CEREMONY AND CUSTOM
Both as an event and as a relationship, marriage is at the centre of village society. The household is founded directly upon it, and its internal structure shaped by the marriages of its members. Almost all except agnatic relations between households result from marriages. From the moment when a couple are united, they direct their long-term plans to the marriages of their children. This central position of marriage is matched by the great ceremonial emphasis it receives. Weddings are the most conspicuous occasions in village life, and almost the only opportunity for organised merry-making. Their social and ritual importance is consistent with their cost - one wedding may cost almost the total annual income of a household.
No two weddings are arranged and, celebrated in precisely the same way. They vary with social standing, with the social distance between the parties, and with area. Even within a single village, two normal weddings of similar scale may vary in a number of details. The season for proper weddings is the winter, preferably early, before the severe snow, or late - after the thaw has begun. The winter I passed in Sakaltutan was one of acute economic shortage and very severe weather; I witnessed only two full-scale weddings within the village, and the departure of two brides to other villages. In Elbashï, a homicide prevented any weddings at all in the autumn of 1951, though twenty were planned. Summer weddings are always limited affairs, and I only saw one of them in each village. I did, however, attend two full-scale weddings in other villages as a guest from Sakaltutan. The composite account which follows is based partly on observation
*Father and bride: the last farewell. (p.183)
*Travelling craftsmen are sometimes highly specialised. These men carry a large saw for making planks from baulks of timber: they are a kind of travelling saw mill. (p.64-70)
*The trousseau on its way. (p. 181)
*Dancing at a wedding: notice the lady's masculine feet. Men never watch women dance. (p.182)
on these occasions, partly on the statements of informants.
Initiative lies with the father of the groom. In theory, the young people themselves have no say at all, and the women can only suggest and advise. It is the household head who decides, and it is he who makes the formal approach. In fact, a boy's own wish may often influence his father's choice, and even a girl of strong character and skill may be able to exercise some influence. As for the women, marriage is their main interest, and their gossip and planning must be a major factor in the decision which is formally their husband's right.
A boy is normally married between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two or so, though there are always exceptions. Three or four men told me of marriage in their very early teens. `My understanding did not suffice' (aklim yetmedi), one of them commented. In one of these cases, the household desperately needed more womanpower; in the others, a very poor boy or an orphan was married by his seniors to the widow of an older kinsman before the opportunity slipped away. At the other end, one or two men married late, either from poverty or from prolonged absence from the village. I knew no confirmed bachelors.
Girls are normally married at about fourteen to eighteen years of age. Orphans and the very poor are sometimes married even younger. One woman described her early marriage. Neither she nor her husband yet knew what to do - `we were ashamed (utandik)' - and she found the work expected of her very hard. By contrast, the oldest normal unmarried girl of whom I heard was said to be twenty-three. No explanation was offered by people; but her father was very rich and important for a villager, and probably family prestige was a major factor.
Once a man has fixed his choice, he goes with, or sends, one or two close kin, and a respected senior man less close to him as negotiator, to pay a formal visit to the girl's home. They are received by a similarly constituted committee, and negotiations are conducted with great delicacy through the intermediaries. I was told in Sakaltutan that a bride price is agreed at this meeting, and a first' instalment (hecelik) is expected either on
For comparative data on Turkish weddings, see H. Z. Koshay (1941); also I. Yasa (1957), chapter VIII.
the spot or within a few days. In Elbashï, to mention financial details at this point is shameful, though both sides will of course have aair idea how much is likely to be asked and given.
The next step, betrothal (nishan), follows within a month or so. A group of women, four or five or more, including the groom's mother, and kin and non-kin neighbours, pay a formal visit to the girl's home, accompanied, if the journey requires it, by two or three men. They are given a large ceremonial meal, which they reciprocate the next morning from supplies which they have brought with them. The men leave the women to make the acquaintance of their future affines, returning to fetch them after a day or two. The two groups of women spend the evenings in dancing and singing - strictly without men. They bring presents - ideally including gold ornaments - for the bride, and throw her coins when she dances for them.
During the betrothal period which follows, the couple are not supposed to see each other, and people say that the father will use violence if he discovers that his daughter has broken this rule. Nevertheless, couples normally do meet, with the connivance of the women of the bride's household. All fathers in fact know the custom, and are presumably normally careful not to make embarrassing discoveries. The groom is expected to visit the household of his betrothed from time to time, bringing her gifts, and these visits provide the necessary opportunities. Betrothals may last anything from a week or two to several years. A respectable engagement lasts months at least, and if the young man is away working or doing military service, or either household runs into misfortune, the delay may be much longer. Long engagements, I was told, are punctuated by visits similar to the original betrothal visit.
The unofficial courting of the betrothal period comes out into the open if an engagement is broken. Then it is said that the girl's honour is blemished because she has been secretly embraced by her betrothed, and thus her chances of a good marriage have been lost.
Formal childhood betrothal appears to be unknown. In one case, a widow promised her son's baby daughter to her new husband as a bride for his infant son, her new stepson. This promise was kept, but I was told it did not count as a betrothal, the ceremonies for which took place at the usual
time. Similar understandings are common among close kin1
The girl's household are responsible for providing the trousseau (ce§iz). Preparations begin at a girl's birth, and as she grows up she must herself weave prayer mats (kilim) and saddlebags (hebe). Nevertheless, much has to be bought, and a special expedition is made to Kayseri just before the wedding. In Elbashï, this expedition provides the cue for the father of the bride to send a message to the groom's father asking for money to buy the trousseau. I am told that this usually produces a crisis, and failure to agree on the sum is said sometimes to lead to the breaking off of negotiations. By this time both sides have invested time, money and honour in the marriage, and a rupture is therefore already a serious matter. In Sakaltutan, the payment of the balance of the bride price may lead to similar haggling, though the prior agreement and the fact that a large sum has already been paid makes a rupture even less likely.
The men of the groom's household also have some shopping to do. They must buy the cloth to make the wedding dress, a special wooden trunk that will be the bride's for her lifetime, and presents for members of her household and other kin. These are set out for inspection by the women of the groom's kin and neighbours, who pay a formal visit by invitation, pass frank comments, eat a special type of bread baked for the occasion, and leave a gift. The trunk with the gifts inside, (called düzen, that which makes smooth) is then taken by a small party of men to the bride's household. At this visit, at which once again a special meal may be eaten, final details of dates, numbers of guests and such like are fixed. Then the trunk is opened formally, and once again its contents are publicly inspected and criticised while the special bread is eaten, this time by the bride's womenfolk.
In Sakaltutan, the trousseau consisted normally of a complete set of mattresses and bedding, home-woven donkey bags and rugs, a supply of clothes for the bride, and presents of clothing for all the members of the groom's household and close kin, especially the groom himself. The same trunk in which the düzen arrives is used to pack the return gifts. The trousseau, like
- I. Yasa (1957) pp. 105-6 reports cases of child marriage, involving no more than the transferring of a child to its future spouse's husehold. I have no evidence against this having happened in the past in this area.
the düzen, is publicly inspected, first at a ceremony held in the bride's household, for her close kin and neighbours, and again three days after the consummationof the marriage, by the women of the groom's household and neighbourhood.
In Sakaltutan, the wedding begins four days or more before consummation, with the raising of a flag over the groom's house, the offering of hospitality in a large guest room - often borrowed from kin or neighbours - and the arrival of a drummer and piper. During the day, the men wrestle, dance, dress up as bandits, play soldiers, or watch professional male entertainers, sometimes dressed as dancing girls. In the evening the festivities continue in the guest room, with songs, stories, practical jokes and charades, often bawdy, and when the numbers drop, late at night, a game of `find the ring' played with upturned coffee cups.
Women, during the day, watch from afar. But in the evenings they too forgather, to dance in strict privacy, in a large living room or guest room. By this stage, seven or eight women, (yenge) will have been chosen, whose task it is to fetch the bride. They consist of kin of the groom, including members of his household (but never his mother), and one or two from other villages, and also of one or two non-kin neighbours. These are expected to dress in their wedding clothes and dance every evening during the dügün. In Sakaltutan, the final day must always, they insisted, be a Thursday or a Sunday, though in Elbashï the only days said to be barred were Tuesday and Friday. On the appropriate day, or the evening before if the distance is great, a party of men twenty to thirty strong, not including the groom, escort the yenge to the bride's home.
