OF THE CUSTOMS THAT ARE PRACTICED FROM THE BETROTHAL UNTIL THE WEDDING IN THE TIGRE COUNTRIES.
And the friends of the groom lift up the bride and the dowry and some of it they put on mules; and singing the hoyra they depart. The friends of the bride accompany her playing the barrel-drum and dancing, and they speak thus: *Sanoy, my friend, fare thou well! Thou art a girl, a girl, whose mother is friendship (?). Thou art a girl of the whip(?) of Sero." ') Finally they kiss her and go back. And when the procession has departed from the village, they mount the bride on a mule, and the best friend of her [groom] rides with her and holds her. But she is entirely wrapped up and keeps silent. And if on their journey the evening overtakes them, they pass the night at some village. And they let the bride and the groom, each one of them, pass the night in the house of a first wife. The bride does not eat or drink on the way, she refuses haughtily. The best friend, on the other hand, says: a By herself she shall not be thirsty and hungry!", and he refuses like her to eat and to drink. When the pro- cession has come near the village of the groom, they dance and sing the hoyra. And the girls of their village come to meet them beating the barrel-drum and clapping their hands and dancing to this song:
"Our luck, the bride, has come to us. Our luck, the ornament, has come to us. Thus God has given thee to enter the village of these people. Their village is a village of gold; their hair-arrow is of silver." 2 )
The women give the shout of joy, and all the people look on. Thereupon they lead the bride into the bridal tabernacle, which has been built, and they put the leather skirt down for her. And if the procession arrives before the day has turned, 3 ) on the [same] day, otherwise on the next day, they make the groom to sit on a chair at the door of his bridal tabernacle, furthermore they make a boy, the son of a first wife, sit near him on the ground. Then they put sprouting corn and asal in the palm-leaf bowl of the bride and fill it with water. And the groom and the boy take off their clothes and put them down. Thereupon they pour the water on them; and they dress the groom in the cloak that has come with the bride, and having wrapped himself in it he stays in his place. The water is called the asat water ; and the boy is the wadsembel. ') If the groom is a Christian, the priest comes and cuts, with a knife from the family of the groom, some hair of the center of his head and puts it into the water, and then, he pours the water on the groom. And the priest receives the knife and the old cloak of the groom. And whosoever is a relative of the groom comes to him, and he shakes hands with them. They bless him and present a gift to him, cattle or goats, or money, or else fields. After this the groom enters into his bridal tabernacle. And a first wife changes the clothes of the bride and braids her hair.
Thereupon her nurse 2 ) brings her water and food; and she tastes a little without taking much, and continues in this way until her fortieth day. And they give to all those that have gone in the procession beverages to drink, and even to those that have stayed at home they give to drink.
The bride lies down, and two friends [of the groom] seize each other's hands over her neck. Then the groom stepping upon their hands passes over her three times and says: "May .thy neck be soft and may my neck be hard." Afterwards the groom kills a young he-goat or a young ram as a sacrifice. For a Mohammedan the shekh offers the sacrifice. And in the evening the family of the groom cook a large meal of an *ebela of corn and make a sauce of butter and curds with its spices. The friends of the groom eat this, and what they leave over, they return to the house of the mother of the groom. And when they have eaten, they say kesse ') and shout. Moreover, before the meal they drink a keg of beer. They eat and drink in this way until the fifth day, in the evening and in the morning, from the family of the groom. Now those who owe the family some return gift help them and make the meal and the keg [of beer] for them. But if any one of the friends, before entering the bridal tabernacle, sees that the food is cooked in another place or while it is carried, he abstains from it, saying: "I have seen it in another place." The bride is always wrapped up and hidden behind the curtain and is not seen by any- body else except the best friend [of the groom] and the . nurse. The groom and his best friend and the wad-sembel eat together. The groom goes on the same day, after the c asal, wrapped up with his friends down to a river, while his friends sing the hoyra and the musician leads them playing the flute. Then they make the groom to sit at one place, and the wad-sembel seats himself at his feet. And they take off their clothes, and the friends dip water with the palm- leaf bowl and pour it on them seven times. Thereupon they dress them in their clothes. This is called the first asur. And again, the groom and the wad-sembel go down to the water three times. The second time they go down after twenty days: the friends pour water on them with the bowl twice seven, and this is called the second c asur. The third time when they go down, after thirty days, they pour [water] three times seven: this is called the third asur. And at the fourth trip, after fourty days, they pour [water] on them seven times seven : this is called ^arbtfa ') or the fourth c asur. And this is his last time, with which he finishes.
