Generally speaking, the classification of the Qun Gua (裙褂) very much depends on the density of its gold embroidery; whereby the greater volume it’s, the higher hierarchy/ranking the costumes will be. This system of classification highlights the importance of social status and wealth in traditional Chinese culture, where the display of material possessions was often a symbol of one's family background and social.
In the lineage of gold embroidery Qun Gua (裙褂); there are Gua Huang (褂皇), Gua Hou (褂后), Da Wu Fu (大五福), Zhong Wu Fu (中五福) and Xiao Wu Fu (小五福). Let's explore the unique characteristics and differences among each category:
Gua Huang (褂皇); a.k.a the Emperor
Gua Huang (褂皇); also known as the Emperor, the most exquisite piece in its inheritance. It decorated with 99% of gold embroidery and subtly beaded crystal which takes at least a year to create a piece of Gua Huang - fully hand made. The embroider using finest colour silk thread for embroidery work and decorated with subtly beaded crystals which brings more striking colours compared to the usual traditional. This piece is truly a work of art and also highly valued by collectors, who appreciate its unique beauty and historical significance.
Gua Hou (褂后) also known as the Empress
Gua Hou (褂后) also known as the Empress, is a traditional Chinese wedding garment that has been an iconic symbol of Chinese culture for decades. The composition of the Gua Hou (褂后) is made up of 80% - 90% gold work, which is intricately embroider into the fabric to create a shimmering effect. Every piece of Gua Hou (褂后) is a work of art, and no two are alike. The intricacy of embroidery, design composition, colours and cutting can vary from one type to the next. Whether you're looking for something simple or elaborate we have a piece for everyone!
Da Wu Fu (大五福)
Da Wu Fu (大五福) also known as eternal Qun Gua (裙褂) has an unique balance ratio of gold embroidery and fabric which almost goes for every brides; fully hand made. This traditional Chinese garment carries a symbol of fundamental five blessings which are longevity, health, wealth, virtue and peace (五福临门 Wǔ Fú Lín Mén) in Chinese culture.
Zhong Wu Fu (中五福)/Xiao Wu Fu (小五福)
Zhong Wu Fu (中五福); it's one of the most traditional ones, with centuries of history. This dress carries the least gold work; thus most reveals the vibrant red fabric. Red is the most favoured colour in Chinese wedding as it represents happiness and prosperous in Chinese culture. Though the costumes may not be as ornate as some of the others, they still carry the fundamental five blessings symbolism with their auspicious creatures, dragons and phoenixes in Chinese culture.
Contempory Qun Gua (裙褂)
In ancient Chinese, dragon and phoenix are considered to be the most redolent symbols in Chinese imagery. However, due to certain reasons—religious beliefs or otherwise—some brides are unable to wear Qun Gua (裙褂) with these motifs. Instead, they could opt for butterflies, floral or mandarin duck motifs which carry significant and auspicious blessings for the wedding couple as well.
In conclusion, from the luxurious Gua Huang (褂皇) to the quintessential Xiao Wu Fu (小五福), the beauty and artistry of these dresses are a testament to the traditional Chinese craftmanship and the importance of preserving cultural heritage.