On the girl's side, far less public ceremony has taken place. A close circle of women kin and neighbours meet to dance for a few nights before the wedding. On the day before, the bride's right hand is ceremonially dyed with henna.
When the party arrives to fetch the bride, the men and women are entertained separately. The men may be allocated to different hosts in the girl's village, if the wedding is on a large scale. Dancing, foolery, coffee and cigarettes abound. The visitors are said to be `under the orders' of their hosts. There is much talk of singing publicly for the company, with threats of beating with cushions for the defaulters, and the
guests are made the butts for a variety of practical jokes.
At this point a form of dance practised in Sakaltutan and immediately neighbouring villages reaches its climax. A dozen or so men dance in a circle. One man goes into the circle and braces himself with his arms folded behind his back, and another jumps in and, with wild leaps and fierce shouts, punches him in the middle of the back. The puncher then takes the place of the victim, and another volunteer leaps into the ring, to deliver a punch and in his turn to become a victim. Mostly, the punching is moderate, and if anyone punches to hurt, he can expect the next man to do likewise. But, on one occasion, just before the bride left her home, the young men on the two sides were leaping into the ring alternately and punching as hard as they could. The village has stories of men's backs being broken at this game. In Elbashï it was regarded as typically uncouth, and unsuitable for civilised villages.
Meanwhile, the women guests are entertained by the girl's close womenfolk. Four of the visiting yenge, and one woman of the girl's side, also called yenge, take the bride into an inner room or cave where, solemnly lamenting and weeping, they dress her for her new husband. From this moment until she is alone with him, she is not allowed to speak, but weeps constantly. When she is ready, they leave her alone and rejoin the company. Finally a large meal is served, separately to the men and the women, and the groom's party prepare to depart in procession, as they came, headed by pipe and drum. The yengeler bring up the rear, with the bride in their midst. With much weeping and kissing of hands, she takes her leave, and mounted if possible on a white horse - (in fact, the means of transport I came across included a donkey, a horsedrawn cart, a lorry, a taxi, and the bride's own two legs) - she sets off, alone among the people of her new environment.
Numerous rites at the threshold of the new house are reported from all parts of Turkey. In Sakaltutan, the bride entered her new home under the legs of the mother-in-law, who was held up for the purpose. In Elbashï she was showered with nuts and coins by the groom. Once arrived, often in the morning, she must wait alone and silent until evening for her groom to come to her.
On the return of the party bringing the bride, the festivities in general end, and the drummer and piper take their leave.
Some of the men forgather for a ceremonial meal as guests of the boy's household (p. 160). The groom has been solemnlshaved and dressed in ritual silence by two or three specially chosen age mates, and attends this last solemn meal. He must not speak until he is alone with his bride. Finally, the whole company escorts him to evening prayer in the mosque, and then with religious chanting to his house, where a senior kinswoman takes him by the hand and leads him to his bride.
Normally the balance of the bride price has either been paid, or is paid during these last ceremonies. Also, secretly, the two fathers or other representatives of the couple retire at some point with an imam and perform the nikah, the religious rite which validates the marriage. This is always done in secret because enemies can easily, by tying magic knots at this moment, render the groom impotent. In theory, this rite alone makes the marriage valid in village eyes. No other part of the ceremony is indispensable (Stirling (1957), p. 29).
Virginity is highly valued, and the bride is expected to bleed at her deflowering. Accounts varied, but some ceremonial inspection by the women belonging to the groom's household seems to be normal, and the absence of blood is taken as proof of unchastity. An unchaste girl should be sent home in disgrace, but no one seemed very sure what in fact happens in such a case, or would quote actual instances.
The new bride is treated as a special person. She wears her new clothes till they are no longer new. For a week or two she is not allowed out of the house, and is only slowly broken into her new duties. She is not allowed to return home for a period varying, according to the distance, from a few weeks to six months or even a year. After a few weeks her husband's parents `open the road' between the households by a formal visit, after which her own people may visit her. A bride is said to remain a stranger in the new household for the first year.
When one or both of the pair has been married before - a class of marriage I call `secondary' in this book - the scale of the ceremonies is greatly reduced; there is normally almost no wedding festivity - dügün - at all. On one occasion I was one of a small party who went by night to a neighbouring village to fetch a bride to a widower in Sakaltutan. (We had been told that only three weeks before she had left her first husband, her
mother's brother's son, soon after marrying him, and that his famiy were likely to start shooting if they knew of the new marriage. The girl turned out to be practically blind, and incapable of work, and probably this whole story was poppycock.) We drank a brief coffee with her father and the go-between and set off on our return; as we entered our own village one or two of our company fired shots into the air, and the escort, which included only one woman (yenge), sang songs. We all, bar the bride and the yenge, went to a guest room, and I responded to a call for coffee and cigarettes. An elderly neighbour with a reputation for religious and magical knowledge was invited to pronounce the nikah. He offered us a range of qualities of nikah at various prices, and a price was chosen. We then all provided the groom with wedding clothes by a whip-round on the spot of the most respectable garments in the company - my trousers were a little small for him, but no one seemed worried - and off he went to his bride.
This example must represent the extreme of exiguity. Though no secondary marriage ever has public festivities, normally some gifts, formal visits and meals for kin are exchanged on a small scale.
The transfer of a woman from her natal to her marital household is accompanied here, as in many other societies, by exchanges of wealth. Among these is the cash payment which I have called bride price, known in these villages as `head thing', bashlik.
It has been argued, sometimes fiercely, that the payment of bride price, or marriage payment as it is often called, is not sale. It is therefore interesting that the villagers normally use the ordinary Turkish word for to sell, satmak (Koshay (1944) p. ix), in speaking of the marriage of a girl. Moreover, the ordinary words for give and take, vermek and almak, which are commonly used in Turkish for buy and sell, are also commonly used in the villages for giving and taking in marriage; in some contexts at least they seem to imply an idea of buying and selling.
Yet in fact the villagers themselves insist fiercely that this is no ordinary sale. `Are our daughters cattle that we should sell them?' Nowadays, the bride price is often regarded, especially
by educated observers, as a quid pro quo for the trosseau. The villagers themselves insisted time and again that every honourable father is out of pocket over his daughter's wedding, in spite of the bride price.
Certainly in Elbashï at least, the trousseau was systematically evaluated item by item against the bride price, leaving entertainment and other expenses aside. Yet in immediate terms, the claim must be false. Part of the trousseau is collected at home over a long period, some of it actually made by the girl herself, and these items are said always to be priced artificially high in the bride price negotiations. Part of the bride price must therefore represent a good recompense for work done in the past by the women of the household. On one occasion, a group of men admitted this in argument.
Bride price procedures varied within quite short distances. Not only did Sakaltutan differ in some details from Elbashï, but the villages to the west, nearer Kayseri, like Kayseri itself, had altogether different customs. Here, in place of a bride price paid in cash to the father, the father of the groom supplies the girl with gold ornaments of an agreed value. But these remain the girl's property, and return with her to her new husband. It is even possible, I was told, to borrow these, to give them to the bride, to recover them from her after the wedding, and then to restore them to their owner. The cost of trousseau supplied by the bride's father is not in this system covered by payment made by the groom's kin, and I was told that the marriage of a number of daughters might well ruin a man.
The amount asked for a girl varies greatly from marriage to marriage and from village to village, and since I949 it has been rising steadily. This rise is largely due to inflation, but the evidence I have suggests that the rise is steeper than the general rise in prices. The rise in real incomes has enabled the villagers to spend more on weddings, trousseau and bride price. In 1949-50 in Sakaltutan the normal amount for a respectable family to pay for a bride was about T.L.500. In one case, where a girl was sent an exceptionally long way to a more prosperous area, the price was T.L.750. In 1951 and 1952, in Elbashï, I heard of bride prices of T.L.1,250. In 1954, this same price was given for a girl of Sakaltutan marrying to a village four hours from home, while in 1955,
people in Elbshï were talking of bride prices of T.L.2,000.1
Bride price is directly related to the value of the trousseau and the scale of the festivities. The public examination of the trousseau makes skimping readily detectable, and since the one major aim of the proceedings is prestige, meanness or deceit provide their own sanctions. The public festivities are even more plainly a matter of conspicuous consumption. People said - perhaps an exaggeration - that the bride price represented only one-third of the cost of marrying a son.
Not every one can find the resources for such a display. In fact, the scale of bride price and the scale of the wedding vary with the social rank of the parties and with the social distance between them. Any household which aspires to respectability will demand, and expect to give bride price, but if the household is poor, it may be a much reduced one. Thus, in 1950 a girl was married to a close-by village for only T.L.300. Her father was old and poor, and had not the resources to face largescale ceremonies.
