By Fazal Amin Beg
This interesting paper (within socio-cultural anthropology) is extracted out of my consistent and focused field study of over one month in 2000 (18 years ago), which was part of my M. Phil Dissertation that aimed to explore, describe and interpret the “Chinese Wakhi Marriage System.” The research locale was the Tashkurghan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang with special focus on the Wakhi community of Dafdor, a settlement across the border from Pakistan in Hunza Valley.
The data of this paper mainly depends on the primary source, though some secondary sources were also consulted. The primary data were gathered during one-month’s stay (November 2000) of the author in Tashkurghan. The tools and techniques used for the data collection were participant observation, general, covert and overt discussions on the topic, structured interviews (open-ended), photography and watching the video films on the Wakhi wedding.
The paper will provide an opportunity to the related stakeholders to look behind and take it as a reference point to measure the changes occurred by now (June 2018) among the Wakhi community of China in particular and others in general. Among other aspects, a genuine and comparative documentary on Chinese Wakhi Tajik marriage system could also be produced out of my original contribution on the community spanning over almost two decades.
Concepts and Contexts
The Wakhi community considers marriage as a sacred relationship, which brings heavy responsibilities upon the life-partners. This enables the mates to regulate sex and procreate children, makes the life partners loyal and sincere to one another, upgrades the social status of these mates, and transfers the assets of inheritance, in kinds and values, to his offspring, especially sons. The children ultimately care of one’s parents till their last breath and also take responsibility of their other immediately closed kin.
There are different types of marriages among the Wakhi community. One type of marriage is the traditionally arranged one, which is proposed and arranged either by the parents or any immediate kin provided that the parents are not alive or otherwise. Second type of marriage is the marriage of consent wherein consents of either of the bride’s or groom’s or both may have been taken by the parents or other closed kin. Under this type, the sub-types are the haqdor, levirate, and also the sorrorate marriages. The final type of marriage is the love marriage that both the life partners have got understanding with each other and do not care for the parents consent. The Chinese marriage law has protected this type of marriage. Previously, polygyny and collateral marriages were in practice among the Wakhi community, but after promulgation of the Chinese law, these types of marriages were prohibited and they are not practiced.
The Chinese Wakhi Marriage System is comprised mainly of three parts: Pre-Wedding Ceremony, Wedding Ceremony, and Post Wedding Ceremony. Pre-wedding Ceremony consists of life-mate selection, whether by choice of the boy or parents or both; or on the other it may be interpreted as the love marriage, parental arrangement. The perception of people, especially the youth, vis-à-vis mate-selection and the influence of witchcraft have also been taken into accounts. In addition, the impact of the Chinese Marriage Law promulgated in 1980s has also been seen that how that has its effects upon the lives of these people. After the crucial stage of decision in selecting a mate, the ceremonies at specific and broader scales like Qdadori, and Rimol tr Sar, have also been explored and narrated.
The major part of the Chinese Wakhi Marriage System is Wedding Ceremony that consists of the preparations for wedding ranging from the counselling between the two-affinal kin, the cooking for couple of days. The opening day, called as Xfav e Rwor, is dedicated for the Deceased Families and paying one’s sympathy with them. The second day, Khudiv e Rwor, is for the Kin and Kith who come from nearby and flung areas to participate in the wedding. Thus, the third day, called as Lup Tuy, Principal Wedding, is for the wedlock wherein both the bride and bridegroom get together for the first time
The third part of the marriage is Post-Wedding Ceremony, which is called as Nori e Rasm. The virginity test of the bride by the groom has also been analysed from the scientific as well as cultural perspectives. The paper , thus, comes to an end.
A Brief Orientation with the Wakhis
The Wakhis are one of the ancient peoples, thought as the homoalpinus, who belong the Old Eastern Iranian group of people and fits within the Old Eastern Iranian Languages of Indo-European Languages’ Family. The Wakhis are traditionally the agro-pastoralist, and these days in addition to their old traditional occupations, many Wakhis are also engaged in services, both at public sectors and private, and businesses in their concerned states. The Wakhi community live in four contiguous countries: two socialist and two Islamic that include People’s Republic of China and Tajikistan, on the one hand; Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the other.
In China, the Wakhi community dwells mainly in the Tashkurghan Tajik Autonomous County in addition to other counties within Kashghar and Khutan Prefectures; while in Tajikistan they are mainly in the Wakhan of Badakshan along the upper Panj River (although also live in bits and pieces in the capital and other parts of the country). Besides, in few thousands, the Wakhi community also live in Russia. Like the Tajik Wakhan, in Afghanistan, the Wakhi community live in their indigenous abode, the legendary Wakhan valley.
Of equal importance again, the Wakhi people also dwell in the Northern Pakistan: Gojal tehsil, magistracy, in Hunza Valley; Ishkoman Valley in the Ghizar district, and Burughel of Yarkhun Valley in Chitral district.
The CHINESE WAKHI MARRIAGE System
The Chinese Wakhi Marriage System is very diverse. For the expected conjugal partners, it is necessary to go through all its extensive procedures that can be better understood by classifying them in three major parts: (A) Pre-Wedding Procedures and Ceremonies; (B) Wedding Ceremony; and (C) Post-Wedding Ceremonies.
PRE-WEDDING PROCEDURES AND CEREMONIES
Wakhi Marriage Practices and Preferences.
The Chinese Wakhis of Tashkurhgan County,like other Wakhis, have the marriage system handed over to them in their tradition. The preferences for mate- selection in marriage are changing with the course of time.
Arranged Marriage and the Chinese Marriage Law
Among the Chinese Wakhi, like other Wakhis of their neighbour states, the system of parentally arranged marriage has been running traditionally although in some instances, the marriages were also held with the consent of the mates firstly the boy and then may be the girl. Within the arranged marriage, both the parallel and cross cousins were preferred till 1980. Besides, cousins’ preferences in marriage, the exogamy was also in exercise in addition to arranged polygyny, sororate and levirate (haqdor in Wakhi) marriages. Many of the expected mates used to get married at the very young age, for example 12 or 13 and there was no restriction in number of procreating children.
