How Kazakhs married in the old days

Creating a new family is a significant event for any nation. Kazakhs are no exception. Until now, during the matchmaking and marriage in Kazakhstan, many centuries-old traditions that existed in the steppe even before the advent of Islam were observed. How Kazakhs married in the old days

Parents of grooms and brides thought about creating a new unit of society long before they grew up. Therefore, no one gave the young people the choice of their betrothed. But the older generation, of course, did not wish harm to children, so they approached the matchmaking with all responsibility. They tried to find a life partner for their bloodline to find the appropriate status and affluence, and made sure that there were no serious diseases that could be inherited in the family of the future son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Therefore, since ancient times there was an unwritten rule – to avoid marriages between relatives to the seventh generation. To do this, every Kazakh had to cheat on a tooth to know his family tree – Shezhire. How Kazakhs married in the old days

How Kazakhs married in the old days

How Kazakhs married in the old daysNewlyweds. The girl is 13 years old and the boy is 11. The photo was taken at the beginning of the 20th century in Kyzylorda. How Kazakhs married in the old days

Marriage age, according to modern concepts, came very early. It was believed that early marriages would keep young people from reckless actions, as a result of which girls were married most often at the age of 13-14. At this age, the first twelve-year age cycle ended – “Masha”, and the girl from the age group “Kyz bala” passed into the group of girls – “Kyz”. Moreover, the family was poorer, the earlier the bride got into the groom’s house: in large families it was difficult to feed everyone, so parents tried to agree on a marriage early and give the daughter to her husband’s family. In wealthy families, they could keep their daughter under their stepfather and up to 20 years, and even longer.

Before the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom saw each other mostly only briefly. Under the supervision of vigilant aunts, the future husband was allowed to touch his hand or his braids narrowed, and on the eve of his marriage, he could even spend the night next to her. True, for this, the groom had to appease the girl’s relatives with small gifts (shawls, fabric cuts) and not allow himself to be superfluous, being with his chosen one. Allowed only to talk and thus recognize each other. How Kazakhs married in the old days How Kazakhs married in the old days How Kazakhs married in the old days

How Kazakhs married in the old daysWedding ceremony scene, 1899. Location: Kazakhstan, Semipalatinsk Region

By the way, the marriage of the Kazakhs was a very costly affair. I had to fork out from the moment of the matchmaking to the last rite, holding the marriage together. Қalyң mal (ransom for the bride) depended on the well-being of both families. The richer the bride was, the more expensive the parents demanded a dowry for her. Sometimes the wealthy parents of the groom drove off herds of cattle to future relatives. Later, at an official meeting, the matchmakers presented the bride’s mother with a special gift – “sүt akysy”. That is, payment for breast milk. Without “gratitude” for the daughter, the father did not remain. In turn, the party that raised the groom also did not leave for their village without gifts. Each clan tried not to fall face down in the mud and prepare approximately equal offerings for құdalar (matchmakers).

How Kazakhs married in the old daysScene of the wedding custom of the groom’s review, 1882

Kazakhs tried to marry their daughters and marry their sons at the end of summer or early autumn, when there were fewer household worries and the cattle was quite greasy. By the weather, on the wedding day, by the way, they judged the future fate of the young family: the better she was, the happier the family life of the newlyweds was predicted. Festivities were held first in the aul of the bride (Kyz Kazatu), then at the groom.

The historian Abdesh Toleubaev describes an interesting wedding ritual – untwisting the braids of a bride and separating her into two. The doubling of the girl’s braid symbolized the end of loneliness and the beginning of married life. According to some sources, this ceremony was carried out before sending the bride to the groom’s village, according to others – a few days after living in a new house. Leaving her father’s house, the bride should not have looked back. And upon arrival, before the wedding procession, the meeting youth stretched out their lasso and, having fun, demanded a ransom. Arkan, especially color, had a sacred meaning, it was impossible to cross it.

How Kazakhs married in the old days

How Kazakhs married in the old daysTreat guests. Dudin S.M. Kazakhstan, Semipalatinsk region, 1899

The white color of the Kazakhs was considered the color of purity, happiness and joy. Therefore, during the matchmaking, a white horse or a white ram was stabbed, at the first visit, the matchmakers smeared their faces with flour or chalk, the saukele was white, the yurt for the young (a қ otau) was also made from a white nightmare. Mostly large women installed it. This was supposed to bring happiness to the bride and groom. The bride was the first to enter the finished yurt. She crossed the threshold with her right foot and then had to hit her on the left side of the yurt. The same action after her was done by the groom. This meant introducing the family to the spirits of their ancestors, who would patronize a new unit of society. How Kazakhs married in the old days How Kazakhs married in the old days

Another obligatory ceremony is from May to Tamyzu. When the young daughter-in-law steps over the threshold of her new home, she pours a little melted butter into the kindled fire, which means “let the fire not go out in the hearth.” The fire of the Kazakhs was sacred.

And in the house of the father-in-law for the young daughter-in-law prepared a soft skin of a ram. The girl had to sit on it to be soft to her new parents. In addition, the Kazakhs believed that in this way the daughter-in-law would be prolific, and her labor pains would be as soft as the skin of a sheep.

The magic of fertility was also traced in another ancient rite – the betashar. Introducing the bride to new relatives, the invited singer opened her face from the wedding cover with the help of a fresh branch of a fruit tree. Later it was replaced by a dombra shaft. How Kazakhs married in the old days How Kazakhs married in the old days

How Kazakhs married in the old daysMelkov A.L. Family portrait. Kazakhstan, Semipalatinsk region, 1927

“One of the ritual dishes for the bride and son-in-law was the brisket of a ram or other animal. The brisket played a similar role in the Uzbek and Mongolian wedding rituals. In our opinion, the brisket of animals, as one of the most juicy, greasy parts of the carcass, personified wealth, prosperity and at the same time was associated with the cult of fertility. One of the Kazakh tales tells about the bitter fate of childless people. Once an old woman eats a horse’s brisket and becomes pregnant. Thus, the hero of the fairy tale is born, who receives the name Yer-Toastik – “Hero-Brisket,” writes Abdesh Toleubaev.

Wishing the young people prosperity and prosperity, relatives carried out the rite of sashu – showered them with sweets, nuts, kurt. After the wedding feast, the saukele was removed from the bride and a scarf was put on. Replacing hats meant that the girl had now become a married woman.

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