- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
54

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - III. The mountain peoples near the military road

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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
54
amidst feuds, whether between families or between
villages, or with the tribes arotmd them. They are
quarrelsome fellows, and always go arrned when
working out of doors too, usually with shield, sword,
dagger, and musket.
A curious custom is that the men wear on the
right thumb a thick iron ring with heavy spikes on
it; it is used for giving blows in a fight, and there
is hardly any older man without unsightly scars
due to this cause, and in this hideous disfigurement
ofthe face they often surpass even the most damaged
German student. The same kind of ring is said to
have been in use in the Black Forest and in Upper
Bavaria.
Quarrels often arise, and the dagger sits loose;
but wounding and maiming have to be atoned for
by a scale of fines. The loss of an eye has to be
paid for with thirty cows, a wounded head with
three to sixteen cows, a maimed leg with twenty-five,
and so on. A cow is looked on as equal to ten
roubles. The length of a wound is measured with a
thread, and on this barley or wheat grains are
laid alternately in their length and breadth, and
two-thirds of the number needed to cover the thread
must be paid by the culprit in cows.
Among the Khevsurs and the Pshavs, as among
most of the Caucasian tribes, blood revenge, of
course, is a firmly established custom. Murder must
be avenged by the murdered man’s kindred,
through the death of the culprit, or his kindred, or
even people from his village ; so that a murder may
bring two villages into bloody strife. But the murder

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