More than 300 marriage certificates exhibited at the third Shenzhen International Wedding Expo enthralled many visitors to the expo over the weekend.
The certificates were selected from more than 1,000 collected by Chen Shizhong, a retired official who worked for the Yong-chun County Culture Museum in Fujian Province, over a period of some 10 years.
Various marriage certificates (Guangzhou Daily)
The oldest marriage certificate collected by Chen dates back to the era of Emperor Qianlong (1735-1795) in the Qing Dynasty. The smallest certificate is only about 10 centimeters long while the biggest is about 1.4 meters in length. "The marriage certificates before the founding of New China (in 1949) didn't have a regular size because they were not official," Chen said.
Ancient marriage agreements, or contracts, were usually written on red paper or red cloth painted or embroidered with animals including dragons, phoenixes, magpies and mandarin ducks, Chen said. Some wealthy families even used brocade to make the certificates.
The marriage certificates were on display at Hall 8 of the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center before being moved to Coastal City Shopping Center in Nanshan District, a subvenue of the wedding expo, which was held from Friday to Sunday.
"We invited Chen to showcase the marriage certificates he collected just to allow Shenzhen residents to better understand China's marriage culture and to help create a marriage culture unique to Shenzhen," said Lin Hui, executive vice chief of the Shenzhen General Chamber of Commerce, one of the sponsors of the expo.
This year's expo was three times bigger than last year, Lin said. The floor area for this year's expo was increased to nearly 10,000 square meters from about 3,000 square meters last year when it was held at the Landscape & Floral Expo Park. A subvenue in Nanshan District was set up for the first time.
The expo, which featured the many different chains involved in wedding celebrations, was aimed at showing Shenzhen's strength and standards in this sector, said the event organizers. (Eunice Kang)