Tats - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Endogamy was the norm. A marriage with a blood relative (particularly a cousin) was regarded as the most honorable. The norm was marriage by contract, but the abduction of girls (without their consent) and marriage by elopement (with their consent but without that of the parents) were also known. Betrothals were sometimes arranged in the cradle. The ideal age for marriage was traditionally considered to be 14 years for women, 18 for men. But girls were often married when considerably younger—at 11 to 13—whereas men married later. A widow had the right to marry a second time. The marriage of a widow with the brother of her deceased husband (levirate) was condoned. The conclusion of the marriage bond was accompanied by the exchange of gifts and the payment of various sums by the groom and his parents to the parents of the girl. The bride-price did not remain theirs, however, but went to benefit the bride. The groom paid the mother of the bride "milk money" ( sÿd bagha ; in Azerbaijani, literally, "the price of milk") in the sum of ten to twenty rubles. The marriage contract was concluded by a mullah in the presence of witnesses for both sides. By the contract the groom would pay kebin —provision for the wife in case of divorce—ranging from twenty rubles to several thousand. The kebin money was regarded as the inviolable property of the wife. The bride was selected for the young man by his parents, who sent matchmakers to the girl's parents. Once they had received consent, they set a date for the betrothal ( ärus ), to which they invited the relatives of the groom and the bride. They brought clothing and jewelry as gifts from the groom to the bride and sweets for those attending the betrothal. The wedding ( arsi ) was held in the autumn or winter, when time could be spared time from fieldwork. For the wedding they prepared a dowry, refreshments, and gifts. The groom presented the bride's father with a horse, a weapon (dagger or rifle), and cattle (the number of head already stipulated before the betrothal). The wedding took place over two to seven days, simultaneously in the house of the groom and that of the bride. The refreshments were conveyed to the house of the bride by the groom's family. The bride, wearing a special veil ( arnæ ), her face hidden, was brought to the groom's house on a horse. Before she entered the house, the mother of the groom sprinkled the bride with rice or wheat. At the wedding, songs in the Azerbaijani language and Azerbaijani dances were performed, and musicians (a drummer and two clarinet players) entertained the guests. After the wedding the bride observed customary avoidance towards the parents of her husband and his older kinsmen: she did not speak to them (expressing herself with gestures) and strove not to be seen by them at all. The husband's brother avoided his sister-in-law and could only see her veiled. The custom of avoidance was also observed by the husband, who over the course of the first two years carefully concealed himself from the parents of the bride.

Domestic Unit. The average size of the Tat family at the end of the nineteenth century was eight people. The nuclear family, consisting of a married couple and their children, predominated. Larger families, including parents and the families of their sons (the paternal type of extended family) or the families of married brothers (the fraternal type of extended family) were rare. The head of the family was the husband (in his absence, the oldest son) who enjoyed the respect and unquestioning submission of all members of the family. When the head entered the room, the entire family rose and did not sit down again before receiving his permission. The head was in charge of the economy, assigned tasks to every member of the family, and demanded the assignment of all earnings into the common funds.

Socialization. Children of 5-6 years of age helped their parents at work. The boys drove horses to water and pastured the cattle, and the girls prepared food and learned to knit and weave. At first children of both genders were completely in the care of their mother. Later the mother took responsibility for the girls, whereas the boys came under the supervision of their father. Great attention was devoted to moral education and gaining familiarity with the traditions and norms of Tat society.


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