Between brothers, bride price is very much less, and a wedding between father's brother's children is always a small-scale affair, with little or no publicity. During my stay, a girl was married to the house next door to her father's brother's son for only T.L.200 and with so little fuss that I did not know of it till after it had happened. But between less close kin, kinship seems to affect the bride price proportionately less. One man, who told me how he had bargained the price for his son's bride down from T.L.700 to T.L.400 said that this was due to his not very close kinship with the bride's father. The stranger the environment to which a girl is to go, the higher the bride price and the greater the festivities. One nearby village had kin ties with a more prosperous village, Elmalï, some fifty miles away, through migration in the last generation. When a girl was married to this distant place, her whole native village combined to provide entertainment worthy of their more sophisticated affines.
When an unmarried girl marries a man who is already, or has been previously married, this relation between bride price and festivities no longer holds. The price is often much the same as would be asked from an unmarried young man's father, but the
- asa states that in Hasanoglan what he calls `the father's portion', and the wedding expenses, were declining. (I. Yasa (1957) p. 122.)
festivities are minimal. A normal trousseau is not customary in such cases, and a father makes a larger profi in cash than in a normal marriage; though he makes a decidedly smaller one in prestige.
For a widow or divorcée, the price is always much lower -about T.L.200 in 1950 - and arranged ad hoc. A small trousseau may be sent, but in general, again, a father spends much less than he gets.
Bride price is sometimes said to be a symbol of the legal transfer of rights over a woman. But in these villages it certainly is not. A woman is no less a bride if a bride price has not been paid, so long as a nikah has been pronounced. On the other hand, payment of bride price without nikah is not a marriage. Moreover, if the marriage breaks up, the bride price is not repayable to the husband or his father.
Rather, the cash payment appears as a material consideration to induce the holder of certain rights to part with them. It is in no sense a sale of the woman, but it is a kind of sale of the right to take her to wife. We cannot say that the money is direct compensation for the loss of a member of a household, because no one can hold on to his daughters as workers, and every father is anxious to marry them off as well as he can. What the father of the groom really buys is prestige for himself and his new affines. The owner of a modest, healthy, hardworking, unmarried girl drives as hard a bargain as he can in order to show the' high standing of himself and his daughter in the community and to demonstrate his virtuous solicitude for her.If he did not do this, he would be shamed.
Basically, then, the bride price is conspicuous consumption. The less known the other party, the more the need to impress them; the more distant they are socially, the more outsiders will be involved in and know about the wedding. Thus there are two good reasons why the consumption tends to become more conspicuous the greater the social distance. The less honourable the girl, the less the distance between the households, the less the circle of people involved, the less the readiness of the parties for reason of poverty to spend on ceremonies, the smaller the bride price. Equally, a foster father will take less trouble over a girl who is not his daughter, because she reflects less on him and his household. Bride price, then, does not play an indispensable function in village society, but is simply a self-perpetuating
custom, a response to general public expectations, involving that which touches a man most nearly - the honour of his womenfolk. Mercenary motives are not of course absent, but the aim is to appear magnanimous - without spending more than need be. It follows also that the less a man's honour and public face are involved, the more mercenary his behaviour. Thus for dishonoured, divorced, or widowed daughters, a father asks shamelessly what the market will bear, and gives as little as possible in return.
The Choice of a Bride
No formal rules restrict the choice of marriage partners, save only the limited incest rules of Islam. These bar to a man only his lineal descendants and ascendants, his parents' sisters, his own sisters, his siblings' daughters and grand-daughters, his father's wives and widows, their stepdaughters, his wife's mother and son's wife, and his current wife's sisters. The breastfeeding of an infant by a foster mother - not uncommon in village society, which knows no bottle-feeding - forms a link equal to a biological one for the reckoning of incest. No endogamous or exogamous groups exist.
Parents choosing a bride for their son look for honour and efficiency. At least in theory, honour is by far the most important. Any obvious interest in the opposite sex, let alone contact with a boy or man, sullies a girl's reputation. Secondly, she should be healthy and hardworking, thirdly she should be skilful, and fourthly she should be good-tempered and submissive. That is, she should be likely to contribute economically, and unlikely to cause trouble. Explicitly at least, sex appeal and beauty are not considered important.
The finding of a bride for a son is regarded as an important and difficult undertaking. Fathers of daughters are expected to be unwilling to give their daughters away. How far affection and a genuine concern for the daughter's welfare after marriage is a real factor in a father's decision it is extremely difficult to estimate. One man, for example, was reported to have refused his daughter to a widower on the grounds that her children would be overshadowed by his existing male children, and her position in his household therefore lower. Even here
the concern is with her status rather than her happiness. In some cases, fathers refuse to send their girls to strangers, or to distant villages, in case they be badly treated. But the more general attitude seemed to be that the girl must bear with whatever suits her father's convenience.
For both households, a marriage is an opportunity to establish new friendships or to strengthen old ones, and at the same time to build or maintain prestige. Household heads are therefore likely to choose new affines with care, a boy's father no less than a girl's. A boy's father can conceal his caution more easily because he holds the initiative, whereas a girl's father who is unwilling is placed in the position of refusing; though a refusal is normally expressed indirectly and tactfully, by making difficult conditions.
Normally, a man looking for a bride for his son moves outward through a series of concentric circles, beginning with his brothers' households, turning next to other close kin, then to neighbours and co-villagers and finally to strangers in other villages; or rather he moves along the chains of social relationships that happen to be open to him, choosing the closest girl who is both suitable and available. Women are more active than men in speculating and gossiping about marriages, and a wife's social net-work is as important as her husband's. The chain may well lead directly, through kinship, to another village. To give one example among many, a man gave his daughter to his sister's husband's sister's son. Both the linking marriages were between villages, so that Sakaltutan established a new link with one village through an old link with another.
In quite a number of cases, younger siblings had married into the families of their elders' affines. In two cases, three such marriages had taken place between two families. One man had exchanged a widowed younger sister for the widowed mother of a poor neighbour, and another had exchanged a daughter by his first marriage for a young second wife. Occasionally, a widow with a child marries a widower with a child. These children are expected to marry each other and remain in the parental household, and in several cases had actually done so.
A close kinswoman is not only easier to find; she may also be easier to fit into the household, since she will already have established relationships with the members, especially with her new mother-in-law.
The words `suitable and available' of course cover a host of factors. Quarrels and personal dislike may prevent an obvious match; or a chance contact or strong personal preference may lead to a surprising one. Moreover, the opposite argument from the normal one is also heard: that a marriage between households on friendly terms may well lead to estrangement, while marriage with strangers will bring the household new friends and allies. Nevertheless most marriages follow the established lines of kinship and friendship as far as is reasonably possible.
One factor which does not enter openly into the choice is the hope of wealth through inheritance. I was repeatedly told that it was shameful to think of such things, and that in any case it was foolish, since only God knew who would inherit what. At first I found this attitude surprising. But women's inheritance is always uncertain - indeed, the accidents of birth, death and remarriage make all inheritance uncertain, the more so because all rights are dependent on possessing the strength to establish them. In any case, fathers seemed remarkably unconcerned about their sons' prosperity after their own deaths.
Power and prestige are much commoner considerations. Some village households undoubtedly seek to use marriage as a means for recruiting followers and allies, or for repairing bruised or broken relationships (p. 252). If some of the poorer householdsdid not aspire to motives of this kind, they would still be concerned to choose affines who would bring them honour rather than disgrace. But to perceive and evaluate such motives accurately even in contemporary marriages is difficult, and for past marriages wellnigh impossible. The villagers themselves implicitly emphasise the complexity of, and apparent arbitrariness of the human element in marriage, by their attribution of all marriages to the Divine Will. God's command (`Allahïn emri') is the standard answer to all questions about marriages, and the same phrase constantly enters into the negotiations. Like the two greater mysteries, birth and death, the allocation of spouses, even in a God-controlled world, is seen as pre-eminently a province of Divine intervention.
In most human societies, the choice of marriage partners depends to some degree on the mutual attraction of the young people themselves. In this society, desirability is not a private
matter, but almost exclusively social. The bride price, negotiated ad hoc in each case, acts as a public measure of this social evaluation of the girl. It is one of the main pressures which keep bride price rising as incomes rise.
