- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
24

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
24
great a part in the whole life of the Caucasian
mountain peoples, it was natural that this art of
ornamentation should be particularly applied to
weapons of all kinds, from kindjals and the smaller
daggers up to muskets and pistols, powder-horns,
shot-bags, and so forth. There were especially
certain valleys and villages well known for their
beautiful and well-made weapons. The craft seems
now to have lost ground, but is still carried on.
Through the streets go the water-sellers ; they
call their precious fluid, which is carried in great
leather bags on donkey- or horse-back; sometimes
they carry it themselves. Water is an important
article of trade in these towns, and particularly
esteemed in the hot, dry summer, when there is not
much of it. Boys with donkeys, heavily loaded with
baskets of vegetables and fruit, also offer their
wares.
What perhaps most strikes a stranger is the quiet
seriousness which wraps all these people, in spite
of the trading and bargaining, and the little show
there is of any kind ofjoy in life; you hardly ever
hear a refreshing laugh. Even the women here
looked staid and serious, whether in the modem
Russian quarter of the town or in the old Oriental
quarter, where there are not so many of them to be
seen now. In our part of the world, indeed, women
are not wont to be so sparing of their voices. It is
as though everywhere the music were played with
mutes. Perhaps it is wc European upstarts that do
not know what dignity and good-breeding mean.
It reminds me of what a Chinese diplomat once

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