At the first trip they braid the hair of the groom and anoint him with butter from the box of the bride which they have taken down with them. While the groom and his friends are gone, the women make a larger bridal tabernacle and adorn it : they build it at the right side 2 ) of the house of his mother and put branches of the tasas 3 ) tree on it. After that the groom and his friends go out singing the hoyra as before; and they eat and drink as before. But when the day pf their departure, the fifth day, has come, on that day they take an early midday-meal and go out [to bring] fumigating wood of the sarob tree for the bride. And each one of them cuts a stem and carries it, and singing the hoyra they return. And when they have put it down, each one of them chops his stem, and they pile [the pieces] up in the house of the bride: this is for her fumigation every evening, and she makes her vapour-bath from it. On the [same] day [they take] the leather that has come with the bride, and they cut one or two goat-skins, according to the number of the friends, into stripes for the sandal-straps of the friends: then they give each friend a strap. And when they have dined, the friends present their ^essarat : 4 ) each one of them gives a thaler in money or its value [in kind] to the groom. This is called ^essarat. Thereupon each one says: "I go out with so and so!" '), and they leave the house and go away. The best friend, however, kills a cow or a goat for his two best friends, [the groom and the bride], and after having prepared the meat he gives it to them in small portions; and he gives nothing of it to anybody else. But if he has no animal that he might kill, he gives [a little] more money as an ^essarat. Some of the friends sleep with the family of the groom before they leave, but finally they all go away. The wad-sembel, however, and the best friend eat with the groom; and they pass the nights together until the fortieth day comes.
The groom does not leave his house when the sun has set, lest he see the stars or they see him. 2 ) Moreover, if he goes away he does not pass the night at another place, except in case of need. And if the groom has risen when * there is an alarm, he does not go on a robbing excursion ; nor does he go to bring back what has been captured. He does no work. He does not sit in council in order not to hear a wrong judgment or an oath. He does not go with a funeral. If he goes about the wad-sembel follows him always: he does not go by himself. When his fortieth day has come, the groom has his clothes washed at his last trip to the water.
On [t]his last day he rises with the dawn before the birds begin to warble, and he takes off the sword, the whip, the beads, the silver necklace, the bracelet and puts them on the bedstead. Then he goes out and sits down at the council- place. The groom and the bride do not speak to each other for a long time. But when they finally talk to each other for the first time, it is called felenne. ') And the people ask the groom about his telenne threatening him. 2 )
On that day, if the family of the bride lives near, her "mothers," i. e. the women in her father's and her mother's family, take a meal or corn and visit her. Her mother, how- ever, prepares a polenta and having cooked it and made a good butter-sauce, she brings [it]. And this is eaten by the husband of her daughter together with the family of his father, and it is called "the polenta of the fortieth day]." And the women who are with the bride return after having received a meal from the family. The women of her father- in-law's family [take] on that day a small ring of palm- panicles or a ring of lead or a finger-ring of silver [and] put it on [her head] instead of her silver hair-ring until her [first] year is over. And on the same day the bride gives to the wad-sembel and to the boys of her father-in-law's family long neck-chains of beads, to the girls, however, bracelets of different kinds of beads and necklaces [consisting of two strings of alternating long and short beads]. Again on the same day the [women] put gloves on the hands of the bride, in order that her nails may grow long. And she lives in retirement without work for a year, and she does not go down from her bedstead except at the time of the vapour- bath. She talks in a whisper and she calls by knocking. Moreover, the bride does not pronounce the names of her husband, her older brothers-in-law [i. e. brothers of her husband] or of her older sisters-in-law [i. e. sisters of her husband]. Nor does she pronounce the names of her fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law, those of the present and those of former generations. But she calls them after the names of their children *) or by their surnames addressing them in the plural. 2 ) But most times she does not talk to them at all and is not seen by them. Furthermore, if somebody else is called
by the same name as one of them, this [name] is forbidden to her: she addresses [that person] by his surname or after his [first] child or "meksa" 3 ) And to her husband she says, after the name of the wadwaldo (i. e. an adorned head- , support given by the mother-in-law, and called by a proper name), "father of so and so." But afterwards, when they have a child, she says to him "father of such and such" (viz. name of a boy or a girl), and he says to her "mother of such and such." The bride does not do any [hard] work as long as she is in retirement. But she does handi- work on her bedstead : she sews palm-mats, she does patch- work, she sews clothes, she spins, she twists, and she strings pearls. After a year she "turns": the women gather and braid her hair and put a beautiful silver-ring in it with a chain of beads and a silver tube and plates, and they adorn her with a frontlet which her husband has had made for her. Thereupon the women boil dura corn and eat it, and this is called fere. 4 ) After this the bride lives in retirement for another year, if she has a woman that works for her. But if she has not, she begins the entire work of her house- hold on that day, and it is said "She has seized herself."
