Trans Eurasia travel

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Women life

"In the towns a girl had practically nothing to do: she sewed, watched her mother work, and wore the chedra for a year or two before her marriage. She was not taught to write, for fear she might start a correspondence with some man. According to the 'shari'ah', the exegesis of the laws, if a wife did not give due heed to the words of her spouse, he was entitled to beat her. In the country they work in the fields unveiled and lead much freer lives. The 'kalim' which bought a wife could not be less than ten 'dergamofs,' equal to five gold roubles, and the wedding feast cost the whole of it.

"A widow could remarry whom she pleased. Among the Kirghiz she married her brother-in-law in order to keep her possessions in the family.

"They did not go into the mosques, but prayed on tombs and gave money to the Sheikh, the chief mullah. They knew nothing of the simplest medical attentions, and at need consulted only the 'falban' or female shaman, who practised exorcism. Thus the victims of venereal diseases were almost countless.

"Turkestan Solo" by Ella Maillart