. As we have been handed down, in fact, we know that this color was chosen to symbolize the purity and virginity of the bride. The wedding dress: history, colors and customs over time.
It is not like that everywhere, though. The wedding dress, starting from the color, has always been representative of a culture, with its customs and beliefs. Let’s start this journey around the globe together, discovering the clothes of different cultures.
The traditional wedding dress in different cultures
The word “Sari”, from the ancient Sanskrit language, means “strip of cloth” and indicates the typical Indian female clothing, extremely comfortable and suitable for women of all ages.
In Indian culture, marriage is highly sacred. In fact, it not only unites the two spouses, but also their families and their ancestors. At this point, it is easy to understand that the Sari is the symbol of wealth and well-being, of the bride’s family.
The traditional Indian wedding dress, or the wedding Sari, is strictly in silk, with precious embroideries and full of veil. The color changes from the area. In the northern areas of India, the traditional colors of the dress are red, auspicious, and green, a wish for fertility. In southern India, on the other hand, the Sari Bridal is traditionally white.
‘Ad backdrop’, in India, is the watchword: every jewel and every color has a specific symbolism:
- Mang tikka: it is the pendant that the brides put on the forehead, with the chain that covers the central part of the hair. This jewel represents the potential of the woman to perpetuate the lineage of the future groom.
- Sindoor: is a pigment in blood-red powder, which symbolizes the indissoluble belonging to one man.
- Nath: big nose ring, which the groom removes the wedding night, demonstrating the end of his bride’s virginity.
- Mehndi (Tattoo Henna): the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with temporary henna tattoos, considered propitiatory.
- Bracelets: cover the bride’s wrists entirely. The custom has it that, when her husband dies, they are broken and never worn again.
Even in Sri Lanka, which is an island country in Asia, with a somewhat oriental, somewhat western style, the wedding dress is an embroidered silk sari. Also, the number of precious stones that the bride wears must be odd, because it is believed to bring good luck.
The traditional Chinese wedding dress, called Qipao, is red, representative color of love and good luck. Not only the dress, but also the jewelry and accessories, should all be chosen based on this shade. Black, blue and gray are forbidden, negative colors, which cause pain and misfortune. However, in recent years, brides have gained the freedom to choose whether to opt for the white dress, following the western fashion. Instead of the veil there is a large headdress, usually gilded.
The bride used to change clothes three times a day:
- In the morning she wears the traditional Chinese dress, or the flowered qipao, adorned with xiapei and fengguan, respectively a cape and a hat, decorated with fringes and jewels;
- During the ritual, more and more often nowadays, the bride wears the “western” white dress;
- In the evening, finally, the bride goes back to wearing red, with a long elegant dress.
In Japan, brides wear three or more distinct dresses during the marriage celebration.
The traditional Japanese wedding dress is the white kimono, a color that symbolizes purity. After the ceremony, the bride can choose to wear a red dress, a color that, like in China, represents luck. Some wedding kimonos are decorated with red details to combine the meanings represented by these two colors. Even in the case of Japan, Western influences have led many brides to opt for our classic white dress.
There is no veil, but a traditional hat chosen among the Tsunokakushi, a hat with a rounded shape, a symbol of calm and obedience, or the Watabooshi, the same, but more voluminous.
The traditional dresses, worn by the bride and groom in Korea, for the wedding ceremony, are extremely elaborate. The hanbok, which was the traditional Korean costume for thousands of years, consists of a jacket and a long skirt.
There is a more modern version of Hanbok: the Hwarot. Much more colorful and embellished, with wider sleeves and skirts, the Hwarot is used in traditional weddings, even today. Around hwarot it is wrapped a taedae, or a long silk sash, red, tied behind his back.
For the wedding, the bride wore a complicated hairstyle of the head, worn with her hair tied and pulled behind her neck, stopped by a yongjam, hairpin called dragon-shaped, well-wishing. On the head the bride wore the chokturi or the hwagwan, two types of ceremonial diadems, adorned with precious gems, such as jade, amber and pearls, or with silk flowers.
Today, most marriages take place according to Western custom. The Korean wedding culture has lost much of its traditions due to Japanese colonization, the Korean War and, finally, the recent industrialization process.
In the 18th century, the Kaftan (caftan) was worn only by the wealthiest women in Morocco, while today it is the symbol of the Moroccan female culture. The Kaftan is a wide robe, long to the ankles, which is buttoned on the front.
The caftan worn by Moroccan brides, at their wedding, is called “al Fir3awn” (which means “the pharaoh”) and composed of fine fabrics, embroidered with gold and silver threads and adorned with jewels. The brides also wear a special belt, called ‘mdamma’, very valuable.
Also in Morocco we have the traditional white wedding dress, but only on the first day. The Moroccan bride, in fact, changes her clothes from 3 to 7 times, since the wedding ceremony lasts from 3 to 7 days.
The first Kaftan is similar to our western dress, in white, in lace and fine fabrics. When the bride changes the white dress, she throws it in the air 7 times, as a propitiatory rite. The clothes to follow are striking caftans, adorned at all points, with light and bright colors, with the aim of attracting the eyes of those present.
Over time, everything changes and even the traditional Moroccan kaftan has been modernized by current designers.