« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
nication with each other ;* for it is otherwise incomprehensible how a custom, as bizarre as it is unnatural, and arising from no local necessity, should be merely the result of accident, occurring to two nations inhabiting regions so distant, and separated by a vast ocean.
The inhabitants of Berezov, of Russian extraction, soon learning how little our European costumes are adapted to this rigorous climate, are in the habit, as soon as winter sets in, of adopting the Ostiak dress, and never go out of doors without it. The Russian functionaries are then alone seen perambulating the streets, in their cloaks and furred shubas, to preserve the dignity of their rank; but even they, when going out of town, or on a journey, don the shapeless but more comfortable clothing of the natives. Ladies whom I have seen at evening parties conspicuous for the elegance of their dress, wear in winter the Ostiak costume, both within and out of doors.
* Certain very ancient and undecipherable characters have been found carved on a rock in Southern Siberia, and the very same on a stone in North America. Cottrell's Recollections, p. 72. VOL. II.
I trust this description will suffice to justify my having at the outset compared the streets of Berezov, on the first fall of snow, to a park occupied by a herd of white bears. At first sight, the spectacle rivetted me to the spot, so strange and unearthly did it appear.
Refusal of marriage at church Purchase of wives
Figure of Shaitan and his worship-Priesthood of Shamanism-Their influence, juggleries, and soothsaying—Treatment of women in child-bed-Funeral and laments-Pictures in the church—A black thief
- Integrity of the natives—Cattle in search of pasture-Artificial system of breeding-Instinct of a
Two young Ostiaks, after a twelvemonth's trial of matrimonial life, arrived at Berezov, to be married at church ; and as the young man was an acquaintance of our landlord's, who had had some commercial transactions with him, they put up at his house. I was present at the toilette of the young
bride, who was dressed in a caftan of green cloth, adorned with strings of beads, and jingling plates and bells. Thus attired, she proceeded with the bridegroom to church, where, however, the priest refused to marry them, as the loving couple had actually forgotten their Christian
Neither bridegroom nor bride seemed to be much annoyed at this awkward circumstance, though the latter was visibly approaching the happy state in which she might expect to be entitled to a more dignified name. But without bestowing a moment's thought on the event, or even thinking it worth while to try to remove the obstacles which stood in the way of their legal marriage, they both returned together to their yourta.
It is the custom with the Ostiaks, as well as other wild tribes inhabiting Siberia, to adopt for themselves such names as they like, and by which alone they become known among the people of their tribe.
Such adopted names commonly express some particular quality, or profession of the individual. By these they address each other, and are
are known to the
Russians; while their Christian names are used only in legal acts.*
Marriages among the Ostiaks combine many of the usages of Paganism with those of Chris. tianity, to which a considerable portion of the race has apparently been converted. The destined bridegroom pays the kalim, or required price, for his betrothed to her parents, and considers himself before God and man her husband. He then takes her home as his wife, postponing the marriage ceremony, according to the Christian Church, till a more convenient season. Often many years elapse before this act is accomplished ; and even then it is only on the interference of the ecclesiastical authorities, who are compelled by law to see the Christian ritual enforced, that the ceremony is gone through.
The Ostiaks usually purchase their wives ;
* A parallel instance of religious deception is furnished by some savage tribes in the British possessions in the Eastern Archipelago, who, converted from Bud. dhism to Christianity, adopt their new faith in so far only as it secures them the enjoyment of certain privi. leges; but otherwise they call Christianity “the East India Company's religion.”