What we talk about when we talk about weddings can tell us so much about a culture. The dominance of the patriarchy, the role of economics in marriage matches, our responsibility to our in-laws, and their responsibility to us: all this and more is wrapped up in weddings. But one theme seems to transcend cultural specificity: weddings are one of life's great expressions of optimism.
In our Important Summer Auction
on June 13th, we are offering a very fine bridal robe from the Qing dynasty. The robe was passed down by descent through the family of Herbert G. Squiers, who was the secretary to the American Legation in Peking (Beijing) in 1898. True to the Qing style of highly decorative objects, the robe is heavily embroidered with symbols that express all the hope for the future that is wrapped up in the beginning of two people's lives as a married couple. Below, we parse what these symbols are telling us.