Tradition of China — Love Token
Love is a permanent topic. It lasts as long as human history, and needs constant expression.
In the history when marriage was arranged by parents and young couples couldn't date freely, love token was widely used to confirm their relationship and show their love in tradition of China.
When men needed to set off to the battlefields, they would exchange love token with their beloved ones, to leave each other something to remember from.
Love token in Chinese culture should have very special connection with the person who gives it away, usually something heirloom or exquisitely handmade articles. Once love tokens were exchanged, they pledged their loyalty and eternal love.
Importance of Hair in Chinese Culture
In ancient Chinese culture, hair was considered as an important part of the body; it was given by parents and couldn’t be cut casually.
When people get married, to tie a strand of the new couple’s hair together was an important ceremony, meaning they would be connected forever.
In the past, when a man was allowed to have many women, only the most honorable wife was qualified to have this Bind Up of Hair Rite with her husband; other inferior concubines were not allowed to have this rite.
Therefore, cutting off a wisp of one’s hair and handing it out was a serious means to convey someone’s love and commitment.
If a girl gives a boy a strand of her hair, that means she is deeply in love with him, no doubt; even she had never said it out loud.
Certainly, the wisp of hair would always be well decorated, using a red ribbon or in an exquisite handmade pouch.
Traditional Chinese Love Token — Comb
Considering the hair’s importance in ancient Chinese culture, comb is a necessary personal effect and romantic love token.
Every day, using comb that is given by the beloved one is quite sweet and lovely.
On the Traditional Chinese Wedding day, combing bride’s hair is a significant rite, which means everything would be smooth and lucky, and the new couple would stay together happily till their hair turned gray.
The Most Ancient, Historical Token — Hairpin / Zan
Using of the hairpin was the representative of being an adult in the history of China.
When women turned 15 years old, there would be a Coming of Age Ceremony to put on hairpins, tie their hair up, and claim them as adults who were ready to get married.
Zan was an important daily necessity that people wore everyday, therefore, giving someone’s beloved women a beautiful Zan is a good way to convey his affection.
Double Stringed Hairpin — Chai
Chai was evolved from Zan and was also used to fasten and tie the hair.
But the most important difference is that Chai has two sticks, which look like two Zans connected together.
When a couple had to separate for a while, the woman usually splits her favorite Chai into two parts, each of them took one part as a keepsake.
They would then put these two parts back together when the couple reunite.
Self Disciplined Earplugs to Beautiful Earrings
Thousands years ago, ancient Chinese would hang two little pendants on their hat or hair ornament like Zan, to use them as earplugs when they needed to rest.
The earplugs were then regarded as a representative of self-discipline and introspection, a highly required characteristic in Chinese culture, for being a good way to avoid hearing and believing anything, before careful consideration.
Gradually, these two pendants turned into earrings, a decoration specifically wore by women.
Patterns of earrings changed with time in the history of China, however, self-discipline and trusting are still important qualities in a good relationship, which made earring an important love token for thousands of years.
Endless, Eternal Love — Ring
The circular ring has no starting or ending point, representing the endless and eternal love.
The ring is a historical love token, which was an important part of engagement gift that a couple sent to each other in Chinese culture.
Unmarried women didn’t wear it in the history of China.
Around a thousand years ago, ring became a gift only sent from a man to a woman.
Superstitious Origin to Romantic Love Token
— Bracelet & Armlet
The bracelet was originally used in sacrifice or sorcery in the history of China, and later was used as bound to keep a woman around.
Gradually, it became a love token to show a couple’s wish to be together permanently.
Fortune and Blessing — Sachet / Xiangnang
Over 2,200 years ago, sachet was an important personal effects.
In ancient China, people had to wear it when they were visiting elders or participating in important ceremonies.
Sachet could be made of jade, gold, silver or fabric with fancy embroidery, and with scented flowers, spices or medical herbs stuffing inside.
Sachet with spices could make someone smells good, while with medical herbs inside is believed to keep people healthy.
Therefore, it became soon a representative of fortune and blessing. Dexterous women usually would make sophisticated scented sachets for their beloved ones to wear everyday, to show their love and respect.
Ancient Satchel — He Bao
He Bao is a pouch that can hang on the wrist or wear on the shoulders, in which people can put small or important things, like a handkerchief or coins or seals.
It was originally made of furs, then developed into fancy fabric with exquisite embroideries.
However, colors and images embroidery of He Bao needed to follow hierarchy strictly in ancient times.
For quite a few centuries in the history of China, officials wore He Bao when they meet emperors for work, and put important things, like a seal, inside.
Therefore, wearing an exquisite and well designed He Bao made by beloved ones was believed to be proud and warm in Chinese culture.
Chinese God of Marriage and His Red Line
In Chinese culture, the God of Marriage is a kind old man, who lives under the moon or a tree, or in a mysterious love palace.
