- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /

(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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The Ossetes have an enviably practical way of
getting their rights. When a man cannot get what
he is entitled to from another, or cannot get a wrong
righted, he threatens to kili a dog or a eat on the
grave of the other man’s forefathers, whose souls in
the other world are then threatened with the shame
of being tormented by these beasts. The thought of
this no Ossete can bear, and the matter is at once
settled. When an Ossete takes an oath he holds a
dog by the tail, or an ass by the ear ; then if he
swears falsely the souls of his forefathers or kinsmen
will have to eat the same kind of beasts in the world
beyond. The same conceptions are also found among
the Khevsurs, and most probably are connected
with an old worship of forefathers.
The Ossete villages up here in the mountains are
not big—from twenty or thirty houses down to
five or six, lying on terraces up the steep mountain
sides. Higher up the houses may lic scattered, each
by itself, but then they are like fortified strongholds.
The houses in the mountain valleys are of stone, like
those of the Khevsurs ; lower down they are also
built of wood with bond-work like the Norwegian
wooden house. There are always high towers for
defence in the villages, and in many places one for
every house. These quarrelsome people have to be
always ready to defend themselves. It is significant,
too, that among them theft or robbery from those
of another tribe is not looked on as a crime ; it is
as though they are always at war.
Each village måkes up a commune with an
"elder" as its head; this again is divided into

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