Pre-marital Sex and Elopement
The highly prized honour of a marriageable daughter is naturally well defended. Young women are seldom left alone, and older members of their households are constantly on the watch. Many of the girls undoubtedly share their elders' morality, and avoid opportunities. They are mostly married fairly soon after puberty - and people say explicitly that it is unwise to keep a mature girl unmarried lest she lose her honour.
The young men marry later, and for most of them adventure in the village must be difficult and dangerous. Open courtship is absolutely out of the question. It is impossible to know how much goes on in secrecy. Certainly the caves behind and below the houses, which are used for storing straw, have a reputation for illicit love, but I doubt if they are very often used by girls before betrothal, simply because they are so seldom allowed out of the sight of their elders. It was generally agreed by informants, whether they disapproved or not, that most young men solve the problem of physical satisfaction by paying for their pleasure in town.
Some men claimed that village women, particularly the young ones, are so unsophisticated that if a man can only engineer the opportunity, seduction is simple. Others said that even a betrothed girl will defend her virginity until after marriage, and a priori I find it difficult to believe that girls do not know a great deal about sexual matters very early in life. The village women are less prudish among themselves than the men, and sex and reproduction form a major interest in their conversation.
In any case, much less than a secret assignation is needed to rouse gossip and bring a girl's honour into question. One girl of a rather poor family was married very suddenly to her fiancé in another village with no ceremonies at all. It turned out that one of the village young men had been making passes at her, and was said to have paid an old man in potatoes for charms to
win her affections. Her father's reaction was to hurry her out of harm's way - and incidentally to exchange the prestige of a poper wedding for a cash advantage, for, though he forwent part of the bride price, he escaped with a much reduced trousseau, and no expensive entertaining. After I left the village, a young girl was kidnapped by village lads. People said that it was only a boyish prank, and that a Kayseri hoca had pronounced her quite unsullied. Nevertheless she was rapidly and unceremoniously married off to a distant village, though, perhaps because they did not know all the facts, perhaps because of her guardian's high standing, a large bride price was paid.
In spite of the strict rules and defences, boys and girls are bound to see each other in the ordinary daily round of work. Some at least manage to exchange messages and arrange secret meetings. Occasionally such an affair ends in elopement.
The Turkish kïz kaçirma, to make a girl run away, is nearer in meaning to `kidnapping' than `elopement', and puts the responsibility firmly on the man. It is a recognised, although dangerous and disapproved, method of acquiring a wife. It not only provides for passion in a system in which it is formally ignored, it also provides a way of evading the heavy costs of normal marriage; and occasionally it can be a move in hostilities between lineages.
Five out of the 134 contemporary marriages in Sakaltutan were known to me to have begun with elopement and I am confident there were others about which I did not hear. Three cases were said to have taken place in a neighbouring village during our stay in Sakaltutan, and one actually occurred in Elbashï during our stay there. Roughly I would estimate that about one marriage in twenty begins by elopement - more towards the lower end of the village hierarchy than at the top.
An elopement involves three parties, the families of the two young people, and the couple as a new unit. Normally, the young man takes his bride to his.own household, who ought by rights to be ashamed, but in fact are usually not unduly distressed. The bride's family of the other household are expected to react strongly, to threaten violence, and to be difficult to reconcile. In practice, what happens depends on the situation. I was not able to gather full material on any one elopement, though I heard of a number both past and present.
One informant of Sakaltutan told me that his wife, who was a close neighbour, had been a childhood playmate. He and she had a secret understanding, and the marriage was apparently acceptable to both parties. But his father was poor, and put off the wedding. To save his father expense and trouble, he said, after six months of secret courting, he simply brought the girl home one night. Instead of being pleased, his father was very angry, and said he would far rather have contracted debts than faced such a disgrace. Nevertheless, since both fathers were on good terms, and neither too well off, the new marriage was accepted.
A case occurred in Elbashï during our stay. A young man from a middle-range family, persuaded the daughter of a fairly poor man from the far end of the village to come home with him. She accepted largely because she could not abide her stepmother. Her father was very angry, and declared he would have no more to do with her, but no one talked of violence. After only a few days she found her mother-in-law, who was notorious for meanness and bad temper, to be a fire rather hotter than the frying pan of a stepmother she had left behind. She attempted, whether seriously or not I do not know, to drown herself in the village spring, but was rescued and dissuaded by a group of women and taken to the house of her mother's brother's son. She remained with him for a while, but eventually was reconciled to her father and married off to a distant village.
One of my best informants in Elbashï had eloped with the sister of a neighbour. In spite of three formal reconciliations, one of which I effected, they were not on speaking terms. No money passed in this case. Another young man in a household in which we were accepted had obtained his wife by the same means. He was said to have been asked a bride price before the elopement of T.L.I,000, and to have settled the matter after the elopement for T.L.200, with no trousseau. Many of the stories of elopement fitted this pattern - a highly variable period of intransigent indignation, followed by a settlement for cash, and reconciliation. But people insisted that elopement was a serious matter, and liable to cause violence, and this is not pure talk. A man from a neighbouring village belonged to a lineage which had been involved in reciprocal elopement with a rival lineage. He met a member of this rival lineage casually in Kayseri. Words led to blows, and he was knifed to death.
Remarriage and Polygamy
During the early nineteen-fifties the death rate was still high enough to ensure a good number of widows and widowers, most of whom remarry. Add to these those who remarry following a divorce and the very few polygamous marriages, and the total is a sizeable proportion of all marriages. These are what I call secondary marriages. As I am treating remarriage after divorce here with remarriage after bereavement, where appropriate the word widow or widower includes also divorced persons.
The loss of a wife is a serious blow to a man. He cannot himself look after small children, or cook. He cannot even decently fetch himself water. The urgency to find a replacement depends on the number and age of the children, and on the alternative womanpower available, either in his own household or readily to be borrowed. An older man with a resident daughter-in-law is in no hurry, and may not remarry at all, whereas a man with young children and no woman in the household may be in a desperate plight.
In the whole area, old men with daughters-in-law apart, I knew of only one man without a wife. He did his own cooking and chores. He had two sons, said to be 13 and 15 years old, the elder of whom would soon be able to bring in a daughter-in-law. Perhaps he preferred to keep his resources, which were very limited, for his son's marriage. His behaviour was however decidedly eccentric.
Normally, urgency precludes careful choice and preparation. A widower has a home in running order, and desperately needs a competent housekeeper. Public display is out of the question; he does not want a large trousseau, and is not usually much concerned about physical attractiveness or honour. He is very likely to take a widow or a divorcee, and the market for secondhand wives is always brisk. Sometimes a widower takes an unmarried girl for a rather higher bride price, but he will be allowed to have her only as a favour because she is a close kinswoman or because her honour has been sullied; or because her father is poor or not unduly concerned with his own honour.
People say it is the duty of the deceased wife's family to supply a sister, for a reduced bride price and without a full wedding. Very often, of course, this is impossible, and I only
met one case among the existing marriages, but there were one or two more recorded in genealogies. In a number of other cases, widowers had taken kinswomen or close neighbours for a second wife.
More often, however, secondary marriage is with a stranger, even someone fairly remote. A middle-aged head of a simple household with young children in Sakaltutan, who lost his wife just before I moved in, replaced her within a week by a stranger, an unmarried girl from a nearby village. He paid T.L.500, which he was compelled to borrow. During 1949-50, he was working as a shepherd, and using his eldest daughter to help with ploughing, in order to earn extra income to meet the debt. Another man Musa (K), lost his third wife in April, but he was very poor, and even strenuous efforts both among kinship contacts and strangers failed to discover a suitable and willing woman at a price he could afford. He spent four miserable months. At first, his married daughters by his first wife came to keep house in turn, but they could not stay more than a few days each because of their own domestic responsibilities, and after this his household was run by a twelve-year-old daughter. His late wife's tiny baby daughter died. In the end, he took a girl who turned out to be almost blind (p. 184). By 1955, after a steady job in the mill (p. 71), he had divorced her and taken an unmarried girl, for a normal bride price.
A widow is not in the same situation. She depends on her husband not for immediate day-to-day tasks but for long-term support - for tilling the fields, for defending her, for making necessary contacts with towns and officials. She may remain in her husband's house, either more or less independently, or under the protection of his or her own father or brothers: or she can return to her own father or brothers. Naturally, what she does depends on her personality, her age, what kin and affines she has, and how they are placed. Quite a number of widows maintain their late husband's households intact, either shouldering the burden of tilling the land, or letting it out to a share-cropper. In this case, a woman needs male kin to protect and help her in her business arrangements, and with some of the toughest jobs in the annual cycle of work. Growing sons are of course a great asset.
