Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chinese Men and their Neckties

Don't they all look absolutely happy? (photo by Steve Ling)This is the Civil Marriage Ceremony of a young couple from Sibu. The two well known Sibu gentlemen in neckties are the witnesses.

A Sibu relative told me once that the only time he ever wore a tie was on his wedding day. And it had made him feel "unnatural". And he predicted rather humourously that the second time he wears a necktie it would be when he is ready to meet God. As a simple person and a frugal Foochow man he has been living in very strict and upright ways. Yes indeed he kept his word about not wearing a tie.

His remark really stays in my mind. In my own career I have worked with men who wear neckties every day. In fact many of them spend a fortune buying the best ties! Some even match their ties with their socks!

A humourous Foochow business man once joked about wearing neckties. "Wear necktie got high blood pressure. No necktie - no high blood pressure."

And yet another one said a long long time ago when we were in secondary school that wearing a necktie showed that a person had been to school. But he also said that having no proper leather shoes he looked "funny" wearing a necktie. How could he be smart then? I believe eventually he became very rich and could buy many leather (Bally or Gucci) shoes to go with his wearing of neckties. I hope he is reading this posting today.

But many have come to realise today many doctors and professional men wear sports shoes too when they sport a necktie. It is ok today and it was ok then!

And today reading Tony Hii's blog I chance upon Meng Lei and his friend wearing neckties for the registration of a marriage. And a pink one too!! The wearing of neckties gave the occasion a air of importance and formal celebration. It is a mark of respect for the people who gathered together.

Hence my posting today on neckties. There are so many angles I can write from. But I choose to use old photos to elaborate my thoughts.

A very smart looking Tan Sri Dr. Wong Soon Kai sporting a necktie. Neckties give men a serious and official look. A mark of position.

As a soldier Chiang Kai Shek seldom wore neckties. He wore one for his wedding. A very rare occasion indeed. But he wore a necktie because his bride was very westernised!!

My father as an undergraduate in Beijing 1936.

Sun Yat Sen looked fantastic in this outfit with a good necktie(1907). He later designed the Sun Yat Sen coat which became very popular amongst students and social leaders. Mao Tze Dung modified it to make it an icon for the Communists. The necktie was not worn in China until the early 80's - a period of almost 40 years!

Men all over the world had looked at what each other wore and remained as near to the powers that be in the past. Hence we can actually see that throughout history London and Paris have always been leaders of men's fashion.

And furthermore if we dig deeper into history we can see that the necktie looked different centuries ago. Take a look below:

James Brooke and his tie (1842)

In 1667 An English king wearing a "tie". I do not think any of our Foochow ancestors wore a tie like that! In 1667 the fort built by the Dutch in Formosa (Taiwan) was taken back by the Manchu navy and in 1669 the Dutch East India Company landed in Foochow City. While the Foochows continued to wear their pigtails and the manchu long gowns perhaps some came to see some Dutch apparels.

On second thoughts I don't think any of our Foochow ancestors wore Dutch influenced apparel like this. Your guess is as good as mine perhaps.

The necktie I am sure will continue to be meaningful and very significant in our lives for a long long time to come.

I hope you have as much joy reminiscing as I have writing!


8 memories:

Helena said...

A most unusual link to all those Chinese men wearing neckties!

My favourite necktie is the thin ones worn in the 60's by singers like P.Ramlee and the Beatles. These dark slim line neckties have a special flavour. The fat ones which came later seem to be all wrong.

sarawakiana said...

I like to see men wearing very powerful neckties. In this way they can create a presence and a special style for their image.

One of my best memories is of my father and grandfather wearing neckties and being photographed together.

thanks for your comments.

Just a Little Kindness said...

Yes! I think it is good idea if you write about how to register a marriage for Chinese (Foochow) and Kayan in Miri Like this story. Step by step.

You know of any office of
foochow Penghulu or someone like that in Miri?

May be some Foochows can help here?

sarawakiana said...

Dear Try a Little Kindness

I have to ask around about registering a Foochow - Kayan Marriage in Miri by a Foochow Community Leader. I am familiar with church marriages.

May be some of the readers can help here.

In Sibu an uncle the late Penghulu Chang Chung Ching was given the license to officiate civil marriages. That's quite sometime ago. I remember his shop Wen Hua Bookstore was always full of happy couples and happy in laws!!

A marriage certificate has now become such a significant legal document. In the 40's most marriages were common law and one or two tables at Hock Chu Leu sealed the union!!

Just a Little Kindness said...

Many of my friends register in their home towns but sometimes it is good to know what others are doing and how they go about...

My sister was married in the Catholic Church and the priest prepared everything. Never heard of civil marriage.

yvonne said...

Hi I am back and have time to read your blog!
Do you have photos of the 1950's women's fashions in Miri/Sibu?
I kinda like the history you provide. thanks .

sarawakiana said...

So far I have not been able to get anything about Foochow marriage registration in miri.

Sorry! I only know about Methodist church marriage registration.

sarawakiana said...

I will feature some photos of the 50's and 60's later.

Thanks for visiting and your interest.


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