Looking towards the phenomena of rapidly increase in the population, early and collateral marriages and consequently the medical problems with the children, and the forced marriages, the government decided to cope with the situations by having legislation; and it was in 1980 that the marriage law was promulgated to the Chinese nationals that follow as under:
“A husband and a wife are duty-bound to practise family planning;
Marriage between blood or collateral relatives (up to the third degree of relationship) is not permitted;
Marriage must be based upon the complete willingness of the two parties;
And neither party shall use compulsion and no third party is allowed to interfere” (Wen 1989: 22).
The aforementioned marriage law can provide us clear insights in terms of encouraging exogamy; on the other, restriction in endogamy, more particularly within one’s closed kin is crystal clear.
The more the Chinese government has empowered the expected conjugal partners in having the decision of their own for marriage, the more they have been restricted in the family planning. The age limit has been fixed for the new and young couples: for a man, the minimum age is 22 and a woman 20 (ibid). The Hans, the majority ethnic group of China, are not allowed to have more than one child; while the minorities in the urban areas are permitted to have two children, and minorities living in the rural areas can produce three children.
The implementation of such policy by the government has, however, profound effects, both positive and negative, on the lives of peoples including the Sarikolis and Wakhis.
The sharp impacts of the marriage law on the Wakhi community can be seen firstly upon the preference of traditionally arranged-marriage along with their sub-preferences whereby the monopoly of the parents and/or other Wakhi elders of the family that has now taken its last breath. No girl or boy can presently be forced to marry a person whom she/he does not like. In this connection, the girls have especially got full confidence, as was revealed by themselves during interviews. Secondly, the cross and parallel cousins’ marriage came to an end and no more this type of marriage even to the third degree of generation is found. Thirdly, the practise of polygyny also ended; and all these are the immediate effects of the promulgated marriage law. Fourthly, no early marriage can be seen as was in practice in the teen-ages of the children.
The Wakhi people have mixed views about such changes. They favour certain initiatives as freedom of choice in marriage but advocate for abiding their other cultural norms and values. Further, a considerable number of respondents were supporting the sensitivities of cousins’ marriage. Nevertheless, some elders are of the opinion to resume the cousin’s marriage provided that the law is lifted.
Law governing family planning to the minorities by fixing two and three children whether girl or boy, urban or rural has got both the positive and negative impacts. In the socio-economic perspectives (food, education, health and the like), limitation of small size family is preferable, as was related; but in terms of political perspective, this is injustice because the Hans are the majority ethnicity. It is interesting to note that
if 50 % of the Han population, for example, is restricted from producing children for ten years; and on the other, the smaller minority ethnic groups are asked to produce in average six children, these people would not reach to the wind (distance) of the Hans. Hence, in political term, these people seem uncomfortable.
Love Marriage/Marriage of Understanding
The deal given in the mate-selection of a new couple has also varying impacts. There is no doubt that young expected conjugal partners have been empowered to decide for their life, and these youth, in turn, are availing the opportunity. There were many evidences for the love marriages, or may appropriately be the marriages based on some understanding, and the youngsters prefer this approach and are having different experiences. On the other hand, some of the parents are still of the opinion and advocate for having the arranged marriages, and also endogamy within their kin. While many of these parents also do recommend love marriage or marriage in accordance with the willing or consent of the expected life partners because “these couples have to spend ultimately their lives together. So let the concerned expected couple to decide for their marital contract”, the latter added.
Permanent Residence in One’s Wife’s Patrilocal: Khun-Domod.
The term Khun-domod (Khundomad) is the composition of two Wakhi words: khun for the ‘home’, and domod for the ‘son-in-law’: and altogether, this means the “house of son-in-law” or “son-in-law in the house”. This is a type of marriage, which is opposed to the other sorts of Wakhi marriage. Herein the bride does not move out from her parent’s house(patrilocal residence) but rather the groom, after marriage, settles in the bride’s parent’s house. This type of marriage is common among all Wakhis: the reason being the patrilineal society; and when there is no son of an individual then he opts to bring his son-in-law in his house and the properties are rendered to him and their daughter after the death of the bride’s parents. Till their death, the son-in-law keeps full care of his affinal parents.
The khundomod marriage is still in practice among the Chinese Wakhi; but the youngsters these-days do not prefer it by arguing that “we don’t want to be the slave of our wife and their parents”.
Present Perspective of Wakhi Tajik Youth in Seeking Spouse
A special view on seeking a spouse from the perspectives of some youths and elders of the Tashkurghan County and Dafdor in being presented here in order to have some insight into their views so that to know how they view the change in their cultural domain.
As mentioned earlier that Chinese marriage law has brought legal freedom of choice in spouse-selection, which has its positive effects as mentioned earlier and was also observed in the study locale: the Tashkurghan Tajik County. But it was also significant to note especially through the female youth respondents that this freedom of choice has also brought the negative impacts and they were reluctant from its outcomes.
This freedom of choice also has reportedly got the negative aspect. Like other heterogeneous societies, Xinjiang Region is also composed of many ethnic groups and religious cults. Thus, the Tajik youths, both male and female, come across the non-Tajik youths belonging to the different colours, races, and creeds. These Tajik youths are not well aware of the non-Tajiks about their behavioural and familial backgrounds moulded by their concerned cultures. Hence working or studying together in the different organisations or institutions or even interacting together in any public centres. In result of such kind of interactions, these young Tajiks, especially males, emotionally tie themselves with each other or fell in love or pseudo-love. This is true, to some extent, to the Sarikoli in particular, and the Wakhis in general. There are some instances that the Sarikoli Tajiks as well as the Wakhi Tajiks, both male in particular, and female in rare cases, have fell in love with the non-Tajiks (Uyghurs and Hans or others), but later they have not been accepted by their immediate consanguinal kin and they are away from their families.