One young widow in Elbashï, who had four daughters, had
remained single. She declared herself against husbands, and absolutely independent. But no man would lightly take on a woman who had four times failed to produce a son, not to mention responsibility for the four failres. Hayip (B) (p. 144), her father, farmed her land as a share-cropper, and regarded her as an annexe of his own large household. She certainly relied on him for her outside contacts. An older woman in Sakaltutan, who had married out of the village had lost her husband when her son was an infant, and had returned with him to her father's house, remaining there unmarried. In 1950 she was living in her son's household. One other widow in Sakaltutan and three in Elbashï were bringing up families.
Most marriageable widows remarry. Unless they have a number of children, they are much in demand; and women often remarked that life without a man is hard. They may remarry within the circle of their husband's kin. In the genealogies, widows often married their husband's brother, occasionally polygamously. In two cases, barely adolescent boys had been married to an elder brother's widow, and in one case to mother's brother's widow. Equally, a widow may return to her father, who will arrange for her remarriage. Her children may remain with her husband's kin, or with her own natal household, or may go with her to her new husband, according to circumstances. The villagers are aware that according to the Seriat a child belongs to its father, but should remain with its mother until it is seven, but they seem to attach remarkably little importance to formal rights in this matter. This is understandable. No one wants daughters, and other people's sons, even a brother's, are a limited asset. They are likely to cause trouble over inheritance, and in any case to leave the household at their most useful point - at marriage, when their labour, their children, and their obedience should serve to build a joint household.
Polygamy is still socially acceptable. Successful polygamy is a source of prestige, but it is also a frequent subject for jokes, and a polygamist is close to ridicule. It appears to be becoming rarer. It is not of course legal, and polygamous marriages are never registered with the State. Only four cases existed in Sakaltutan. I know only one man with a healthy and fertile first wife who
had taken a normal marriageable woman as a second. He was a well-to-do man of another village, who presumably had wanted to enlarge his household with more sons. In all other cases, except for two in Elbashï on which I have no information, some special reason existed for the second marriage.
The commonest reason for taking in a second wife is the inability of the first to produce surviving male children. A man without male heirs is expected to take another wife, with or without divorcing the first. Even when a first wife has had children, but can have no more, a second wife is quite justified. Secondly, a first wife might be incapable of doing her duty. One man seriously considered taking a second wife because his first was crippled with rheumatism; instead he married his fifteen-year-old son to his sister's daughter of about seventeen. Two men in Sakaltutan and at least two in Elbashï had been married to widows much their senior. Each had married in middle-age a younger woman, in order to continue their procreative life.
Thirdly, polygamy is sometimes the result of widow-inheritance by brothers. A man is said to be the most suitable stepfather to his brother's children. Moreover, his brother's land is felt to belong to the agnatic group, and adjoins his own. Left to her own devices, the widow might marry a stranger, who would take over the land, and might even disinherit his stepsons. It is far better for the dead husband's brother to take over, temporarily adding the land to his own, and if any disinheriting is to take place, to make sure he benefits by it; in the past, it seems, orphans very frequently lost their land, often to their fathers' brothers.
Elbashï provides a most interesting example of the possible complexity of such arrangements. Sefer, an old man in 1951, had married first his elder brother's widow, after she had borne two sons, Hashim and Shevket. She then bore Sefer himself another son, Ahmet. Hashim and Shevket were thus maternal half-brothers and also father's brother's sons to Ahmet. Sefer, about 1939, had also married his younger brother's widow, who already had one daughter, Ayshe. Sefer married his own son Ahmet to this niece-cum-stepdaughter. At some point, Hashim had separated from this household, taking with him his own wife, who was his father's sister's daughter from another village,
his full brother Shevket and his mother. His eldest son was fifteen in 1951. Quite recently Ahmet ha died, and after a delay, Hashim had married Ayshe in his place. Thus both Sefer and Hashim were bigamously married, both had married brother's widows, and each had a wife living in the other's household. Both households owned land, and since Sefer was old, Hashim was likely to end up in control of all the property of both households. The only cloud on his immediate horizon was the strenuous opposition of his first wife to his second marriage; she now only had him at home on alternate nights. But more serious disputes are likely in the long run. How will the whole estate eventually be divided between Hashim, his full brother Shevket who shared his household, their children, and his deceased half-brother Ahmet's children?
Hashim visited his second wife in her own house. In this, he constituted the only contemporary example - and an exceptional one - of a fourth type of polygamy. In the past, a man might contract a marriage with a widow who had her own established household, and visit her at night. She would thus take turns with his existing wife - or wives. Three old women in Sakaltutan were widows of the same man, two of them had maintained their own independent households as widows. In cases like this a polygamous remarriage seems to be a matter of convenience. The woman gains help and protection, but retains a good deal of independence; the man gains temporary control over more resources, and the chance of begetting more sons, without the expense and inconvenience of keeping two wives in one household on one holding of land. Three wives at a time appears to be very rare. Two men in Elbashï, one dead and one still living, were said to have had three at one time. I heard tell of a man in a distant village who had four.
The villagers often speak of the religious injunction to treat all wives exactly equally. The only man in Sakaltutan with two young wives boasted of the care with which he had carried out this rule. But normally the villagers laugh, because they recognise that in most cases such equality of treatment is out of the question.
*Genealogy: Sefer and Hashim
The Range of Marriage: Kinship
I have already discussed the choice of bride from the point of view of the chooser. Let us now look at the results of these choices, that is at the actual marriages which I was able to record. My data are incomplete, but such as they are they are set out in the accompanying tables. For the most part they speak for themselves.
Some interesting conclusions emerge. More than half the marriages are between people with some kinship ties. Marriages with recognised agnates seem to be between one-fifth and one-quarter of all marriages, but actual father's brother's daughter marriages are only about one in ten. Marriages with other cousins are only a little less common, although no preference other than that for father's brother's daughter marriage are ever stated. The noticeably lower figures in both villages for mother's sister's daughter marriages are surprising. They perhaps reflect the frequent physical separation of sisters after marriage, or perhaps more the relative absence of social contact between the husbands. Less strikingly, mother's brother's daughter marriages seem a little more numerous than father's sister's daughter marriages. This difference may be accidental, but there is a possible explanation. People may prefer, if the choice is open, to bring together as mother-in-law and daughter-in-law a woman and her brother's child,, rather than a woman and her husband's sister's child, to whom she is less close and with whom she does not share a common domestic tradition.
Since the two villages were twenty miles apart, and differed in size, wealth and degree of outside contact, the similarity in pattern is striking. My inquiries and discussions in other villages confirm that these tables present an overall picture typical at least of this area.
The Range of Marriage: Distance
Tables 10 and 11 (Appendix A) show for each of the two villages the number of village born wives, and the number who came from or went to other communities. The data was gathered as opportunity offered. On contemporary marriages in Sakaltutan, it is virtually complete, but on women marrying out, some
1. These tables give a good indication of magnitudes but are not reliable in detail. The census material on which they are based was collected, deliberately, as opportunity offered, and the results are incomplete and may contain a few inaccuracies.
2. The sample is haphazard, since I used any sources open to me to augment information, including occasionally deduction. In Sakaltutan, I was able to work out that some marriages were between close kin, and I am fairly sure that I missed no marriages between agnates. Of the marriages on which I have no recorded information about the kinship relationship of husband and wife, most, therefore, are likely to be between non-kin, and very few, if any at all, between agnates. For this reason, I have given the proportion of marriages between various types of kin both as percentages of all recorded marriages (column a), and as percentages of all marriages on which I have definite information (column b). For marriages, between agnates, column (a) is reliable; for other marriages the truth lies between the two figures.
For the cases of girls marrying out of Sakaltutan, and for all marriages in Elbasl, my information on the kinship network of the individuals was far less complete, and hence the cases on which I happen to have recorded information are less likely to represent a biased sample. I have not therefore given both sets of percentages in these cases.
3. Figures for marriages of women of the two villages who married out are not typical of figures for all marriagesóthey form a highly biased sample. To add them on to the figures for internal marriages would be to bias the overall total. In particular, the number of marriages with non-kin between villages is obviously likely to be higher than within the village; and the marriages with agnates between villages are almost non-existent. The class of marriages between spouses from different villages is already fully represented by the cases where spouses have married in. The last column is therefore only for overall totals and is otherwise left blank.
