Ross School - Senior Projects 2011


Student: Xiaoyang (Amanda) Gong

Mentor: Jennifer Cross

Domain(s): Visual Art, Cultural History




Title: The Ancient Chinese Wedding

Description: A construction of 4 dioramas, and a written brochure describing historical background of the wedding ceremony, its rituals, and symbols.





Images (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)






The theme of my senior project is the Ancient Chinese Wedding ceremony. My product is a construction of 4 dioramas, and a written brochure describing historical background of the wedding ceremony, its rituals, and symbols. My first idea for senior project was to do something about study abroad. But I didnÕt feel I had a real topic to make a project about. I changed my mind when I went back to China last summer, I learnt many people today want to get married using wedding ceremony from the past. I thought that would be an interesting topic to study, and I could express the ceremony through a series of dioramas.

        The goals of my project were to reÕsearch the history of the ancient Chinese wedding, to create something that would engage my audience and to promote cultural understanding by sharing Chinese culture with the Ross community. The picture you see on the screen is the cover of my brochure, and the word ŌĶ, is the combined symmetric character as symbol of happiness, especially marriage.

        I got the idea for diorama because I did cafŽ society for my modernity project, which was a diorama also. For it, I reconstructed two paintings of cafŽ society by Degas and Manet.

        I began to do research. I used both English and Chinese websites, and I made notes in my process folio.

        Tang Dynasty lasted from 618-907. In ChinaÔs long history, the Tang Dynasty was a period when the polity and economy were highly developed and culture and art were thriving. It spread its tremendous culture and absorbed the cultures of other countries. The High Tang promoted trade and successful cultural exchanges with Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Persia and other countries. Women who lived in this period were open-minded and had more freedom than women in other periods. Besides that, their graceful and elegant dress and exquisite personal adornments are famous.

        To make my dioramas, I first decided how many boxes I need, what kind of setting and props I would do, and how many figures.

        Then I made the design of the box, instead of a square the sides were more open so people could see it better. I drew up the design and did the measurements, and a friend of Ms. Cross constructed them from plywood.

        I used many different materials to make props. For example, this is the carriage, and it is made from balsa wood. It is good to use because I can cut it with scissors and glue it. I painted the background for the second scene, but I really didnÕt like the way it looked at first. After discussing it with my mentor, we decided it would be better to paint the sky and ground directly on the diorama, and paste the houses in separately. I made the road narrower in the background to help show prospective.

        For My figurines, I used wire, and something called rigid wrap which is cloth with plaster that I wet and wrap it around wire. I used model magic to make the heads, this is the self drying material. I used sculpey to construct the furniture. This is the clay-like material that needs to be baked in the oven. I also needed materials to make the costumes.

The first scene of the dioramas: the bride is preparing for the wedding in her room

I made the folding screen, and I chose the flower peony because it is considered the national flower in China.

        The second scene shows the journey from brideÕs house to the groomÕs. On the morning of the wedding day, the groom will march to the brideÕs house with a group of man and a carriage, in which the bride will ride to her husbandÕs house. Although the carriage has windows on two sides, it is heavily curtained to prevent the bride from seeing anything unlucky. A well-decorated carriage also shows the familyÕs wealth and social status. For this particular scene, I also purchased some objects like the horse and trees.

        As soon as the newlyweds enter the hall, they stand in front of the family alter and kneel three times. First, they kneel to heaven and the earth. Second, they kneel to the ancestral tablets and the groomÕs parents. The newlyweds serve tea, with two lotus seeds or two red dates in the cup, which symbolize fertility, to the groomÕs parents to show respect and appreciation. At last, they kneel to each other. After kneeling three times, the newlyweds are conducted into the bridal chamber.

        When the bride is married to her husband, it means she is also married to his family, the bride is relatively detached from her own family, and it becomes her moral obligation to look after her parents-in-law.

        The forth scene shows the bridal chamber and there are lotus seeds on the bridal bed. Lotus seeds have an auspicious meaning, which is continuous birth of children. The couple with arms interlocked will drink the wine from two goblets, which are tied together by a red string.

        Another part of the project was to make a brochure that contains historical information and pictures. Here are two pages of my brochure.

My challenges

I had a hard time making the figures. At first, I tried to make figurines by using sculpey, but they didnÕt come out as good as I expected. So I took Ms. CrossÕs advice, using wire and rigid cloth. And it worked very well. 

         Making costumes was also a challenge for me because I had no experience of sewing before, and the figurines were all tiny. Ms. Cross and Ms. Takeda both helped me trying different ways to do it, and during my Christmas vacation, my aunt, who has sewing experience, helped me making costumes. That was my first time touching an electronic sewing machine, and I almost stitched my fingers.

         Also, it was hard to find sources in English. So Ms. Takeda suggested me to find sources in Chinese also, and translate them. Mrs. Parks sent me some useful sources in English.

        Like many other seniors, time management was a big challenge for me. Actually, I didnÕt get the preliminary approval to present. I realized that it was time to catch up, other wise, I wouldnÕt finish my project on time. I worked much hard every afternoon and weekends by following the contract I made with Ms. Cross, and I think the contract helped me a lot to finish my project.

Discoveries and Skills acquired

        Through my research, I learnt many historical cultural facts about my own culture and traditions.

        I also tried many new art materials and methods I never used before.


Through the process of making Brochure, I learned to edit a great deal of information and put it into a clear format. I also

        I also found that People are interested to learn my culture, and I think IÕve accomplished my goal


Through the process of my senior project, I was able to spend a large portion of time working carefully on one topic and becoming an expert. By developing the skill to concentrate and manage my time, I will surely be able to adapt to college life better.

Also, in the future, I would like to study psychology. I would also like to explore different cultures. By understanding how cultures influence people, I feel I can help people who are experiencing challenges with cultural differences. Lastly, I hope to work someday in a cross cultural field that helps to bring different cultures together.



Works Consulted


"Chinese Charms -- Hidden Meaning of Symbols." Ancient Chinese Charms and Coins. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


" Asian Culture - Chinese Wedding Customs." Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Red: ChinaÕs Color of Fire and Celebration." Weird News from All over Asia. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


Seabastian, By. "Chinese Bridal Customs." HubPages. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Peonies of China 2004 HOME." Pacific Rim Native Plant Nursery Home Page. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.

< 04.htm>.

"Chinese Wedding Customs, Betrothal Gift, Deliver Dowry, Decorations." China Holidays, China Tours, China Travel Agency, Yangtze River Cruise. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Chinese Wedding Traditions." Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Chinese Wedding Customs, Betrothal Gift, Deliver Dowry, Decorations." China Holidays, China Tours, China Travel Agency, Yangtze River Cruise. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Tang Dynasty Mirror - Chinese Astronomy History." China. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Ancient Chinese Wedding Traditions - Chinese Wedding Customs - Chinese Wedding Planning Ideas." Chinese Weddings ‰€Ō Chinese Wedding Planning ‰€Ō Chinese Wedding Ideas. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Chinese Wedding Traditions." Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


"Chinese Wedding Traditions." Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.


魏风华. 唐朝的婚礼. 05 12 2009. 2010




moondaj. 难得一见的唐朝婚礼. 20 January 2010.




Outside Consultant

Mami Takeda

Ross School ESL Teacher