- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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Woman is, of course, a lower creature, who exists
to perform work for her husband, to give him pleasure,
and to bear and look after his children. She is naturally
altogether unclean, and must not on any account
interfere in sacred or supernatural concerns. Thus in
no circumstances may a woman cross the track of a
caravan. Middendorff tells us that once, when making
an observation, he set up his instrument on a sledge,
to be able to read it more conveniently ; but
his Samoyede companion cried out in dismay : " A
woman’s sledge! You are offending your gods
terribly." Middendorff was obliged to perform com
plicated ceremonies of expiation to reassure his
Samoyede friend.
One soon notices, in mixing with these people, that
a strict division of labour exists between men and
women. The men have entire charge of the reindeer
and of the driving with reindeer, and they also carry
on fishing and hunting. But as soon as they come
home to the tent, they do no work at all, except such
things as mending their nets or other appliances. The
women take charge of the catch, and do all the house
keeping, preparation of skins, sewing, and cooking.
They set up the tent and keep it in order, take it down
and move it when required, and then, of course, they
have charge of the children.
Although woman thus occupies a subordinate posi
tion, one has the impression that she is in every way
well treated ; as a rule there can be no question of
any oppression, and it is very rarely that she is spoken
to harshly. She plays an important part in the house
hold, and the husband consults his wife on all matters
of consequence. Nor is there, I understand, any lack
of wives who rule the roast, or henpecked husbands.
When they are drunk it may sometimes happen that

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