Love in Chinese Culture — Meaningful Love Tokens Other Than Words
Love is a permanent topic. It lasts as long as human history and needs constant expression.
To say love in Chinese culture, love tokens are widely used to confirm relationships or show someone's affection besides words.
In history when marriage was arranged by parents and young couples couldn't date freely, love token was widely used to confirm their relationship.
When men needed to set off to the battlefields, they would exchange tokens with their beloved ones, to leave each other something to remember.
Love tokens in Chinese culture should have a very special connection with the person who gives them 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 an important part of the body; it was given by parents and couldn’t be cut casually.
When people get married, tying 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 in their Wedding; 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 though 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, the comb is a necessary personal effect and romantic love token.
Every day, using a comb that is given by the beloved one is quite sweet and lovely.
On the Traditional Chinese Wedding day, combing the 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 the hairpin was 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 every day, therefore, giving someone’s beloved woman a beautiful Zan is a good way to convey his affection.
Double Stringed Hairpin — Chai
Chai 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 taking one part as a keepsake.
They would then put these two parts back together when the couple reunites.
Self-Disciplined Earplugs to Beautiful Earrings
Thousands of 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 worn by women.
Patterns of earrings changed with time in the history of China, however, self-discipline and trust are still important qualities in a good relationship, which made earrings an important love token for thousands of years.
Endless, Eternal Love — Ring
The circular ring has no starting or ending point, representing endless and eternal love.
The ring is a historical love token, which was an important part of the 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, the ring became a gift only sent from a man to a woman.
Superstitious Origin to Romantic Love Token — Bracelet and Armlet
The bracelet was originally used in sacrifice or sorcery in the history of China and later was used as a 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 or Xiangnang
Over 2,200 years ago, sachet was an important personal effect.
Ancient Chinese people had to wear them when they were visiting elders or participating in important ceremonies.
Sachets 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 medical herbs inside are 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 every day, 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 a fancy fabric with exquisite embroideries.
However, the colors and image embroidery of He Bao needed to follow the 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.
Afterward, 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 the new couple’s hair together, after the groom and bride both cut a wisp of hair on the wedding day.
Today, the knot is still widely used in bracelets, earrings, and decoration pendants in China.
The 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 had carved their names on this lock and locked it in a place full of nimbus, like a magnificent mountain, then their love would be blessed forever.
Blessed, Honorable Love Token — Jade Pendant or 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 the 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 them as decoration.
Later, the jade pendant was disseminated to civilians, but still, follow strict ranks for different social statuses.
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 humans for years.
If a jade accessory, which has been worn by its owner for years, suddenly has a crack or break, 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 the wrist on her wedding day.
Nowadays, jade jewelry is still popular in Chinese culture, though jade pendants have been replaced by other forms like a bracelet, ring, or necklace.
Building of Lifelong Love — Longuette
In the history of China, a woman’s skirt was long and usually connected by several pieces of fabric.
Therefore, sending a beloved one a skirt implies the will to build a romantic relationship that is lifelong and perfectly connected.
Personal, Intimate Representation — Handkerchief
The handkerchief was a very personal necessity in Chinese culture, which people used to wipe out tears or sweat, especially women.
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
The 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.
Besides, Sichuan Pepper also contains many seeds, which is the same pronunciation as kids in the 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 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 the color red, and 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 the Love Pea, became representative of great love in Chinese culture; many types of accessories were made of those magical beans.
For a long time, at a traditional Chinese wedding, the 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 take half each.
Hairpin, jade pendant, bracelets, 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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