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(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - V. Nosónovski Pesok and the Samoyedes

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mother was an ugly, lame little creature, and it was
difficult to understand that she could tempt anybody,
whether Samoyede or Russian.
The other wife had an infant in a basket cradle,
which hung under the sloping side of the tent ; she
herself was so well hidden behind the flap of the door
that it was difficult to get a glimpse of her.
It is not to be wondered at that the children may
be of somewhat mixed descent among a people like
this, where wives are bought, often at a high price,
and are treated as their husband’s property, which he
can hire out or dispose of as he thinks fit. From what
Middendorff says, it was not an unusual thing for
Cossacks, placer-miners, and others to borrow the
wives of the natives for the summer, or sometimes for
the winter, making a suitable payment in return. And
if a man has two wives and does not want them both,
he often hires out one of them ; the advantage of this
proceeding is that, while as owner he receives a share
of the catch, by common custom another share falls to
In old times it was one of the duties of hospitality
among these nomads that a host should honour his
guest by placing his wife or daughter at his disposal ;
indeed, Middendorff says this custom still prevailed
among the Samoyedes in his time.
To what extent the wife is regarded as a piece ot
property is shown by the following story, which Castrén
tells in 1846 : A Samoyede nomad was arrested and
sent to Turukhansk for håving killed his wife and, as
was reported, eaten her (?). When the judge, in the
course of his examination, asked him how he could
do such a thing, he coolly replied : " I bought my
wife and paid a fair price for her, and I suppose I can
do what I like with my own property."

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