4. Since women normally attempt to use the full span of their fertility, even the children of one mother may differ widely in age. Since elderly widowers or divorces frequently re-marry, paternal half-siblings differ even more widely - up to forty years. Hence marriages between cousins of different generations is not uncommon. First cousins once removed I have counted as second cousins, and second cousins once removed as other agnates or kin. The difference of generation may have no effect on the quality of the relationship.
5. Affines include all cases where a link through an existing marriage was part of the chain, from cases where people married brothers or sisters-in-law, to cases of much more remote connection.
6. The category 'kin' includes both cases of known kinship more remote than those specifically mentioned, and cases where I knew that a kinship tie existed but could not make a reliable guess at its nature.
omissions are inevitable, and I did not always ask if they were still alive, - hence the words `presumed living' and `presumed dead' in Table 10the totals, it appears that Sakaltutan had a net export of women, and Elbashï a net import, but this interesting conclusion is doubtful.
In the two diagrams (Figs. 10 and 11) based on these tables, each line represents one village. They show how marriages linking villages decline in number with distance, and virtually cease above five to six hours away.
*Range of marriage: Sakaltutan
On Fig. I0, it appears that in Sakaltutan in the past, only half the marriages were within the village, whereas now the figure is two-thirds. Possibly the rising population offers a greater choice of brides within the village. In Elbashï on the other hand, a larger village in the first place, the proportion has remained more or less constant at just over half.
Sakaltutan men had recruited very few wives from distant sources. One man had taken a young second wife from a group of tribally distinct villages (Avshar) some eight hours to the east. One old woman in the village was said to have been an Armenian refugee. Only one girl marrying out had gone to any distance, to a village beyond Kayseri, said to have been founded about 1870 by a migration from villages near Sakaltutan.
With these exceptions almost all marriages were within the range of five hours' walking distance, and roughly, the closer the villages the more numerous the marriages between them. For Sakaltutan the two villages within half an hour provided strikingly more than any others. But for remoter villages once close contact is established further marriages may result. For example, Sakaltutan and Kölete, to which agnates of a village lineage (K) had moved two generations before, were tied by more marriages than other closer pairs of villages (Fig. 2).
West of Sakaltutan lay a group of villages whose marriage customs were based on those of Kayseri. These villages contained some people of more education and they spoke scornfully of the area round Sakaltutan as köy, village. Their women were more formally polite, and expected more comfort and less hard work. No respectable family in these villages would permit a girl to marry to the köy, and no woman would consent to such a drop in standards. Hence marriage ties with these villages are very rare, and where they occur, they consist either of marriages with less respectable women from these villages (there are no recent instances of this), or of cases where men of Sakaltutan had moved to their wives' village. Such marriages do not result in active affinal relations.
The distribution chart for Elbashï is less tidy. A few households are more sophisticated and wealthy than any in Sakaltutan. These, and also a few of the poorer households with portering or other connections with Kayseri, contracted marriages further afield than any people in Sakaltutan. The fifteen refugee households from eastern Turkey, beginning with no established local social links, and no resources, had to find wives as best they could. Once again we find cases of a concentration on a particular village resulting from one or two socially close ties. One household alone in the last two generations accounted for six marriages with Söksün (Fig. 2).
*Range of marriage: Elbashi
But the general picture, with over half the marriages within the village, and most of the rest to places within a few hours' walk, is much the same as that for Sakaltutan. Once again evidence from the surrounding villages indicate that this picture is typical.
The Range of Marriage: Social Rank
Marriage is not explicitly linked to any notions of relative social rank. A man owes his wife's parents personal respect because they have, by consenting to give him their daughter, done him a very great favour. People may marry across differences of rank; in particular a man may take a woman who is his inferior without incurring shame or ridicule. But normally, especially if a full-scale wedding is to be held, the two sides have to agree on terms, and this requires some degree of equality of resources.
Two weddings in Sakaltutan, while I was there, involved a comparatively prosperous household in an alliance with a poor one, but in both cases the girl's father, though poor because of the dividing of the land, was treated as respectable and an equal by the majority of the villagers.
In view of the rapidity with which a household could in the past gain or lose land, and the ease nowadays with which a household can acquire cash by skilled wage-earning, it is not surprising that some existing affinal connections bridge very considerable gaps in the present social hierarchy. But though leading households were sometimes tied to middling ones, and middling households to very poor ones, no direct affinal links existed even in Sakaltutan between the top and the bottom.
For marriages outside the village, considerations of relative rank are more complex. Some men, especially when forced to obtain a replacement wife without ready resources, are not concerned with her standing in her own village. Moreover, a few men had obtained wives by elopement, or cheaply in other ways, and most of these came from outside. On the other hand, those few households which obtained and sought to retain leading positions in the village often intermarried with similarly powerful households in other villages.
Marriages to towns - or for small villages, to more sophisticated villages-are rare. Women very seldom marry down across community frontiers, respectable women never. But village girls may go to town. While we were in Elbashï one girl of refugee family married, by arrangement through kin, a young Istanbul architect. In another case, a village woman's sister was married to a judge. Plainly, influential affines are useful and bring prestige; but they are rare.
Law and Sanctions in Marriage
In all societies, marriage involves rights and duties which are sanctioned by reciprocity, by self-help, and by public morality and opinion. In societies in which centralised states exist, the central government usually takes formal note of the establishing of a marriage, and provides formal sanctions and judicial machinery. In a great many societies - the Turkish educated urban class, for example - public morality accepts the State formality and the two sets of sanction more or less complement each other. But in some cases, a formal State procedure may not be accepted by the local community, and the formal sanctions which support it fail to have any effect at all.
The Turkish Civil Code of 1928 lays down the procedure for registering marriage. The couple must establish their identity by the production of valid birth certificates, they must submit to a medical examination, and the marriage must be registered by the appropriate official. Divorce by a court is not difficult to obtain, except in so far as anything involving lawyers and courts is always difficult. The Civil Code completely replaced Islamic law, so that all religious ceremonies are legally irrelevant.
But to the villagers it is the Civil Code which is irrelevant. They do not regard people who have been through a civil ceremony as married, they never have recourse to courts for settling disputes over the rights and duties of spouses, and nowhere in Turkey did I find a villager who had divorced a wife by legal process. Officials bring pressure to register first marriages which are celebrated with conspicuous weddings, and if any kind of welfare rights - marriage allowances, for example - are involved, then the villagers register their marriages cheerfully. But whether they do so or not makes not the slightest difference to their view of the morality of a union. To them, registration is not a rite within their system, but a meaningless piece of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo.
Legitimacy for the villages still rests solely on the nikah, the religious rite performed by anyone of sufficient religious learning to know the formula. They claim to marry according to the Seriat, and to regulate the rights and duties of spouses accordingly. In fact, they do not do so, not even to the point of their own knowledge of Islamic Law.
According to Islamic law, a man may divorce a woman by pronouncing any words of repudiation or dismissal. He may recall her twice, but if the words are repeated three times, he may not marry her again unless she has in the meantime been married to someone else. Normally, a man divorcing a woman repeats the words three times on the spot to make sure. Once a woman is divorced under Islamic Law, she should wait a period of one hundred days - iddet - before marrying again, or if she is pregnant, until forty days after she has borne the child. All this the villagers know. They claim to practice this system of divorce. Yet they do not in actual instances bother whether a woman separated from her husband has been formally divorced or not, and I never heard of anyone refraining from marriage because of the iddet. When I raised this issue, they asked `And who will cook bread and take care of the children while we wait?'
Nowadays no one adjudicates disputes according to the Islamic law. No formal pressure exists which can coerce a man, and thus the whole system rests on the built-in sanctions of reciprocity, self-help and public opinion. Before 1926, courts did exist which enforced a code based on the Sheriat. Before such a court it was even possible, on very limited grounds, for a woman to obtain a divorce from her husband.
So long as formal sanctions existed for breaches of the rules formal sanctions which carried the authority of both State and Prophet - it was in theory possible to enforce one's rights. In practice, it is obvious that large areas of the society of the Ottoman Empire - most rural and tribal areas - must have fallen outside the direct influence of the courts and made little if any use of them. I cannot therefore decide whether the present disregard for the Islamic rules, and certain abuses arising from this disregard, were normal in these villages in pre-Republican Turkey. Perhaps people in the villages always ignored the Sheriat when it suited their book. But I suspect that so long as people believed that the rules they recognised were the same as those enforced by urban courts, at the very least, these rules would carry more weight and be more effectively sanctioned by informal local sanctions. If I am right, then in this type of area, Ataturk's reforms have so far increased disorder in marital relationships.
