- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
67

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLES
67
"great families" with a father of the household for
each one; but this great family no longer seems to
be closely united, and the property is not held in
common. When a man dies his property is divided
in equal shares among the sons, but the eldest gets
the house and some cattle over and above his
share, and the youngest some cattle and weapons.
The daughters get nothing ; on the other hand, on
marriage a sum is paid for them, which goes to the
father or the brothers, they being, more or less,
property that can be sold. Among most of the
Ossete tribes there are no distinctions of rank or
class.
The Ossetes live by husbandry, but still more by
cattle-raising, especially up in the mountains; in
former times robbery was also quite an important
way of livelihood. In the lower valleys there is
sometimes a rotation of crops : in the first year on
the newly manured land wheat or maize is raised,
in the second year barley, and in the third year it
is left fallow. Oats and millet are also grown, and
peas, beans, potatoes, cucumbers, and so on. In the
upper valleys it is usually rye and barley that are
grown ; but up on the mountain slopes there are no
very big patches of earth, and cattle-raising is the
main thing. They have sheep mostly, and some
goats, cows, and horses. The cattle in the summer
spend the night in a field near the house, fenced
round with a stone wall or hurdles like our own
cattle ; on winter nights they are in byres, generally
on the lower floor of the dwelling-house, as among
the Khevsurs. The dung is collected and mostly put

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