The custom of marriage is an important part of folk culture in a nation. Different nations have different marriage customs and different ethnic marriage constitutes Cultural pattern of diversity in unity of the Chinese nation. In the marriage customs of Zhangjiajie, Marriage culture of Tujia minority, Miao minority, Bai minority is more representative.
In Zhangjiajie culture, the girl who will marry must cry, which means Tujia girl before marriage will cry with her mother, aunt and sisters .And they also will sing at the same the time, as an expression of kinship between family members and parting pain. And it also expressed dissatisfaction with the feudal arranged marriages and indignation.
When the wedding day is agreed, generally they will have cried for ten or fifteen days before marriage. When the night falls, the bride’s close sisters and female relatives sitting in the bride’s boudoir begin to hide their face with a handkerchief and accompany the bride burst into tears to pour out their heart. The scene is really sincere, tearful and touching. The forms of crying are single cry, double cry and all of people cry. Crying language is mostly Chinese now. Some villages of Tujia minority still cry with Tujia language, its tone and charm are particularly wonderful. The content of crying marriage is very various, such as "cry parents", "cry forefathers", "mother cry daughter"," cry matchmaker" and so on.
It is said that they begin to learn crying marriage at the age of eleven. Because the bride's "Crying Song" which is good or bad is an important criterion to evaluate whether she is smart or not, but also is a key to her status in husband's family.
They should have been crying to the day of marriage.On that day, the men who help bridegroom meet the bride will play the Suona and carry the palanquin. And the bride's side will carry a large quadrate table quickly and stand in the doorway. They will ask prearranged “steward sir” and "protocol officer" who help bridegroom meet the bride to sing in antiphonal style. After defeating “steward sir”, protocol officer will surrender "three cans of tea and six gifts" in order to enter the room, which is known as "the gifts of blocking the door". In the room, the men who help bridegroom meet the bride will be blackened by a group dressed girls with soot. Those men certainly do not show weakness, so they also use this strange way to play tricks on girls. Finally, the bride stops crying, and wear bridal veil to sit in the sedan. Listening to festive music, she gently closes her eyes and tries to get a rest. Because she knows the days that they can disturb the bridal chamber will last three days and three nights, regardless of manners. Tujia girl is going to be married, her sisters will go to her home to comfort her, because they live in a long time together, but now they must leave, and find it really difficult to tear apart. They will sit together and talk about the sisters' whisper. While on the eve of the parting, they will drink a mouthful of sweet wine to express sisters’ affection. The girl who married must pour a cup of wine to sisters, and her sisters must accept her kindness in one gulp. And then her sisters will drink a toast in return, but the bride will be not necessary to drink all as long as she is sincere. Otherwise, the bride will become drunken girl. The customs of drinking Sister Wine is to express Tujia sisters’ simple and sincere friendship and deep feelings for each other.
The marriage of Miao minority is strange and humorous, and it is full of romance. Young men and women mostly make use of festive holidays or going to the fair to be acquainted with each other or select their spouse, which is known as "meet girls". If a Miao boy likes a girl, he will express his love by begging for candies, wild onions or handkerchiefs. But the girl will not easily give her things to him, and they must deepen mutual understanding and feelings by appointment and talk, then they get fall in love and exchange a token of love. After this, they finally ushered in the day of marriage after many marriage customs procedures. The day before the wedding, the bridegroom must arrange a team that is composed of the men who help bridegroom meet the bride and the guys who pick dowries to send "wedding wine", lamps, torches, meat and rice to the bride. That night, the bride’s families will invite their relatives and friends to the home and drink and sing together with the bridegroom’s guests all through the night. When the auspicious moment is coming, the bride will leave their home in the sound of firecrackers and follow the team that meets the bride, beating gongs and drums, marry into the man’s home.
The bride, who first enters the bridegroom’s home, must step from a new bamboo sieve to sift the dust and evil. At this time, the bridegroom’s will burn fire in the brazier. Raging flame symbolizes days of the new couple will be booming and auspicious.
According to the marriage of Han minority, then the bride and bridegroom should perform the formal wedding ceremony, but Miao minority is not like that. After entering the house, the bride and bridegroom must sit on the chair which be put in the middle of the room, and be unable to move, otherwise, it means that the bride's life after marriage will be not stable. Under the arrangement of officiator, the bride and bridegroom will drink "concentric wine" and eat "concentric meat". The officiator's song is the most beautiful blessing to the bride and bridegroom. He hopes that they will live together until old age.
The bridegroom's brothers and the bride’s sisters will all come to sponge drinks. They speak words of blessing, singing auspicious songs and drinking festive wine, use their eyes to look for their loved ones and look forward to the marriage day of the bride and bridegroom is their tomorrow.
If a family has a happy event, the whole village will celebrate together. The wedding night is sleepless night to the Miao village. All the folks of this village will come to the bridegroom's family to celebrate. The villagers warmly toast to the bride’s family and sing in antiphonal style. In the climax, girls will blacken guests with soot and guests will also “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. At that moment, everyone becomes the black face in the sound of laughter, which is a great wonders of the custom of marriage of Miao minority—"Send". It is said that if you are blacken with much soot, you will be more auspicious. That evening, the bride and bridegroom can not sleep together. They must entertain guests and friends.
There are three forms of marriage in Bai minority: one is to marry their daughter to the groom, this form is in the majority; two is that the groom is adopted into the bride's family, because the woman's parents mainly have no son, even if they have sons, he or she is also the oafs and the sick. So they want to adopt a groom into their family. Three is that men and women marry after seven days, his wife will take her husband with curtains, bedding back to her home to live. Although the woman's home has brothers, but they are too young, and parents are old, so they use this form to support the elderly and young sister.
The marriage of Bai minority is very grand. According to the traditional custom, on the wedding day, the groom and his friends must ride tall and strong horse to meet the bride. The bride and groom must accompany guests to have dinner after the bride come back home, and the guests can present puzzles to the newlyweds and also can let them perform shows. The most distinctive program is burning pepper at the wedding. So many people will sneeze and cough in the laughter, which bustles with noise and excitement.
Sons usually separate from their parents and organize another family after the marriage. Parents can choose the son who they want to live with by themselves. Generally they will choose the youngest son to live together. Therefore, monogamous family is the common form of family organization. According to the customs of Bai minority, if the husband died, his wife can be a lifelong widowhood, and also can be married to another, but if she wants to marry another, she cannot take away former husband’s possessions. In some areas, after the death of elder brother, the sister-in-law can marry his youngercbrother, but this phenomenon has not much to see.
In general, the marriage variety in Zhangjiajie culture is very colorful, and each minority has its own characteristics. This causes the diversity of the culture in Zhangjiajie, but also provides valuable cultural resources for tourism development. To a certain extent, these cultural resources can satisfy the tourists’ different psychological needs of seeking happiness and diversity. The custom of marriage is one of the key developments of ethnic cultural resources of tourism in Zhangjiajie and it can not be ignored. Different ethnic customs and culture show broad and profound culture of Zhangjiajie. We must firmly inherit the culture, and protect the diversity of culture.