- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
58

(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
58
within our neighbourhood. The Khevsur bride
groom comes fully armed with his men-friends
by night to the "women’s house" before the village,
where the girl is waiting by arrangement. She has
to show her good bringing up by making a strong
resistance, 1 but he takes her away to his father’s
house. After various formalities, whose meaning
would seem to be that they must not show too much
eagerness towards one another, at the end of five
or six days they are married. They are now together
for three nights, but then she goes back again to
her parents for a time before regular married life
begins. If the man is not pleased with his wife, he
can send her back to her parents, and she can
marry again. She also can leave him, but then she
has to buy her freedom, and the amount is so high
that in most cases she cannot manage it. Unfaithful
wives formerly used to have their cheeks slit, or the
nose and ears cut off; but wc are not told what was
done to faithless husbands. In former times polygyny
was general, but it is said to be rare now.
A curious belief is that a woman with child is
unclean, and when bringing forth she must stay
alone in a hut outside the village, or anyhow
outside the house. If the birth-throes are difficult,
the only help she gets from the attentive husband is
that he goes stealthily, usually by night, near the
hut, and fires off his gun to frighten the evil spirits
away. After the birth coarse food is brought her by
small girls ; but like the mother the vessels she
1 Among primitive peoples also, like the Eskimos, wc find the same
custom, and the same view of good breeding in the woman.

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