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the wedding day the father of the bride makes her a present, but he reserves the greater portion of what he intends to give her, until the birth of her first child. On this occasion she visits him, receives the remainder of her portion, and is clothed for the first time in the matron's dress and veil. If there be rival lovers, they often decide the question by single combat, or engage friends in the quarrel, and the victorious party seizes the prize. If the bridegroom can prove any thing against the former character of his bride, he sends her back to her parents, who generally sell her as a slave. An unfaithful wife has her hair shaved, her ears clipped, and the sleeves of her robe cut off, and in this situation is sent home to her father on horseback, to be sold as a slave. The Circassians have two kinds of divorce; one total, and the other provisional. In the first case both parties are immediately at liberty to marry again; in the other, the couple agree to separate for a year, and if at the end of that time the husband does not send for a his wife, her relatives compel him to a solemn divorce, that she may be able to marry again. After the death of the husband, the wife governs the family, without dividing the property among the children. When she dies, the wife of the eldest son usually takes her place ; the children can then demand a division of the fortune, the oldest receiving the largest share. At funerals, women utter loud cries of grief, and disfigure themselves with scars, They wear black for mourning. *
The Circassians, like the Arabs, are remarkable for hospitality. They will incur any dangers to protect a person that has eaten of their food. Should the enemies of a stranger attempt to seize him in the house of a Circassian, the wife of his host would give him milk from her own breast, in token of adoption; and from that moment all the tribe would feel bound to avenge his wrongs, as if he were a brother.
The Circassian women have been celebrated throughout the world for their beauty. Some modern travellers have denied their claims to such great celebrity. Dr. Kimmel says, “I have met with none of extraordinary beauty; and officers who have long commanded in the Caucasus have informed me that Circassian beauties are extremely rare.”
But it must be remembered that women of the higher classes are rigorously excluded from the sight of a traveller; and in a country where the feudal system prevails to its utmost extent, the handsome daughter of a serf would be immediately claimed by her noble master, who could sell her for the royal harems, or reserve her for himself, as he saw fit.
Women of rank embroider, weave elegant baskets, and other ornamental things. The lower class tend the flocks, weave garments for the men, and do a variety of household and out-door work. The serfs are the only class who continue to live with a wife after she grows old. It is an uncommon thing for any man or woman, even among the princes, to know how to read or write.
The condition of the Georgians is very similar to that of their neighbors the Circassians. The Georgian women are very remarkable for beauty; but are said to be wanton, treacherous, and uncleanly. A great trade in female slaves has been carried on in Georgia. Fathers sell their children, brothers their sisters, and nobles their vassals. Jewish agents are continually traversing the provinces about Caucasus, seeking the fairest flowers for the harems of Turkey and Persia. A handsome, redhaired girl will sell in Constantinople for six or seven thousand piastres. The Georgian women are tasteful and elegant in their dress, and great pains are taken to perfect them - in those voluptuous arts of pleasing, which the Orientals call female accomplishments. The men being almost always engaged in war, or hunting, there is very little companionship between the sexes. The Armenians are Christians; but their customs with regard to women are very similar to the Turks, excepting that their laws do not permit a plurality of wives. They keep their wives and daughters as rigorously excluded as the Turks do theirs. A man never sees the face of the woman he is to marry, and courtship is a thing unknown. * * * The mother of a young man generally selects a bride for him, and makes all necessary arrangements concerning the dowry, bridal presents, &c. The nature of these presents are regulated by old laws and usages, and each article is blessed by a priest.
When the bridegroom goes to bring his bride from her father's house to his own, his father-in-law gives him a new watch, and the nearest female relations hang pieces of gold tinsel on his hat. He is introduced to the bride, who sits on a low sofa, so completely buried in dresses, that not so much as the tip of her shoe is visible. A thick white linen veil, called the perkem, used only for bridals, is thrown over her head; over this is another veil composed of tinsel, or sheets of gilt paper. Her hair flows down, and, joined to a mass of false hair, rests upon the sofa. The priest leads her blindfolded to the centre of the room, places her hand in that of the bridegroom, and pronounces a blessing. All the company then form in procession; a priest goes first with a lighted torch, and is followed by the bridegroom ; the march is closed by the bride, who, being unable to see for herself, is led by female relations. When they arrive at the bridegroom's house, the bride is smoked with incense, and sprinkled with rose-water. She is then led to her apartments, and left with the women. The bridegroom proceeds to his apartment, where he is shaved and dressed in his wedding suit, every article of which is blessed by the priest, as he presents it. The couple are then led forth to the centre of another apartment, where the priest again joins their hands, and knocks their foreheads gently together. One of the family waves a crucifix over them, they again touch foreheads, and continue to lean against each other, while the priest chants some passages from the gospel. When he has done singing, the priest produces two strings exactly alike, made of white and rose-colored silk interwoven together. He ties one round the brow of the bridegroom, over whom the crucifix is held, and asks, with a solemn pause between each question, “If she is blind, thou acceptest her ?” “If she is lame, thou acceptest her ?” “If she is hump-backed, thou acceptest her ?” To each question the bridegroom answers, “I accept.” The other silken string is then tied round the brow of the bride, over whom the crucifix is held. The priest says, “Thou acceptest.” She answers, “I accept.” The company then shower small pieces of money on the couple, the cross is waved, and the priests chant. All the men quit the room for a short time, while the matrons remove a quantity of the robes and veils, under which the bride is well nigh stifled. At a given signal, the husband is admitted, and allowed to see, for an instant, the countenance of his wife. e All the company then pass in. The bride is not again enveloped with the linen veil, but her face is covered with the tinsel and gold paper. The female guests kiss her, and put presents in her hand. After this, all the male relations, to the remotest degree, are allowed a glance at the bride's face, and the favor of kissing her hand. Feasting and amusements then commence, and continue for three days. All this time the bride is obliged to sit motionless on the sofa ; it would be