The sanctions which in fact hold spouses together and en-
*The punching dance. The men take turns to be punched. (p. 128-3)
*A wedding prank: above the victim is a dead dog and a small boy armed with green paint. (p.182)
*A guest of honour beside the walled up hearth of a guest room. As it is summer, the seat of honour has returned to its traditional place. In winter it is by the stove. (p.238)
p. 26). In a further five cases the divorced woman was a secondary wife. In one of these five cases the cause of divorce
*Village election. A committee of villagers supervises the election official, who is a townsman and a stranger. (p259)
force their duties are reciprocity, self-help and public opinion. The way these work in detail will be largely implied in the discussion of adultery and divorce which follows. By reciprocity, I mean the mutual dependence and in some casesaffection between man and wife, and between the couple and the two sets of close kin. By self-help, I mean the use of violence to defend honour and to avenge disgrace. By public opinion, I mean the concern with family reputation and the pressure thus exercised by the community towards conformity with the rules recognised by a consensus of village opinion. The first of these depends on the personal relations between the spouses; the second and third depend on the degree of each family's concern with its honour, and are more effective for those who lay claim to respectability and probity; less effective for those with no pretensions who accept a place at the bottom of the village hierarchy.
Self-help is the recourse of any man whose honour has been tarnished by an approach to or insulting of his women folk. The most serious case is adultery. A wronged husband is expected to kill lover and delinquent wife. A man released from gaol in 1950 under an amnesty was greeted and presented to me as a hero because he had done just this. Clearly, the successful execution of this duty requires arms, courage and strong feelings. Not every adulterer is killed, nor does every husband wronged in this way attempt double murder. One man in Sakaltutan had divorced a wife for adultery without violence; and one woman in each village was said to be a runaway wife from elsewhere, with no mention of violence. Nevertheless, the danger is genuine.
People have obvious motives for keeping their own adultery a close secret, and equally obvious motives for concealing known cases from an outsider. Nevertheless, some people also have reasons for denigrating their neighbours, and others are at times indiscreet. I am confident that adultery was in fact rare. This is the more remarkable because some wives are left alone for months, even years. Thus two young wives in Sakaltutan, sharing a household because their husbands were brothers, lived by themselves with their young children. One husband had been away for four years, and the other for one. All questions about the wives were met with the standard answer that adultery was unthinkable, and that it involved the risk of death or at least being run out of the village. In another case, a younger brother was sharing a not very adequate house with his absent brother's wife, yet all questions met an equally steady front of denial. Not even the women, who are much less concerned about preserving the village reputation, breathed a word of scandal to us about either of these two cases.
Scandals about married women do of course occur. After I had left Sakaltutan, two lineages accused each other of making approaches to their own young wives, and this quarrel led to two deaths and one serious injury. On one occasion in Elbashï a child's reported claim to have witnessed a married woman with a lover behind a wall in a field was discussed and rejected as a priori highly improbable, and, in the light of relations between accuser's parents and the people accused, likely to be a malicious fabrication.
The Definition and Measurement of Divorce
In theory, a village marriage is dissolved in village eyes by the husband dismissing the wife, according to the Sheriat. Village informants told me that witnesses were required, though strictly they are not (Vesey-Fitzgerald (1931) p 73). But in specific cases, people do not discuss the formal validity of a divorce. Indeed, the village has no distinct words for the `separation' of married partners and `divorce', the complete ending of all rights and duties. In most cases, separation constitutes divorce, and in those cases where a couple are regarded as still married though separate, it may be necessary to state this circumstance in full to make the situation clear.
The procedure is as simple as it can be. If a man is dissatisfied, he expels his wife, and she returns to her nearest living male kinsman, normally her father. If a wife is dissatisfied, she simply goes home. Quarrels between spouses are often complex, and it may not be clear who is responsible for a separation.
What happens next depends on circumstances. I have not been able to make a reliable count of cases, but village in-
formants regard marital quarrels as normal, and usually solved by reconciliation. A man with a household full of children and no aternative woman will sue for peace quickly, by coming to fetch his wife back. No one would ask awkward questions about the legal propriety of remarriage even after a full tripledeclared divorce. If the woman and her kin wished to end the marriage she would refuse to return, divorce or no divorce. Short-lived separations are dealt with as rapidly and as secretly as possible.
Married women who are separated from their husbands are often in a sort of limbo between marriage and non-marriage. One old woman in Sakaltutan and two in Elbashï were living apart from their current husbands with sons who had separated from their father's household. In all three cases, the husband had another wife living with him. All these were regarded as married to their husbands, and were too old to be of interest to widowers and divorcés. One widow in Sakaltutan had two children by her first husband, and maintained a separate household in her father's house, apart from her second husband, who was her first husband's brother. They were not on speaking terms, but she refused offers of marriage from others and by 1952 had become reconciled and returned to her husband. Another girl newly married left her husband for some weeks and was still separate when we left, but people assumed this case to be normal and thus certain to end in reconciliation. No other married women were living alone to my knowledge during my field work. I heard of one or two similar cases in other villages.
If a dissatisfied wife cannot return home, either because she is not acceptable there, or because she has no home to which to return, then clearly she is in a difficult position. One unfortunate man in Elbashï had lost two wives through suicide, of whom the more recent at least took her life because her father had sent her to the man against her will, and she could neither stand him nor return home. Another girl who eloped to escape from an intolerable stepmother only to find that her mother-in-law was just as intolerable, attempted unsuccessfully to drown herself p 193). The only way out is to find a man willing to take her as a wife. Her husband might, in theory, attempt violence, but a woman knows the eriousness of the risk, and she will always move to another village. In such cases, the new
couple would normally have a technically invalid nikah performed, and be accepted as married though with some loss of face for all concerned.
In this society, then, a divorce is any separation which terminates a marriage. Whether or not a given marriage has terminated is not always easy to decide. If either party has firmly declared it to be so, or shown a definite intention to marry someone else, then it is terminated. But any eligible woman living apart from her husband is likely to be sought as a wife by widowers and divorces.
Apart from the problem of definition, measures of divorce which could be used for comparison with other societies would require data collected with a systematic care that I cannot retrospectively apply. Barnes (1949) makes clear the practical and statistical complications; and as he says (p. 58) `it (divorce) is a social process which has many aspects, some of which we can measure and some we cannot'. I therefore simply give such data as I have in some detail.
Cases and Causes of Divorce
I knew of roughly 450 marriages in each village, past and present. Whereas in Elbashï I recorded only eight specific cases of divorce, in Sakaltutan, where I was able to gather much more detail, I recorded twenty-six. Besides these I assume plausibly but arbitrarily that one other man, who had nine wives altogether, had divorced at least two of them; this makes twenty-eight in all.
I have more reliable figures for the marital histories of living husbands in Sakaltutan. Including the presumed case just mentioned, of 129 living husbands, eleven had been involved in fourteen divorces; of these nine had divorced one wife each, one three, and one probably at least two. These 129 living husbands had married 178 wives, of whom only 132 were still current wives, so that forty-six marriages had therefore terminated, of which at least fourteen had terminated in divorce; but a large majority of the 132 current marriages were extremely unlikely to end in divorce.
It is probable that a more careful enquiry into the marital histories of these husbands might have revealed one or two more
divorces; it is also true that some of the current marriages would probably end in divorce. Indeed by 1955 one had done so Even so the divorce rate does not strike me as high, and I would describe marriage as stable.
An analysis of the circumstances of divorce in the Sakaltutan cases confirms this impression. Of the twenty-eight cases, five did not directly involve men of the village. One rather slow-witted young girl had returned home from four different attempts to marry her off and was rather precariously married for the fifth time while I was in the village. One wife imported into the village had apparently walked out on a previous husband in another village. Seven of the twenty-eight cases involved deceased men of the village, six being accounted for by the marital histories of two of these, who were not regarded as altogether reputable. Two other cases involved living men born in Sakaltutan who had migrated with their Sakaltutan-born first wives to marry bigamously more sophisticated second wives in villages nearer Kayseri. In both cases the first wife had returned home and married someone else.