About certain phenomena, some Tajiks of the county were asked for the future consequences of such marriages. They responded that some marriages with the non-Tajiks have been experienced that were unacceptable for their society and such bitter experiences are better precedents for them to think in the long run and decide rationally rather than emotionally. A commentary was made about the marriages with the non-Tajiks, which follows in this manner: There is no doubt that the Uyghurs or Hans or other nationalities are humans like us but all of us have got distinctive behaviours, norms and values and way of living, beliefs and languages from our concerned cultures. But getting married with those non-Tajik people creates disturbances in the kinship relations of the Tajiks. Mostly these people advocate for and are very proud of their nationality and then, of course, talk about religion. For the marriage, as was noticed, two main factors preferentially play their role for the specification and acceptance of a marriage: firstly, nationality–being Tajiks; and secondly, religion–being Panjtanis or Shia Ismailites. Within these realms, then there are other criteria or preferences for seeking a spouse: e.g., the education; social statuses, economic factors, and the like.
In connection with the general criteria for spouse selection, the Wakhis do prefer, besides their own ethnicity, to have firstly the Tajik (Sarikoli) partner, even though if the life partner doesn’t share the same creed . On the other hand, if the marriage is to be carried out among the non-Tajiks, then the life partner should be panjtani or the Ismailite. This reveals the attachments of the Wakhi Tajik people of Tashkurghan County and more specifically the Dafdor Wakhi settlement that in the perspective of the inter-Tajik-nationality, religious preference relaxes itself in marriage; while in the perspective of inter-non-Tajik-nationality, religion plays its crucial role. The justifications are there. For instance, in case, if a panjtani Wakhi Tajik marries a choryori Sarikoli Tajik, they can live together in their concerned families taking care of, at least, Tajik norms and values, and can adjust or compromise on nationality while dimming religion. But if a panjtani Tajik (Wakhi or Sarikoli) marries a choryori Uyghur or Kirghiz or a kafir Han rather a Buddhist Han, it becomes difficult for this conjugal family to compromise or adjust on the dual perspectives of culture: nationality and religion; and finally there comes an easy risk of disintegration of the marriage contract in result of disharmony and the difference of learning from their respective cultures.
Table 1: Marriage Preferences among the Wakhis (Serial-wise)
No. Preferences No. Preferences
Wakhi=Wakhi (in China)
5. Wakhi=Non-Tajik (panjtani Isamilite)
6. Wakhi=Non-Tajik (non-Ismailite Muslim)
7. Wakhi=Non-Muslim (revealed books)
8. Wakhi=Non-Muslim (kafir)
Source: Author’s own investigation through the respondents (November 2000)
N.B.: = is the sign for marriage relationship
Belief in and Usage of the Witchcraft (Jodhũwgirig̃h-e Rasm woz Skem Amal)
Another storey vis-à-vis engaging or trapping a male spouse is the usage and belief in the witchcraft practised by the Tajik women in Tashkurghan County. The male members of the Tajik nationality (both Wakhis and Sarikolis) are, mostly responsible for the exogamy or out-marriage with the non-Tajik nationalities. There were very few precedents found that the female Tajiks of Tashkurghan County have got married with the non-Tajiks (Uyghurs or Hans). And ultimately certain marriages by both the men and women is neither regarded nor accepted cordially by the Tajik society in Tashkurghan. This indicates the strong bondage of being Tajik and being Panjtanis. On the other hand, the married spouses, married out of the Tajiks, are also reportedly not satisfied and are facing great troubles to adjust with the new cultural bondage and affinal relationships.
In connection with getting the marriage-mates, interesting practices are made particularly, and in many instances, by many Tajik women individually to trap the concerned male spouses through the witchcraft, as these women do believe, in order to get married with their concerned men. For this purpose, the women opt to go even to Kashghar, five hours drive by bus from Tashkurghan, and complete their mission through the Uyghur witches. Sometimes, certain women also travel further up to Yarkand, more or less three hours drive from Kashi . If a young Tajik woman likes a Tajik man, she may use the witchcraft trick to attract him towards herself. After having received the talisman or amulet, then, the Tajik woman would express her feeling that she loves the concerned man who is not aware about this tricky game of the woman, the female respondents were narrating. In this way, many marriage engagements also take place. Many marriages may become successful through this means. While on the other hand, there were also reports that sometimes some unmarried young women continue their efforts even to attract attention of the men and disintegrate the already married couples and try to marry with their concerned men through the usage of the witchcraft (amulet). This shows the worldview of many of these Tajik women who see their destiny in the hands of the witches. Or foretellers who look on the hands of these women, as these women are very eager that someone should tell them about their future: even if someone doesn’t know any thing about it and tell a lie.
After this much orientation with some facets of change and seeking for a spouse through the different means, we’ll now return to rejoin and proceed ahead of the aforementioned topic: ‘Informing the girl’s family’. And we will see what happens and what kind of responses do come to the boy’s family in order to have the marriage engagement.
EN ROUTE TO MARRIAGE: WAKHI MARRIAGE PROCEDURES
The marriage procedures with the Chinese Wakhis are interesting, which varies, to a considerable extent, from their neighbouring Wakhi minority ethnic groups in Pakistan. Certain variations may be because of physical and politico-cultural environments, and especially the influence of majority ethnic groups, like the Han Chinese and Uyghur in Xinjiang, over the minority ethnicity like the Wakhi, Sarikoli, and others. Besides such factors, another justification, these days, would also come up that is the contacts of the concerned ethnic groups with the outer world through different means of interactions in this period of globalisation.
