Rainbow Chan  

Identifies as: Australian Hong Kong-Chinese 
Language/Language group: English and Cantonese
Website: www.chunyinrainbowchan.com
Instagram handle: @chunyinrainbowchan 

哭嫁 or “Bridal laments” refer to a female custom that was performed by the 圍頭 (Weitou) people, the first settlers of Hong Kong. As marriages were arranged, becoming a bride signified a kind of death for a woman. Not only would her ties to her natal home be severed, but she would remain an outsider to the groom’s family.

To mourn this profound sense of loss, Weitou women would perform a bridal lament cycle before their wedding day, a ritual which involved singing and weeping in front of family and friends over the course of three days. Since this tradition ended in the 1960s, the last group of women to embody this knowledge are in their 80s or 90s today.

I have Weitou ancestry through my mother who never learnt the laments. To learn more about this ritual, I’ve been working with elderly Weitou women in the Caritas Lung Yeuk Tau Community Development Project over the last few years. As I have not been able to travel back to Hong Kong this year, I’ve had to continue my learning via digital platforms and virtual communications.

For 52 ACTIONS, I reimagine a bridal lament through a contemporary lens. I have learnt this melody by repeatedly listening to a CD recording performed by Weitou elder, 文鳳琼婆婆, Man Fung Kun. I realise now that this was, in fact, how I first started making music. My favourite pastime as a kid was working out how to play Top40 pop songs on the piano completely by ear. Titled “魚文,鳥文Fish Song, Bird Song” this action is a personal exploration of distance, memory, and matrilineal knowledge which is on the brink of disappearance. 

Artist bio


Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is an interdisciplinary artist working across music, image, video and sculpture with an interest in the intimate connections between representation, technology and myths in the globalised world. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Sydney, Australia, Chan lives and works on Gadigal land, Sydney. Coming from a background in pop music performance, her art practice often engages with the aesthetics of mass media through music videos, movie posters, fashion shoots and other mediums. But, she also troubles aspects of consumer culture through mistranslations, historical reimaginings and technological interventions in her works, which are inspired by bootlegs and knock-off culture. 



哭 – huk1 / kū
To weep; to cry, to wail.



魚文,鳥文” (Fish Song, Bird Song) is performed by 文鳳琼婆婆, Man Fung Kun, aged 84. Audio recording and photographs courtesy of Caritas Lung Yeuk Tau Community Development Project, funded by the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust. @bridal_laments


Directed by Chan Kwok Ming and Ng Lok Chi, Jeanne
“Yesterday Once More” is produced by Caritas Lung Yeuk Tau Community Development Project, funded by the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust.


Catfish, flat-headed, in an unfamiliar place.⠀
Eel, without scales, like you I am bare.⠀
While Crucian Carp swam breezily in clear waters,⠀
Pond Loach slithers in dark clouds now.⠀


Translation by Rainbow Chan, adapted from “A Glimpse through Ming-Wa-Kou: The Bridal Laments of the Last Walled-Village Brides.”⠀


Cherished is Rice Bird who tells fortunes,
Glorious is Grouse, your feathers so splendid.
Lonely is Francolin who sighs bitterly,
Sorrowful is Huamei, chirping in the dead of the night.



I do not possess the wisdom of Confucius,
A broken nest, I am swept away.
Oh! This new world, I am yet to know,
A princess married off to barbarians, I am lost.




“魚文,鳥文 Fish Song, Bird Song” paints a picture of sadness as the bride mourns the death of her former self. Sung in the Weitou dialect, this lament is layered with allusions and wordplay. The bride’s feelings are vividly symbolised by the characteristics of native fish and birds. Joyous memories of her natal home are contrasted with her new life in the groom’s home, which is likened to turbid waters. My favourite line is when the bride compares herself to Eel, who is all alone and stripped of its “scales” (which is a homophone of “neighbours” in the Weitou dialect.) In a society where women had little to no rights, bridal laments afforded a rare opportunity for village women to express their grievances publicly.

Graphics, video and music by Rainbow Chan. 3D model by Craig Stubbs-Race 

WARNING: This video contents strobing lights


嫁 – gaa3 / jià
(Of a woman) to be married off; to transfer; to shift.


Past Actions

07 Jun - 13 Jun 2021

Unbound Collective

31 May - 06 Jun 2021

OLC Art Collective

24 May - 30 May 2021

Naomi Hobson

17 May - 23 May 2021

Adrft Lab

10 May - 16 May 2021

Pat Brassington

03 May - 09 May 2021

Eddie Abd

26 Apr - 02 May 2021

Loren Kronemyer

19 Apr - 25 Apr 2021

Guo Jian

12 Apr - 18 Apr 2021

Kenny Pittock

05 Apr - 11 Apr 2021

Jannawi Dance Clan

29 Mar - 04 Apr 2021

Gillian Kayrooz

22 Mar - 28 Mar 2021

Nathan Beard

15 Mar - 21 Mar 2021

Pilar Mata Dupont

08 Mar - 14 Mar 2021

Michael Cook

01 Mar - 07 Mar 2021

Seini F Taumoepeau

22 Feb - 28 Feb 2021

Dani Marti

15 Feb - 21 Feb 2021

Lill Colgan & Sab D'Souza

08 Feb - 14 Feb 2021

Chris Yee

01 Feb - 07 Feb 2021

Rochelle Haley

25 Jan - 31 Jan 2021

Karrabing Film Collective

18 Jan - 24 Jan 2021

Nici Cumpston

11 Jan - 17 Jan 2021

Johnathon World Peace Bush

07 Dec - 13 Dec 2020


30 Nov - 06 Dec 2020

Raquel Ormella

23 Nov - 29 Nov 2020

Léuli Eshrāghi

16 Nov - 22 Nov 2020

Rolande Souliere

09 Nov - 15 Nov 2020

TV Moore

02 Nov - 08 Nov 2020

Gutiŋarra Yunupiŋu

26 Oct - 01 Nov 2020

Ivey Wawn

19 Oct - 25 Oct 2020

Naomi Blacklock

12 Oct - 18 Oct 2020

Sancintya Mohini Simpson

05 Oct - 11 Oct 2020

Yhonnie Scarce

28 Sep - 04 Oct 2020

Ruha Fifita

21 Sep - 27 Sep 2020

Kaylene Whiskey

14 Sep - 20 Sep 2020

Adam Linder

07 Sep - 13 Sep 2020

Archie Barry

31 Aug - 06 Sep 2020

Min Wong

24 Aug - 30 Aug 2020

Hayley Millar-Baker

17 Aug - 23 Aug 2020

Erin Coates

10 Aug - 16 Aug 2020

Diego Bonetto

03 Aug - 09 Aug 2020

Tyza Hart

27 Jul - 02 Aug 2020

Larissa Hjorth

20 Jul - 26 Jul 2020

Louise Zhang

13 Jul - 19 Jul 2020

Henri Papin (Meijers & Walsh)

06 Jul - 12 Jul 2020


29 Jun - 05 Jul 2020

Rainbow Chan

22 Jun - 28 Jun 2020

Jason Phu

15 Jun - 21 Jun 2020

Abdul Abdullah

08 Jun - 14 Jun 2020

Patricia Piccinini

01 Jun - 07 Jun 2020

Brook Andrew

25 May - 31 May 2020


18 May - 24 May 2020

James Tylor