Curiosities of Marriage

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Curiosities of Marriage. The theory of English scholars concerning the evolution of marriage is in a measure confirmed by Prof. Kovalevsky's studies in Russian ethnography. The evidence of a primitive condition of great license is, however, slight, and rests principally on the testimony of prejudiced witnesses. The evidence of a matriarchal and endogamic stage is stronger, and receives some confirmation from customs that survive among Russian peasants. The transition to marriage by capture and exogamy was general. The former practice existed in Servia and Montenegro until recent times. The growth and prevalence of the custom of purchase are shown by the wedding songs in use among Russian peasants. The Mordvins of Russia, according to the Hon. John Abercromby's conclusions, before they came in contact with the Slavs, wooed by proxy and contracted marriage by purchase, but went through the form of capturing and carrying off the bride as a proof of courage and address. The author calls this form marriage with capture instead of marriage by capture. He thinks the latter was not in use among them, while marriage by purchase may have existed among them from the polished stone age. Capture is sometimes resorted to to reduce the price of a girl or to avoid payment, but is an incident of marriage by purchase. Among the Manchus, according to a gentleman of that people, the middle-man takes a large part in arranging marriages. When he has brought the parents of the pair to an agreement, a solemn inspection of each party is made by the mother of the other, to see that the bridegroom is not dumb, the bride not lame, etc. Then cards and presents are exchanged. The marriage ceremony lasts three days. In the bridal chamber the couple are fed with "offspring dumpling" and "longevity dough"; and a "longevity lamp" is kept burning. An important ceremony is the uniting the cups, by the couple drinking wine alternately from two cups tied together by a red string. Frequently children are promised to each other in marriage while still very young.