Influenced by the Islamism, Dongxiang ethnic minorityhave the most striking male-female gender hierarchy among all Muslim peoples in northwest China. According to their marriage rituals, Marriage is always decided by parents and the young Muslim Nationalities people are not allowed to meet before wedding.
It is the boy’s parents who invite a matchmaker to the girl’s family to propose a marriage with presents, including refined tea and pieces of clothes. Then they will choose an auspicious day to present betrothal gifts. There are usually two kinds, one is composed of tealeaves, brown sugar, cakes, etc, and the other includes clothes, cash, earrings, bracelets, etc. In some mountainous areas, there is the practice of sending steamed buns as betrothal gifts which indicates a good harvest next year for the new couple.
On the wedding day, when the groom arrives at the bride’s house with his relatives and friends, the bride’s family should prepare banquet to entertain them, and both sides also have to discuss and bargain the bride’s price which is finally determined by the imam. After the banquet, the groom should send a wooden comb to the bride’s room to thank her friends for helping her dressing up. Then he also need to go to the kitchen to steal a kind of kitchen ware, and the cooks or their relatives in the kitchen will take the opportunity to wipe ashes to his face.
There is an interesting tradition, named “making fun of the father-in-law” at the ceremony. At the climax of the wedding, guests begin to wipe pan ashes to the faces of groom’s father or uncles, dress them in sheep-fur-lined coats with inside out, tie small bells to their waists, put ragged hats on their heads, and even symbolically tie up their hands and feet. I do not know why they would like to do this, but I guess it may be also a way of expressing best wishes and blessings. Such trick also happens after the groom and bride bow to Heaven and Earth on the wedding day of Bonan ethnic minority, but it is the young men who plaster the black ash to the faces of bride’s family. It is also interesting and funny.
Dongxiang has a special way of teasing the bride and groom. When the veiled bride sits on the kang (a heatable brick bed), some young people smash pillows prepared in advance towards her. At this time, the friends of the bride try to protect her by catching the them and smashing pillows towards the opposite sides. It is very funny and exciting. Later, the friends of the bride rather the groom will pull away the veil of the bride to show her appearance to all the people.