Even though, this ethnic minority group faces cultural intensification among the majority ethic groups in Xinjiang, but it is surprising, on the other hand, to note that these agro-pastoralist and semi-sedentary people of the socialist China have yet embraced many facets of their old traditions, which appear in their social lives and more particularly in their marriage ceremonies: despite the fact that they are in a more open social environment as compared to their neighbouring ethnic group in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Some facets of the Wakhi culture, however, are being presented hereunder that are seen in terms of their marriage procedures and the roles of different kin groups and their inter-relations in this regard. For better understanding of the marriage system, it has been divided into three major parts: Pre-Wedding Procedures and Ceremonies; the Wedding Processes and Ceremony; and the Post-Wedding Engagements and Ceremonies
Pre-Wedding Procedures and Ceremonies
Looking For A Female Life Partner (Kende/Pẽrkhas̃h Tayin K̃hak)
When a boy, in accordance with the revised Chinese Marriage Law, grows up to at least twenty-two years of age, he could express his willing for a life partner— which must be other than his collateral cousins up to the third degree of generations , to his parents (or any closed relative, in case the parents are not alive). Or, on the other hand, anyone of the parents inform their son–in case the choice is arranged one–about his willing to engage a girl for him, whom they deem, is appropriate. However, as mentioned earlier, this practice is not very common these days rather the choice of expected spouses is being regarded in the light of the marriage constitution promulgated in 1980.
Informing the Girl’s Parents (Pũrchodh-e Tatnan Khẽbar K̃hak)
After qualifying the criterion of age, a boy, if wants to get married, sends any of his parents or closed relatives to the girl’s family to inform them about his conjugal intention. In case of arranged marriage, too, the first messenger either father or mother or any closed kin goes to the girl’s family and intimates the latter. After the delivery of this information, the concerned messenger, having entertained by light refreshment or meal, returns. And the girl’s parents share their views together and ask their daughter about this matter that if she likes this affinal relation, in case the girl has no understanding or love with the boy. Normally, during the first or second visit one cannot expect the girl’s family to respond or decide rather they tell the boy’s family that they would discuss this matter with the girl as well as their other closed kin. Thus, either of the parents/closed kin of the boy visits the girl’s family, after a considerable pause, to know about the latest progress. Maximally, the positive response could take couple of months also, and minimally it could take few weeks too. It actually depends on the nature and relations
The first-phase: Marriage engagement (Qũdagig̃h/qũdadorig̃h Rec̃hn)
The girl’s parents as well as the closed kin discuss this affinal matter with the girl and also share and consult their intimate friends in order to decided appropriately for the future of their daughter provided that this expected affinal relationship is arranged one. In case, of love or understanding of both the expected-spouses, the matter doesn’t take much time. The reason is in front of us: the Chinese Marriage Law for any kind of violation of the expected marriage couple.
There are two ways of delivery of the positive response to the boy’s family from the girl’s family. First: as mentioned earlier, any of the parents or closed kin, turn by turn or otherwise, keeps contact with the girl’s family; and ultimately could take the positive response to the boy’s family. Second: the girl’s family, after deep consultation with their daughter and other closed kith and kin, could send the message to the boy’s family through a messenger.
However, after getting the positive response from the girl’s family then the rite of the first phase of marriage engagement takes place by the consultation of both the parties. The date, especially the day and time taken into account by the khalifa, the religious authoritarian, is fixed. And some selected (3-6 members) male elders of the boys family do go to the girl’s family in order to celebrate this function at specific level: thus, an informal announcement comes out about the new spouses’ association. Now, these spouses are expected to avoid meeting each other till the marriage is celebrated: anyhow, at present, this traditional taboo, to a cognisable extent, is dimming; but taboo on pre-marital mating is, of course, strictly taken into considerations.
When the boy’s family come to the girl’s parental house, the girl’s family come out of the house and meet their guests: their affinal kin of the future. This is the day that paves the way for laying the foundation stone of a new affinal kinship from the perspective of the Tajik culture. On the side of the girl’s family, they had already gathered a selected number of their closed kin and neighbour too. Thus, when the guests enter in the house of the girl’s parent, all these hosts gather in the low platform, yorch, of the Tajik House, and altogether in one voice welcome their guests–boy’s delegates–by saying the Persian expression khushomadid, means ‘Welcome to you’. The guests in response say borikalloh, means ‘may God bless you’; and the hosts are asked to seat themselves.
This is, indeed, a function of significance but not at broader level, however. It could end within one-three hours. On the other hand, this has not anything to do with the girl at this stage, her presence in front of her affinal kin is not compulsory, anyway. The guests are served with the welcome tea. Both the parties discuss together within this period. During this period the big breads (lup ñečve) along with milk tea is served and this is the special kind of entertainment; the khalifa then reads fatiha, reciting from the Holy Qura’an. Thus, the boy’s delegates stand and take the hands of each of the individuals of the girl’s family as well as her delegates and kiss their hands in response of giving the girl to the boy. In this manner, however, this brief but significant, and preparatory programme for the second phase of engagement, ends within two to three hours that started provisionally around 10:00 hour and finished at 13:00 hour.
Table 2 Foodstuffs during the First Phase of Engagement
Welcome Tea (Green)
Baked-breads of normal size
Meal may include vegetable and meat
Source: author’s own survey in November 2000 in Tashkurghan County of Xinjiang.
Marriage Engagement Ceremony (Rimol Tẽrsar-e Rasm)
Rimol tẽr sar, literally means ‘scarf on the head’, but metaphorically it denotes as ‘presenting the scarves along with other gifts to the girl and branding her as one’s daughter-in-law, and the branded wife, means the fiancee confirmed for his/her son. And bosh ktak or also qling ktak, somehow represents the bride’s wealth, as the parents/closed kin of the girl demand the boy’s family to fulfill cerain requirements for the girl and her marriage, as fixed traditionally.
Cooking Food for Rimol tẽrSar
Before one day of the Rimol Tẽrsar, both the affinal families start cooking food for the celebration day. The cooking stuffs are the same in both these families. Approximately, fifty normal size of baked-breads (choqi k̃hech) are prepared and cooked out of twenty kilos of flour. Besides these baked-breads, ten kilos of arzuqs are also cooked from 10 kg of flour in addition to the 20 kg. Thus, the 10 kg of arzuq are put in the cloth-bag, which is given to the guests/visitors in both the families during the celebration day of Rimol Tersar. One thing is significant regading the cooking of food from the boy’s family: apart from the normal size of baked-breads and arzuqs, eight baked-breads of big size and also the big size of arzuqs are cooked and the later put into a cloth-bag of 50 jing , which is especially taken to the girl’s parental house.
