Bride Price Practices in Nestorian, Armenian, Yezidi and Circassian Communities in the 19th Century Ottoman Empire
Dalyan, Murat Gokhan
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Bride price is a tradition in effect in various parts of the world. As a contentious subject, it is a traditional institution with centuries of history behind it in the Middle East. It played a role in social life in Nestorian, Circassian, Yezidi and Armenian communities in the 19th Ottoman Empire. The amount and value of the price paid for the bride in these communities was a source of pride and an indicator of social status. While it was payable in goods such as property, grains etc. in some locations, it used to be paid in cash in others. Regardless, the quantity of the bride price went up or down depending on the social status, civil standing and the residence of the bride's family in all of the communities. The importance accorded to the tradition and its application across these communities shows the shared material perspective they employed in regards to women. To prevent blood feuds arising from incidences of elopement that occurred due to excessive bride price requests, Yezidis implemented a practice known as "herder. If the bride was to die or if she eloped, the price paid for the bride used to be returned to groom's family. As levels of education rose and owing to social conflicts, the practice of bride price waned. This article focuses on what bride price meant to the communities in question and sheds light on the similarities and differences among them in regards to the practice. In addition, it considers the impact of the perceptions about women on the meaning attributed to the bride price tradition.
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