- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
68

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
68
on the fields. But this is not the custom among
other Caucasian peoples; like the Russians they
use the dried cow-dung for fuel, of which up in the
bare treeless mountains there is very little. The
dung is kneaded into cakes, and often piled up
against the house walls to dry in the sun.
In the forested valleys the forests are also worked
to some extent, and the timber is floated as in
Norway. The streams are swift-flowing and full of
obstructions, and the timber often gets held up and
has to be cleared.
The men do the heavy outdoor work : ploughing,
haymaking, thrashing, wood-cutting, rafting, car
pentry, masons’ work, etc. The women work in the
house, rnilk and drive the cows and small cattle,
spin and weave ; they also work in the fields, cut the
corn with sickles, bring brushwood from the forest,
and so on.
The death of a man, needless to say, is a great
event in these small societies, and among the
Ossetes and Khevsurs is celebrated with great
ceremony, in which the whole village takes part
with mourners and wailing women, and horse
races, much feasting, beer, and spirits. The burial
and the journey to the land of the dead are bound
up with old heathen customs. In the year following
up to twelve memorial festivals are held, to which
the people of the neighbouring villages are bidden.
This has to be done so that the dead man in the
other world may get the sacred bread, beer, and
spirits, and not have to eat grass. But the widow
has to fast a whole year, and wear a coarse black

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