Celebration of Rimol tẽrsar (Rimol Tẽrsar-e Rasm)
Maximum four months and minimum one month pass(es) in between the first phase and second phase of engagement. The way for the foundation stone was already laid in the first phase of marriage engagement, qũdadorig̃h (chilgak among Hunza Wakhi). Now, this time, the engagement programme broadens to a larger scale and lays the foundation for the new affinal kinship relation indeed.
The guests start arriving in the girl’s parental house and approximately at around 10:00 hours, as the time is fixed by the khalifa. In this programme, besides the closed kin and neighbours of the girl’s family, a considerable number of the invitees in the village, numbering between 20-30 members including more men than women also do participate. In the same manner, the delegates of the boys family now also increase in its size, which number more than fourteen, as was observed during the celebration of this phase of engagement in Dafdor. In accordance with these days norms, minimally 15 and maximally 20 delegates could go for this celebration from the boy’s side. It is now interesting to note that this time, one woman either the boy’s mother or siter or aunt could accompany with the male delegates. Even though, there is the representation of the women folk in this delegation, but, more particurlary, the main role of this woman rates for the appropriate distribution and rendering of the cooked food to the affine family, which the male members may confuse.
When all the guests come to the girl’s parental house, the parents and the family of the girl’s parents, in accordance with the Tajik norm, come out of the house and meet their affinal guests by kissing on each others hands then all of them, according to the seniority of age as well as rank do enter in the house. The girl’s parental families do stand and welcome all of their affined guesss by saying khushomadeed, and the affined guests in response say borikallah, the girl’s patrilocal people then spread the tablecloth (distorkhun) and the food cooked the previous day along with the fresh green tea by the girl’s parents is served to the boy’s delegates. This food includes the arzuqs on the top of the zaqlay xechisht (the small size of baked-breads). After having this entertainment, the khalifa offers prayer (fotiha) food by thanking God for providing this opportunity and the distorkhun is taken back.
Now, the real time for engagement, but rather request for the girl comes. The boy’s delegates step down to the yorch, a platform usually used for dancing during weddings and putting their shoes in normal days , turn their faces towards the girl’s parental families, who are seated comfortably in the upper platforms, called as razh, and one of the elders and experienced man represents all the delegates and says: “Sakes̃h cẽ sav en yi Oshpac (oshpats) chalgen woz sav’res̃h yi g̃huzvor randen”, which literally means that we are requesting for a soup-maker/cook and in reciprocity we are going to give you a wood-collector .
Among others, a sweet voiced elderly person would then say in Persian, as I observed it in Dafdor: “Dukhtar talabidan nang nist, ne-dodan jang nist”, meaning proposal or request for a girl (in engagement) is not a question of humiliation or shame; if the request was not accepted, there is no force or battle at all.
Afterwards, these affine relatives are asked to take their seats. Both parties sit together next to each other. Now, one of the immediate consanguine relatives, expert in speaking, stands and addresses his affines relatives by saying:
“we agreed to give our daughter to you, kindly fully take care of her, if you do not take care and sustain her ahead, and if you offended her, then our relations may deteriorate. We have already advised our daughter, and in front of you we advise her again, that be loyal and obedient to her husband and affine kinspersons. We do hope and pray that our new kinship relation may last longer” ( Ref: Participation in a ceremony by the author in Nov 2000, Dafdor).
The khalifa, who is brought by the boy’s family, recites prayer (fotiha) from the Holy Qur’an for the good omen vis-à-vis this occasion. Then the boy’s delegation stands to kiss the hands of their affine kin: both of the new kin kisss the hands of each other.
Now, the lup k̃hech (big-sized baked breads) and the arzuqs (another form of traditional bread) along with four pairs of lady’s cloth brought by the boy’s party is put in four big plates (lagan/tas̃ht): the arzuqs over the big breads, and the four cloths on the top of these breads in the plates, which have been brought to the girl and her parents family. The khalifa sprinkles a fist of flour upon these breads, urzuqs and cloths, and they are taken up by the girl’s parents.
A big he-sheep (ameri), presented by the boys family is brought into the Wakhi traditional house. The khalifa recites prayer upon this õmeri and then it is slaughtered for the party. If the number of the guests exceed from its actual size then another sheep or a goat (may or tug̃h) is slaughtered by the girl’s parents (patriloal).
The khalifa, now, gets the opportunity and takes the scarf along with a neclace or a wrist watch, and goes to the treasury store (g̃hanz̃) wherein the girl along with her female first cousins or friends would sit during this celebration. The khalifa puts the scarf on her head, ties the necklace and wrist watch and congratulates her for this small scale wedding ceremony. Then all the audience, whoever visits her or meets the girl, give their felicitations, and pray for her bright future.
Bride’s Wealth or Bride’s Price (Bosh Kẽt̃ak / Qling Kẽt̃ak)
The boš or qling are compulsory huge gifts, presented by the boy’s side to the girl, girl’s parents and/or other closed kin during the wedding or before the wedding celebration. Some of the boš are brought during this day: rimol tẽrsar, but others are to be brought during the wedding or some days prior to the wedding days. After slaughtering the Pamiri he-sheep, the parents and other close kin of the girl declare the bride’s wealth (bosh kẽt̃ak) to their affine kinspersons.
During the time of presenting the bride’s wealth, the slaughtered ameri is in the process of cooking . Thus, it is made ready and presented to all the participants by selecting five persons in each group of more or less sixty persons.
One thing was very obvious to note that if the kin group are not invited by the concerned families because of any kind of reason, these kin group, for sure, becoome very angry . It is therefore very necessary to invite all of their kin.
However, when the food prepared for this ceremony is eaten, then as per norm/principle the khalifa offers the prayer and all of the participants of both these affine relatives leave for their concerned houses at evening time, and both the affinal relatives then wait for the wedding ceremony.
The details of the boš are as illustrated in the following table.