He uses an invisible red string to connect a man and a woman on their ankles.
Afterwards, this couple would fall in love and end up with a happy marriage, no matter the situation of their ages, class origins, or distances.
Twined Love by Red Lines — Truelove Knot
The Truelove Knot is twined together using two red strings, which represents eternal, inseparable love blessed by the Chinese God of Marriage.
In ancient China, on a new couple’s wedding day, each family should provide a red silk ribbon and then tie them into a Truelove Knot.
The groom and bride should hold each side of the knot to finish all the rites of their wedding ceremony.
In addition, people also use the Truelove Knot technique to tie new couple’s hair together, after the groom and bride both cut a wisp of hair on the wedding day.
Till today, the knot is still widely used in bracelet, earring, and decoration pendants in China.
Reward of the True Love — Love Lock
It is said that if a couple is truly in love, then they could be rewarded a love lock by the God of Marriage.
After they having carved their names on this lock and lockuped it in a place full of nimbus, like a magnificent mountain, then their love would be blessed forever.
Blessed, Honorable Love Token — Jade Pendant / Yu Pei
Throughout the history of China, jade was not only used for decoration.
It also was a representative of noble morals and etiquette, such as gentleness, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, integrity and loyalty.
Around 3,000 years ago, jade was widely worn by noble class, when a decent gentleman should always wear jade unless something severe or sad happened.
Jade pendant was usually worn on the waist, outside of clothes; some believed that it was originally used to hold down people’s bottom dress.
At that time, jade was a presentation of someone's social status and honorable morals in Chinese culture.
Gradually, both men and women could wear it as a decoration.
Later, jade pendant was disseminated to civilians, but still follow strict ranks for different social status.
Nowadays, jade jewelry is still popular in Chinese culture, though jade pendant is replaced by other forms like bracelet, ring or necklace.
Jade is believed could bring people good luck, and protect its owner from bad things.
In ancient Chinese culture, it is said that jade will be inspirited and can protect the owner, if it has been worn by human for years.
If a jade accessary, which has been worn by its owner for years, suddenly has a crack or broken, this means it had resisted a horrible encounter for its owner already.
Therefore, man could give their precious jade pendant to his beloved woman, to show how extremely important she is to him.
The girl usually would weave a colorful fringe, and attach it to the bottom of her sweetheart’s jade pendant, using the same type of fringe that a bride would wear on wrist on her wedding day.
Building of Lifelong Love — Longuette
In history of China, woman’s skirt was long and usually connected by several pieces of fabric.
Therefore, sending beloved one a skirt implies the will to build a romantic relationship that is lifelong and perefectly connected.
Personal, Intimate Representation — Handkerchief
The handkerchief was a very personal necessity in Chinese culture, which people used to wipe out the tears or sweat, especially for woman.
Girls usually would make handkerchiefs themselves, using fancy fabric and exquisite embroidery.
Hence, if a girl gives a boy her handkerchief, that means she likes him, or even fell in love with him already.
Element of Queen's Wall — Sichuan Pepper
Odor of Sichuan Pepper was once believed could exorcise evil spirits; hence, in the history of China, royals used to mix it inside the coating to paint queen’s walls.
In addition, Sichuan Pepper also contains many seeds, which is the same pronunciation with kids in Chinese language.
Therefore, in Chinese culture, sending a bunch of Sichuan Pepper was an implicit way to express the wish to have children with someone. However, this is no longer used nowadays.
Feeling that Will Never Fade Away — Love Pea
The Love Pea was originated from a sad love legend in the history of China.
Thousands of years ago, a woman’s husband was recruited to join the army and protect their country. Years later, other guys from her village all came back, except her beloved husband.
She couldn’t believe that her husband would never come back to her again. Since then, she leaned on a big tree on a nearby mountain, facing the roadway that her husband left, when her tears kept dropping into that tree.
Decades later, her tears turned into color red, so did beans produced by that tree she leaned on every day.
These red beans are heart shaped, bright and firm, glittering and translucent, and would never fade or decompose.
Gradually, these red beans, officially named as the Love Pea, became representative of great love in Chinese culture; many types of accessaries were made of those magical beans.
For a long time, in traditional Chinese wedding, bride would wear a Love Pea bracelet or necklace on her wedding day, wishing for a happy marriage filled with love and fortune.
Witness of Separation and Reunion — Half Thing
In the history of China, it was common that a couple needed to be separated for a while, sometimes even for decades.
Therefore, they would cut something into two pieces, and took a half each.
Hairpin, jade pendant, bracelet or jewelry boxes, everything special and preservable would do.
For those who had to leave a place for a long time, or even permanently, the half thing is a very important token and the witness of a relationship and kindred in Chinese culture.
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