A Newly Compiled Matchmaker's Wedding Guide


This book is a matchmaker’s guide to weddings. The traditional Chinese wedding required much involvement by “matchmakers,” a term that came to mean all persons or events that acted as go-betweens in a marriage between two families. The guide is a 24-juan work in two parts, each consisting of 12 juan, printed in Jianyang in the late Southern Song dynasty, or around 1225–79. In Part 1, juan 1 discusses wedding etiquette; juans 2–6 trace the origins of family names; juans 7–9 deal with essential stories; juan 10 records various facts about the marriages of well-known personalities; and juans 11–12 contain some details of the facts in juan 10. In Part 2, juan 1 contains forms of announcements; juan 2 has cautionary warnings about writing marriage contracts; juan 3 advises on how a matchmaker should make an offer of marriage on behalf of a family; juan 4 advises on how to send presents for a betrothal; juans 5–9 contain advice on betrothals for different types of people, including officials and scholars, city employees, relatives, and peasants and laborers; juan 10 advises on betrothals for remarriages and for taking concubines; juan 11 advises how to choose a date for the betrothal; and juan 12 indicates how to welcome a bride and make merry. Issued to meet a practical need, the book now has considerable historical value. This title was not included in the catalogue of Si ku quan shu (The complete collection of the four treasuries) and no new editions and reprints were ever published. This is possibly the only extant copy. The book has a number of seal impressions of several renowned book collectors of later centuries, such as Ji Zhenyi (1630–74), a late Ming and early Qing bibliophile; Mi jun lou, the library of Jiang Ruzao (1877–1954), an industrialist and book collector; and Zhang Heng (1915–63), an appraiser of Chinese painting and calligraphy. There are also inscriptions at the beginning of the work by late Qing and early Republican scholars, such as Yang Shoujing (1839–1915), a historian, geographer, calligrapher and bibliophile, and two scholars, Ye Changchi (1849–1917) and Ye Dehui (1864–1927). A notation by Jiang Biao (1860–99), a member of the imperial Hanlin Academy, records that, when he and a friend acted as matchmakers for two families, on the third day of the eighth month of 1889, the 15th year of the Guangxu reign, they were shown this book by the father of the bride.

Last updated: January 3, 2018