Table 3 Details of Bosh/Qling (Bride’s Demanded Stuffs)
Particulars / Demanded Stuffs from bride’s Side in Bosh
Two big and expensive coats of red & brown colour (2 lup woz qiymati chũponish [paltu]: bes̃hter yem seker wost woz raks̃h be bet)
One small and thin coat of red colour (yi z̃aqlay woz snor kot̃: seker rangen)
One big scarf of red colour (yi lup rimol)
Four expensive cloths of red colour: 4 x 4 = 16 meters ] (cbõr qaymati bet̃ish/chilish)
One cloth of white colour [4 metres]: its name is mashut in Sarikoli and vũrs̃hũm in Wakhi.
A necklace of good quality ( marwori-e- baf perg)
One or two rings of gold or silver ((1 yoy 2 tilo yoy noqra-e plẽnges̃ht /brundu)
Earrings of gold or silver (tilo yoy noqra-e g̃his̃hworish)
One pair of the long shoes of red or black colour (yi jeft yitõk: seker yoy s̃hũw)
Four big Pamiri he-sheep (cẽbũr lup amriyish)
Three pieces of cloths for the kamiz (tru pirhanik-e bet̃ish/ chilish)
Source: Author’s own survey during Rimol tẽrSar Ceremony in Dafdor (November 2000).
The WEDDING PROCESS & CEREMONY
This part of the marriage discusses the preparations, inception and celebration of the both wedding houses. In this connection, the roles and functions of the closed and distant kin of both affinal kin as well as their neighbours are also taken into acounts.
From Engagement to the wedding (Cẽ Rimol Tersar en da Tuyer)
After the marriage engagement, rimol tersar, the time period for the wedding could be one month or couple of months or even one year also, which, to a considerable extent, depends on the fiancée’s parents. The justifications are: if the girl’s parents are (1) not economically sound; or (2) do not have any daughter-in-law; or (3) do not have any other daughter in the house to help them; or (4) do have a son or sons but small and not to the age of marriage; and or (5) their daughter could be engaged in her studies. The fiancé and his parents, therefore, need to wait for their newly affinal kin till any alternatives come. If any parents do not have certain hurdles, then the wedding could take place sooner. But before the preparations and inception of the wedding ceremony, the representatives of both these affinal parities meet each other and do counselling together that when to celebrate the wedding and how.
Wedding Counselling (Tuy-e Maslihat)
At least two weeks or ten days before the inception of the wedding ceremony, both the heads of the affinal kin groups meet each other and dialogue that on which date and day to start the preparations and inception, boshlamish / oghoz, and to celebrate the wedding (tuy); and what kind of people would be expected to come and other considerations.
In this connection, the groom’s father, or a closed consanguine relative, remains in close and frequent contact with the bride’s father and family so that to have closed intimation regarding the wedding. The date and day, these days, are not restricted, as used to be by the religious authority, because of the busy routine of the people in China, which are, therefore, fixed looking ahead the weekly and other special holidays so that the concerned kinspersons could participate in the wedding. When the date and day are fixed, both the affinal kin, thus, begin informing and inviting their kin and kith at least one week ago. Inviting these kith and kin for wedding is called as dawat k̃hak, or according to the Hunza Wakhi as jayt k̃hak.
Wedding Preparations: Cooking Food (Tuy-e Boshlamish / Oghoz: K̃hechev Pẽcak)
One day before the inception of the wedding processes, the closed kinswomen and neighbour-women of both the affine families gather in these concerned houses and start making the normal baked-breads (z̃aqlay k̃hechev) and arzuqev).
Marriage at Smaller Scale (Z̃aqlay Tuy)
The wedding ceremony of the Chinese Wakhi do differ, to some extent, from their neighbouring Hunza Wakhi wedding procedures in Pakistan. The Chinese Wakhi divide the wedding ceremony mainly into two parts: the smaller scale wedding (z̃aqlay tuy), and the bigger scale wedding (lup tuy). The first two-day have been spared for the deceased families of the concerned areas, where in the deaths have occurred for the last one year, and for their kin and kith; while in the third day, the wedding is celebrated with great pomp and show.
First Day: Deceased Families’ Day (Awalgini Rwor: Khẽfa’v-e Rẽwor)
Literary “khẽfa” in Wakhi, as well as in Persian (i.e., khafa), means the suffocated, gloomy, stuffy or annoyed, but it signifies connotatively vis-à-vis wedding as ‘the deceased families who have lost someone of their family members and are “gloomy” or in pain. . In is very significant among the Wakhi Tajiks of China that those deceased families are honoured to inaugurate this day of happiness and they are entrusted such happy occasion. The main logic behind this strategic action is to move, lead and divert the minds of such deceased and suffered family members towards happiness.
This morning at around 9:00 hour, the deceased families, both men and women, are gathered into the wedding house. After their arrival in the house, the concerned members of the wedding party welcome all the family members of deceased people. Tea along with arzuqs and the normal size of baked-breads are presented to them. After having this refreshment, a pamiri he-sheep is brought into the house in front of these guests, the khalifa offers prayer upon this animal and then this he-sheep is slaughtered to the deceased families. In the meantime, as the sheep is cooked, all these deceased-families talk together and with other people. When the food is ready, it is served to these guests. After having meal, the khalifa thanks God by praying and also to deceased families and the distorxun (the meal cloth/tablecloth) is taken back.
Now, the master of this house (sohib-e khona) takes tambourine (doriya) puts it in front of the family members of the deceased persons and says: ‘we are very thankful to you all for sharing our happiness; we feel it severely that you have lost your family members, the loss is for all of us and not specifically for you only; the happiness and misery are incumbent; all of us, in turn, have to go the next world, that is, the spiritual world. But along with worldly affairs, we have to keep pace with it too. Today, we have got the wedding here in this house, and it needs to be started with your kind consents, and we would like you all to inaugurate this day for us’. The families of the deceased persons take the doriya and strike with their right hand, three times, on this musical instrument turn by turn but in accordance with the seniority of their ages. It signifies that these grieved persons shared the happiness of the wedding families. These deceased persons, in response, pay their gratitude to the concerned wedding family for honouring them, and pray for the wedding parties and especially the new spouses that this marriage contract may become successful, bring prosperity to both the affinal kin. These deceased-families day, thus, comes to its end here.
