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Adult Ceremony in Ancient China


In ancient China, adult ceremony is the essential ritual to for show a child has grown up. It dates back to the Zhou Dynasty, enjoying a history of over 2000 years. The purpose of the ceremony was to put the ceremony receiver under various tribulations, and finally took them into the society of adults. According to Book of Rites records, Male shall receive a capping ceremony at 20, while female a hairpin ceremony at 15. Both were hosted by the elderly of the same family clan for the youngsters according to the tradition.

Capping Ceremony

The ceremony for men was called capping ceremony, meaning doing a hair in a bun or coil and wearing a cap. Usually it was held in February in an ancestral temple and the date was chosen by the person to be capped by divination. Three days before the ceremony, an honored guest would be selected to perform the rite. And during the ceremony, the participants- the host (in most cases, the father of the person to be capped), the honored guest and the person to be capped were required to wear ceremonial attires. The receiver was first capped with an inner cap, then a cap, followed by a scarf. After these three steps, his hair was combed into a bun, suggesting the beginning of adulthood.

Traditionally, after the rites, the honored guest would deliver a congratulatory speech to the capped person. The general idea of the speech is followed: from now on, you are granted adult attire. It is time for you to stop behaving like a child and to act as an adult. Keep in mind to maintain dignity and achieve moral excellence. Wish you a long life and a successful career. Then the capped person would perform a formal bow to his mother. Finally, a new name would be given by the honored guest. The whole ceremony was over.


Hair-pinning Ceremony

The ceremony for women was called the hair-pinning ceremony, which means gathering hair into a knot and using a hairpin to hold it. It was held after a woman’s engagement and before her wedding, when the woman turned 20 at the latest. The procedures were almost the same as those of a capping ceremony, with slight differences. For instance, the participants were almost women, and the venue of the ceremony was usually inside a main room or an inner chamber.


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