Meskhetians - Marriage and Family



At the beginning of the twentieth century large extended families were still present among the Meskhetians. Patriarchal and Islamic traditions have been maintained in the domestic sphere. Marriages were endogamous and patrilocal. If today tradition is not as stable, there are still preferences in regard to marriage, with the most typical being marriage between relatives whose common link was four generations earlier. The marriage was traditionally contracted when the couple was quite young. The matrimonial cycle consists of the agreement, the official matchmaking at the fiancée's home, an evening banquet, and the wedding itself. On the day when the wedding date is set, the father of the bride receives the bride-price, usually worth about 10,000 rubles. By custom, half of this sum is returned during the preparations for the wedding. On Thursday, the day before the wedding celebration, the matrimony is confirmed according to Sharia (Islamic religious law) in the presence of a mullah and two witnesses. Meskhetian weddings are colorful affairs with many people participating. This tradition appears to be stably maintained to the present day. Despite the disappearance of many components of the traditional way of life, the matrimonial cycle has not only been preserved, but has collected (and continues to collect) within its structure many elements that had vanished from other spheres of the culture and that earlier had not been part of the wedding rituals. The contemporary Meskhetian wedding, with its accumulation of variegated elements of the traditional culture, has become a special repository for an otherwise disappearing culture. The matrimonial cycle concludes with the procession of the newlyweds to the husband's home, which was specially constructed for this occasion. Here the newlyweds commence their life together in accordance with the norms of Islam and the customs of traditional Turkish society. Kinship relations (and likewise the entire system of kinship terminology) correspond to those of classical Turkish Islamic culture, with the exception of certain local variations.


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