When the grieved-family members leave the house, the fraternities of Dafdor sit together and make counselling that how to entertain and accommodate the guests coming from the far flung areas, out of Dafdor settlement. The neighbours including the closed kin then offer their houses for stay to them by saying that skẽ maz̃h qush kat̃it: yani ki maz̃her khidmat-e muqa randit ki khalgišt ki wezde yash da z̃hũ khun halen” let me the opportunity to serve those expected guests from out-side of the settlment. If the invited guests are in larger number then these guests could be divided into two to three Wakhi houses. The number of invitees particularly depends on socio-economic condition of the concerned wedding parties. One of the respondents, whose social and economic condition was higher, witnessed that during his son’s marriage the invited guests were in six houses some of whom had attended this wedding from Pakistan also . When these strategies are completed then the second day of the wedding is awaited.
Second Day: Kin And Kith’s Day (Buyũng Rẽwor: Khũdi’v-e Rẽwor)
This is the day that all the relatives and friends gather from the different places, surrounding and distant, and that is why it is named as “Khũdi’v-e Rẽwor also as Khis̃hqom’v-e Rẽwor.” , the day of kin and kith; and definitely the neighbours do participate in it also who are the essential part of the social structure.
This day, though at specific level, brings a lot of joy for the people concerned including musical events and entertainment. One of the significance of this day is that there are many, many things to perform; and, on the other, all people are very jubilant unlike the previous day, Khẽfa’v-e Rẽwor, as with the former, that doesn’t include any music or using the wine: because this is to regard all the grieved families of the settlement who are in pains due to the loss of their concerned family members.
Table 3 Food cooking in the houses of both the affine kin groups
Groom’s House Bride’s House
Pakhtan-ee k̃hech :
8 large size of baked-bread (lup k̃hech)
25 kg of larger size arzuqs
8 kumpal-e k̃hech
1 khest of big pot (kbun)
1 khes̃ht of a bowl (chini / dẽghovi)
Source: Author’s own survey and also through respondents in November 2000.
When the invitees from the far-flung as well as the surrounding places arrive they enter in the wedding houses and the concerned families and other kin welcome them. They are offered tea and those foods: baked-breads and arzuqs. These participants of wedding bring along with them the presents to the concerned wedding houses, which is called as muborakbod, while among the Wakhis of Hunza Pakistan, it is called as pũndor. After having the complementary refreshment, the invitees take out their presents, which are put in a large plate. The invitees apologise in formality would say: “we are sorry that we could not bring you a present of your statuses…”, even though the presents could be very precious. In the same manner, the concerned family head/elder would respond that ‘….not at all, these gifts are too much, and even these were not necessary, your presence is indeed very precious for us …”The concerned household members then would place a large plate on the ground and the invitees keep their presents (muborakbod) in it: thus, these presents are taken by the household members. (see table 7.2)
Table 4 Details of the Presents to the Bride and Groom’s Houses
Past Period Contemporary Period
1. Four large size of baked-breads (lup lup k̃hech) and cloth (chil) is put on its top
2. Sheep and goats (klayisht)
3. Finger rings (plengis̃ht kumd’res̃h ki burundu be k̃hanen)
4. Pots (qẽchayisht)
Some people make the food and some do not, it is optional.
Sheep and goats still bought.
Cloths (rakhtisht/ luqparisht)
Pots (qẽchayisht): plates (laganisht), bowls (kubunisht/dẽghoviyish) etc.
For ladies: mirror (oynek), soap (sobũn), comb (nẽbesn/nẽpesn) etc.
For gents: Handkerchiefs (dhast-e rimolisht ); belts (fet̃isht); pillow covers (vorzik-e khunisht )
Carpets (gilamisht / qolinisht)
Source: Own survey and also through the respondents in November 2000.
Now, the household owner brings a pamiri he-sheep into the house. This sheep is presented to all invited guests that would be slaughtered for them. The concerned invitee(s) may refuse in this regard, but as these people have got hospitality in their blood and tradition, so they would do their own for their visiting guests. The khalifa offers prayer unto the sheep to be slaughtered. This is indeed significant to note that when the prayer was offered vis-à-vis this sheep, it means it has to be slaughtered at any case. Rarely, it happens that some or few invitees, while visiting the house, do regard and very politely refuse such offer by the household owner provided that these guests have to go back immediately and have no time. But most of the time, the refusal may not be accepted by the hosts. Even, if a single invitee enters in the house along with his muborakbod, after having the complementary tea and breads, he/she will be presented a sheep to be slaughtered for him/her.
Thus, the slaughtered pamiri he-sheep is cooked and prepared by the host workers, both men and women, and that’s served along with wine of good quality to the concerned guests. Let me make a point clear on wine drinking before proceeding ahead within the system.
The Wakhi rather Ismaili women do not and are not supposed to drink wine because of whatsoever reason there may be. On the other hand, from the stand point of religion and culture, wine is not deemed good to drink, and the womenfolk, however, look down upon it. Those men, who drink araq are named as araqichi (liquor drunker).
Now, coming to the point again, it was very amazing to note that if during the eating time, some other invitees come, they would not be included within those guests but rather would be ealt, offered and slaughtered a separate sheep instead because there comes a question of honour to both the invitee(s) and the house-owner as the host. The invitee(s), therefore, should be honoured with a separate and fresh slaughtered sheep.
When the invited guests have finished their meal then these guests, in accordance with the last day’s counselling and decisions, are taken to the concerned and arranged houses wherein they would be accommodated for one or two nights. In these houses, the guests are entertained by tea, soup and meal of slaughtered sheep in the concerned houses of the neighbours or relatives and not by the wedding families.
The very closed kin and the working fraternities of the settlement remain most of the time in the house so that to help the family members of the wedding groups. These peoples are served with tea, soup and meat of two slaughtered sheep in this house of wedding.
