I was psyched when I found a -- no, the -- dress for my wedding -- ivory, lace, train, the works. But apparently one dress is not good enough for a Chinese wedding. My mom (in the voice reserved for things of monumental importance) demands at least 3 dresses: a "western" bridal gown, a Chinese qua or qipao, and an evening gown. Apparently ("There are rules! Rules!") not only does custom dictate how many dresses one must change into (some brides go for as many as 7!), it also dictates when one must change into these getups, as well as what type of jewelry goes with each outfit. There goes my dream of sashaying about in my Monique Lhuillier all night. I'm going to spend all night changing from one outfit to another.
There are two types of traditional ceremonial costumes: . . . long gowns and short jackets . . . for men, and [qua] for women. In the past, people of the middle and upper class often wore these traditional costumes for birthday banquets or on other grand occasions. In recent decades, however, [qua] embroidered with the dragon-and-phoenix pattern has been the ceremonial costume for brides. . . . The wedding costumes are usually embroidered with auspicious patterns such as the dragon and phoenix, mandarin ducks or flowers and plants. Traditional [qua] have two decorative sashes embroidered at the centre of the lapel. These bands are called zisundai ("offspring" bands), which means "having an abundance of offspring."It looks something like this:
The prospect of wearing an art piece alone probably would have swung me over to the qua side. But then I visited Koon Nam Wah's website and read all about the xi fu (masters) who create KNW's embroidered pieces. The xi fu have to do some pretty fine embroidery work, so it's no surprise that KNW selects only those with skill and dexterity. But that's not all. You see, sweat can damage the embroidery and material. So KNW selects only xi fu who don't sweat. Yeah, you read that right. Only those with the ability to suppress their glandular secretions need apply.