i) I. e. a girl in marriage and household furniture.
l) Literally: 'reach each other's breast'.
1) I. e. clothes at the betrothal, for which animals are paid back when the
whole gift is handed over.
2) I. e. the beer which is made of the grain, or else milk into which some
grains are put for good luck.
3) I. e. the one brought by the father of the boy.
i) The nose-ring has, at the place of its opening, always round points ;
the ear-ring either round of flattened ends.
1) A large cake of dura bread made only for a festival.
2) Cf. above p. 70.
1) I. e. what follows, viz. putting on trinkets and bathing.
2) Initiations tinctoria. 3) Lawsonia inermis.
1) Boys (and sometimes girls) conclude friendship by giving each other a
small pebble or a grain of dura and swallowing it. These are friends for
ever; everybody has his "best friend" (niazay). If one of them breaks the
friendship, the pebble or the grain is believed to come up his throat and
2) This word was interpreted to me "a bracelet of glossy black material,
made in Arabia." DOZY, Supplement^ s. v., mentions "a mine of hairl glass."
i) Literally: grow plentiful.
1) The Zen tribe who came from Hamasen where they are still quite strong
in Azzen once fought with the Mansa c and were conquered. Since many
of them were killed, the Mansa c agreed to give certain privileges to the Zen
in order to avoid blood-feud. This applies, therefore, only to the Mansa c .
2) I. e. those ot the Abyssinian Mohammedans who do not take alcoholic
3) Because there are usually several weddings at the same time (cf. above
1) It would, of course, be impolite to count the men themselves.
2) I. e. the father and his brothers.
1) Only with the Mansa c .
2) A certain odoriferous herb.
3) This is to indicate symbolically that she should "bridle" her tongue and
stay in her own house as a wife.
i) With the Mansa c only.
1) This is mostly in Tigrifia and partly corrupted. Sanoy and Sero could
not be explained; the translation of the other words is somewhat uncertain.
2) Also these verses are mostly in Tigrina and partly corrupted.
3) I. e. before noon.
1) I. e. "the son of the wedding-gift."
2) Literally "the woman who feeds her."
i) Perhaps "it was good."
1) I. e. "[the] fortieth day]."
2) I. e. as you leave the house.
3) A certain tree of medium hight, not to be found in SCHWEINFURTH,
4) I.e. the present given at this time; literally "Angebinde."
1) Everybody makes a new friend at a wedding.
2) Cf. above p. 60 61.
1) I. e. probably "she spoke to me."
2) They say e. g. "If thou sayest the truth, thou shall find happiness;
if thou sayest a lie, thou shall find misery" or "Thy qeblat (direction of prayer) shall be such and such," i. e. thy religion shall be changed. The
Mohammedan direction of prayer is north, the Christian south ; but the latter
used to be east.
1) I. e. "father of N. N." or "mother of N. N."
2) She says "ye" instead of "thou."
3) Literally "surname," used if one does not want to say the real name.
4) I. e. fruit.
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