In Chinese culture, the Kua or Qun Kua (群褂) is the traditional wedding dress worn by the bride when she returns to her parents’ home. After she is being “fetched” to the groom’s home and have completed the customs needed there, she goes back to her own parents’ home ((回娘家) in the Kua for the tea ceremony involving her family and relatives. Therefore, it is also the attire she dons on when she serves tea to her family.
The Kua consists of a top jacket and a bottom skirt that is embroidered most commonly with dragons and phoenixes and sometimes with mandarin ducks, bats, lotuses and pomegranates – all of which carry their own significance in Chinese culture such as harmony, fidelity, good fortune, purity and fertility.
Traditional Kuas have a boxy silhouette which can be more comfortable for brides to wear. Today, some Kuas have taken on a more figure-fitting form to fit the taste of modern brides.
In countries such as Hong Kong and China, much emphasis is placed on the making of the bride’s Kua. Each piece is prized (and priced) highly as it involves skilled craftmanship. The process of handmaking a Kua can take a year or more! The Kua can be categorized into a few types with varying level of intricacy, complexity and correspondingly, the weight!
King Kua & Queen Kua
Use of gold and silver thread in high density creates more elaborate motifs; can appear more gold and silver than red. The King Kua is almost fully embroidered which can make it feel much heavier.
Lesser density and less elaborate motif; can be hand-sewn or machine sewn and is the lightest in weight.
Locally, most brides may opt to wear a Kua because it is something they get to wear only once in their lifetime. In recent years, modern versions have emerged and have become “trendy” as a result. Most bridal boutiques provide Kuas for rental but if you’re looking for something more traditional and a more extensive collection, here are some places that specialize in wedding kua rental in Singapore. You may even choose to purchase them!
If you’re wondering what the groom wears to match with the bride’s Kua, they can choose to go with a matching Ma Kua (马褂), a Mandarin Collar suit, or simply keep to their day suit!
Feature image – Photo from Canva Pro