• top frame 
  • Photograph of a pair of wood-carved, painted ducks.
  • Magnifying Glass

Mated for Life
Before a young girl in Korea was old enough to wed, her parents would ask a man who had a happy marriage and many sons to carve for her a pair of mated ducks. The ducks symbolized fidelity, unity despite difference, love and fertility, and embodied the wishes the parents held for their daughter's future marriage.
Courtesy of Bill Helmer


In Korea, marriage was viewed as an important duty. Confucian beliefs imported from China coupled with indigenous ideas about familial respect gave marriage its profound importance. Marriage, with its promise of a continuing family line, was a highly honoured institution.