Click on picture to enlarge.

The Korean wedding ducks / wedding geese

An Old Wedding Tradition

Site of the exhibit: large showcase in the Korea department's 1st room

All over the world a wedding ist a great festivity and each country has its own habits in celebrating the great day in a couple's life.

In modern Korea marriages are often western-style but there are still weddings held in the traditional style with its complex ceremonies and rites.

At the old-style Korean wedding ceremony the wedding duck or wedding goose (kireogi) is of great importance, symbolizing peace, prosperity, many children and harmony in the couple's life.

The many-coloured Mandarin ducks, said to stay together for a season and the life-long partnership of geese are their biological models. 

In carving such a duck or goose often handed down from mother to daughter many things had to be taken into consideration. The wood carver had to be a good friend of the family with irreproachable conduct. His personality and not his carving skills were decisive because his mind influenced the symbol in carving and was thus transmitted to the young couple who were just about to set up home on their own.

The ducks, stout and with a short neck, or geese with a longer neck, are carved as a couple; the male animal has a broader beak as you can see with the pair of geese at the Museum.

For the wedding ceremony the animals are wrapped in red respective blue silk cloth showing only their heads and necks. At the beginning of the wedding ceremony the bridegroom gives a duck or goose to his prospective mother-in-law. In former times it was the custom to present live wild ducks or geese.

The two wooden symbols of marital bliss are arranged in the couple's new home. In a harmonious relationship the heads of the ducks are facing each other. In tempestuous times one or both of the spouses turn their duck in the opposite direction.

Our Museum wedding geese both sit placidly on the wedding chest containing the bridal gifts.