- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
240

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
240
say; they may either have come down the river
from its upper part, or else from the Black Sea
up the Don, dragging the ships overland from the
Khazar town of Sarkel to the Volga, near the
Stalingrad (Tsaritsin) of today.
"Never have I seen such tall people," he says;
"they are as tall as palms, ruddy and red-cheeked.
They wear no undershirt and no caftan. The man
wears a coarse cloak, which he throws round one
side so that a hand is left free. Each man carries
an axe, a knife, and a sword. You never see them
without these weapons. . . . The women wear on
the breast a box made ofiron, copper, silver, or gold ;
to this a ring is fastened, and to this a knife. Around
the neck they wear chains of gold and silver, and the
number of these depends on the husband’s wealth.
Their greatest ornaments are green glass beads.
They are the dirtiest people God ever made;
they never wash after the calls of nature, nor at
night. . . . They are just like wandering wild asses."
For an Arab, with his many prescribed ablutions,
anything ofthis kind was the most dreadful savagery.
Wc are told of their idols made of wood, and of
their offerings to them to be granted good trade.
In the houses each man had a broad bench on
which he sat with his girls and beauties that were
for sale. There he dallied with one of his girls, while
his friend, sometimes even several of the men at
the same time, looked on. ...
There is a very remarkable account of a chief’s
funeral witnessed by Ibn Fadhlån. The dead man,
wearing splendid apparel of gold cloth with gold
buttons and a gold cloth-cap edged with sable,

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