Of the fourteen cases which involved resident men of Sakaltutan, two are guesses, as I have said. Of the twelve better established cases five wives had been divorced because they failed to produce sons, three in succession by Haci Osman (H) (
DIVORCE CASES IN SAKALTUTAN
|129 married men, 132 married women
Poor girl running home
Women leaving for her natal village
Deceased men. Divorce of replacement wife
Deceased men. Unknown causes
Failure to produce male children
Replacement divorces (including one for
alleged adultery and two guesses)
Men leaving the village for bigamous unions
Co-wife deserting bigamous household
was straightforward - the wife was reported to have committed adultery during her husband's absence on military service. In one of the two remaining cases out of the twelve, one of two co-wives simply left her husband (p. 219). In the other case a mn took in his brother's widow, and after a year his first wife deserted him for a man in another village.
It is striking that in no single case did a normal fruitful first marriage end in divorce, except for the case where a brother's widow was introduced as a co-wife. One recently married young couple were apart when I left the village, but it is safe to predict that they were reconciled later. The weight of evidence from gathered impression, and discussions in this and the neighbouring villages, supports the conclusion that if a marriage is traditionally solemnised and fruitful, it is highly probable that it will not end in divorce unless the household runs into untoward difficulties.
This stability is not surprising. The sanctions holding a couple together are strong although they vary in kind. No young people expect to be able to choose a partner, and normally parents do not force a marriage against strong resistance, so that most first marriages are between people who know each other although only superficially, and have no strong feelings either way. The public ceremonial of the wedding involves them in acceptance, and in exposure to ridicule if they desert immediately. In addition, all concerned, both households, their kin and neighbours have invested considerable effort, money and public commitment in the marriage, so that the couple are under strong pressure to remain together. At the beginning they have no joint responsibility since the running of the household is the affair of their elders, and they therefore have no occasion for contact by day; they are not allowed to have any intimate contact except in strict privacy, and privacy by day is non-existent. The girl is under great strain at this point, not so much because of her relations with her husband but because her whole way of life has been disrupted. She may desert, but the pressures on both sides against a permanent breach will soon force her back. She herself wants a child as much as everyone else concerned, and this gives her another motive for enduring.
In time the new bride adjusts and mutual dependence begins to develop. Once children arrive successfully they form strong
anchors since both husband and wife are dependent for their future happiness and status on a thriving family. Slowly the youg couple take on more and more responsibility for their own affairs until they establish an independent household. By this time reciprocity becomes the main sanction; each has more to lose than to gain by deserting the other, and they are united by the bonds of habit and common interests, and maybe even by affection. Public shame remains a sanction. Although a man can send a woman home whenever he likes, to do so without a good reason is both shameful, ayip, and a sin, günah. People even try to avoid publicity for their quarrels, though in a village this is all but impossible.
These sanctions hold only so long as the wife carries out her duties satisfactorily. She must preserve her honour; she must do her share of household work, and she must bear sons. Failure in any of these duties destroys the reciprocity between her and her spouse, and removes the sanction of public opinion since he becomes justified in seeking to replace her. Sullied honour is in fact seldom a ground for divorce. A wronged husband should not divorce but kill. I knew of only one case, in another village, of a first wife divorced for adultery. Equally divorce for inefficiency is rare. One man of Elbashï divorced a wife because she went blind. More often a wife unable to work would be retained and supported either by a second wife or by a daughter-in-law. The failure to produce sons is a far commoner ground for the termination of a first marriage. Indeed a man is expected to take steps to ensure that he begets sons. He may of course take a second wife without divorcing his first, and if feasible this is in fact regarded as a better solution.
In Sakaltutan three men had divorced their wives for not producing sons, two of them one wife each, and one of them three. Two other men without sons had taken no steps and were extremely unlikely to do so, both being poor and old. A third man with one daughter had had two wives; he was old and sick, and clearly had no intention of making any further effort to beget. In two other cases the husband had taken a second wife without divorcing the first; one of these had deserted, leaving her son behind for her childless co-wife. Besides these, one man with a fairly long standing marriage had no children but clearly still had time to remedy the situation. No
fewer than thirty-six other marriages lacked male offspring, ranging from newly-weds to marriage of a few years standing. In all of these there were still reasonable grounds for hope.
To sum up: of 129 living husbands nine had apparently faced the probability or certainty of having no sons by their current wife. Of these three had had recourse to divorce, two to bigamy and four had taken no steps at all though one was still likely to do so. Thirty-six marriages, including two remarriages after divorce, had still grounds for hope. The rest, eighty-six, had sons. These include cases where a man had had two wives, because the first had died, but sons by only one. We can then say that roughly nine-tenths of men achieve male heirs either by their first marriage or by wives married as replacements when their first dies. Of the remaining tenth some divorce and remarry, more than once if necessary, some marry polygamously, and some take no action at all.
The stability of secondary and replacement marriages is markedly less. Of thirty-eight recorded, four ended in divorce, that is about one in ten. The reasons are not difficult to understand. The same grounds for divorce still hold, but the additional one of personal incompatibility is added. By definition at least one partner in a secondary marriage has been married before. Very commonly a bereaved widower is bringing a woman of whom he knows little into a functioning household which she has to take over and run. They have no time for gradual adjustment to each other's idiosyncracies. True, in a culturally homogeneous society the possible differences in household routine are limited, but even so it would be surprising if there were not a multitude of small frictions between the man and his new housekeeper and bedfellow, and between her and her predecessor's children.
Among secondary marriages there are also a number of special cases. Sterile men are likely to try a number of wives before they give up hope of producing children. Some of those who have abandoned or divorced spouses have already lost their honour, or most of it, and are not subject to the pressure of public opinion. Some of the wives available for replacement are available precisely because they have already proved unsatisfactory. The girl who had deserted four husbands by the age of twenty is an extreme example.
The dependence of stability in marriage on sanctions is illustrated by a particular abuse of which I came across several examples. Women normally pay routine visits to their natal home. In a number of instances, including one wife in each village in which I worked, the wife's father simply took advantage of such a visit to marry his daughter to someone else. He collected a bride price, and sent little or no trousseau, so he was certainly in pocket. In all the cases of which I heard people denied that there had been any kind of quarrel and the husbands declared themselves surprised, defrauded, and angry.
In the Sakaltutan case the wife in question was the second of two coeval wives, brought in with the active help of the barren first wife; she had borne a son. She herself was the only literate woman in the village, and coming from the nahiye centre to which Sakaltutan had previously belonged, regarded the village as uncivilised. In spite of his public indignation, the husband was left with his first wife, a less quarrelsome and expensive home, and a son, so he did not suffer unduly.
In all the other cases the wife was already herself a widow or divorcee before the marriage which she thus abandoned. I have no means of knowing whether the initiative came from unhappy wives or greedy fathers. One man had done this twice with the same daughter, and my informant unequivocally blamed his greed.
In all cases of this type the normal sanctions were more or less inoperative. The three households concerned, those of the two husbands and the woman's father, were separated by considerable physical and social distance, so that gossip in the first husband's village was a matter of indifference to the father and the new husband. Violence was not attempted, partly perhaps because in these cases honour was no longer pristine, but mainly because an attempt to use force in a strange village would be suicidal. The marriages had been arranged to provide a replacement, primarily a housekeeper, and the affinal link between husband and father-in-law was socially unimportant. The wronged husbands had no remedy.
These cases are perhaps more remarkable for their rarity than for their occurrence. They are only possible because when the normal built-in sanctions fail, the formal system can provide no alternative; its rules and institution are irrelevant.
The stability of marriage, then, depends entirely on sanctions built into the local community, and is totally unaffected by the State laws. For fruitful, honourably celebrated first marriages these are effective, and the divorce rate almost nil. Failure by the wife to fulfil her duties does give respectable grounds for divorce, the commonest and most pressing grounds being failure to bear and rear sons. Misconduct in such marriages is apparently extremely rare. Owing to the relatively high death rate, and to a few justified divorces, secondary marriages form a considerable proportion of all marriages. Among the more respectable of these divorce is still rare but among a minority whose marriage was less honourable in the first place, or who were forced to contract a secondary marriage at very short notice, divorce is commoner, and cases of this kind account for a considerable part of the relatively modest total of divorces.
Since no formal procedure, enforced by higher authority, is recognised, nothing can prevent a couple performing a religious nikah, even if in strict Islamic law they are not permitted to do so, so that no one in the villages lives in a state of concubinage. All unions are marriages in village eyes.