The working groups within the social fraternaties, especially of cooking food for the next day, remain very engaged. A big ox or a yak is slaughtered, which is called as boda, this day for the coming day’s big program, that is, the wedding celebration on the third day.
If any of the wedding family is economically not very sound then it’s not compulsory to slaughter a boda, but rather could slaughter two pamiri sheep. This day of Khũdi however, takes a lot of engagements in itself for the next day’s wedding celebration. These voluntary fraternities work hard in cooking the meat of boda and it is prepared in advance.
Apart from cooking and preparing the boda, we could observe different assignments on the spot in terms of gender distribution. A group of women remain engaged in cleaning the rice of thirty to fifty kilograms, and cutting and preparing the carrot of twenty to thirty kilograms, which would be cooked the next day on the third of the wedding day by men.
The musical group, comprised of one pair of doriya and one pair of nay (flute), do play music outside the house. The dancers including the guests, local community members, both men and women, and children enjoy dancing together on the inspiring tone of these traditional instruments of Wakhi music. About certain lively topics, we may come again to elaborate them in a bit detail.
It becomes very exciting to observe this day of wedding from the different angles. On the one hand, some invitees arrive and enter in the wedding house and they are being welcomed and entertained by the complementary refreshment. And in the arranged-houses in the neighbourhoods for the guests, the already arrived invited guests are being served with the sheep’s meat and wine. On the other, the music groups composed of two flutes (nay) and two doriyas are busy out side the house to entertain some of the guests and local community: men, women, and children all dancing together in pair-groups. While the group of tent pegging (buz kashi) remain busy with their adventurous world by chasing each other’s horses and trying to snatch the carcass of the baby-goat.
Makeup of the spouses (Vozh K̃hak/ Sprẽz̃hũvn)
Vozh k̃hak is interpreted among the Wakhis in China for facilitating in bathing and making up of the the bride and groom in their respective houses by their closed kith & kin; while among the Wakhis of Hunza, Northern Pakistan, the term sprez̃hũvn or s̃hẽprez̃hũvn is prevalent for the same purpose. This day of Khũdi also includes the make up ceremony of the bride and may also be spared for the groom.
Bride’s Makeup (Bidg̃hanz̃-e Vozh K̃hak)
As as per tradition, the marriages take place in the research locale during the autumn season and the locales in Tashkurghan County are at an elevation of more than 10,000 ft high above sea level. The bride is thus bathed by one of her female first cousins during this day of Khũdi and she is made to lay into her bed where more than three quilts are put upon her for more than 24 hours so that she should sleep and do not get cold or any sickness. And, on the other, for the next 24 hours, both the new spouses would be together so she should be relaxed in terms of sleep also. The second concept behind putting on more than three quilts also signifies to make the bride sweating in her bed so that she should become white in her colour to an extent, if she has a sort of dark skin. The third interpretation regarding laying and causing to make her sweating the new-spouse in the bed indicates that she is a queen for the days so she should stay in the bed like the queen, and should become white like her, as the queen is supposed to be white.
The bride is made to rise and served with butter in the tea and bread, then bat (a traditional soft food prepared out of flour, milk and butter) is made and fed the bride so that she should not get hungry. Now, the female cousin weaves the hair of the bride and makes her dress on. But before putting on the clothes, the khalifa offers prayer unto the clothes and sprinkles some flour on the clothes then the bride is made dressed. And later all other requirements of makeup are brought to an end.
Groom’s Makeup (S̃honi-e Vozh K̃hak)
Mostly the makeup of groom takes place on the Wedding Day (lup tuy), but sometimes it may hold on the day of kith and kin (Khũdi-e Rẽwor). An uncle, mother’s brother or father’s brother, being experienced, helps the groom in bathing him. In the same manner, as the bride is laid in her bed, the groom is also made laid in his bed, the justifications are the same as explained some aspects for the bride.
The next day, on lup tuy (wedding day), after Khũdi .’s day, the groom is taken out of his bed at noon provided that both the spouse groups are within the settlment of Dafdor, otherwise around 10:00 hours, if one of the wedding groups is out of Dafdor, and prepared for the wedding in making him up. Preparing the groom is the duty of the witness, padar khon , whom the Wakhis of Hunza Pakistan call as tat. The khalifa, as was with the bride, offers prayers upon the groom’s clothes, sprinkles a fist of flour on the clothes, as it becomes fortunate, and then the padar khon helps the groom put on his clothe and other required dressings.
One thing was very interesting to note that during the makeup process of the groom, a ring is dip into the blood, then put into bread and thrown into the fire in the house; soon after, a person takes that out of the fire as a Respondent stated.
The dressings of both the bride and grooming is illustrated in the following table:
Table 5 Dressing requirements of the bride and groom
1. Sekr pirhan (Red kamiz/chemise )
2. Seker chũpan (Red coat) A red woollen jumper
Ska seker chũpan sar woz yi verz seker yoy jigari rang-e chũpan (Another red or liver colour over-coat on top of the small red coat). Moyka (under-shirt-wear)
Rukhn yoy seker chimban kumd’nes̃h ki ya ruy gewen. Tur (underwear or under-pant)
Wus̃hk: rukhn shol en qiti tra sar zwayen Rukhn kachang (white shorts)
Lup seker šol ska kũk̃ht-e sar (a shawl on top of all dresses) Yishim: savz yoy s̃hũw yoy raks̃h (trousers/pants of blue or green or black colour)
Seker boyjoma/pojoma (a red trousers) Chũpan: savz yoy s̃hũw yoy raks̃h (Coat of blue or green or brown colour)
Seker yikta (A red pull over) Glastuk (A tie of any colour)
Dherd jũrob(a pair of check socks) Tilpuq (Crown of black colour, previously used to be white )
S̃hũw yoy seker yitũk (a pair of red or black long shoes) Sila: yi rukhn et yi seker chil-e tov go’n k̃he yanes̃h tra madh zwayen k̃he ska wũrges̃ht foš lecren (a red and white strip of cloth is twisted together and rounded over the crown cap)
Seker yoy rukhn dest-e banen/yikta (a red or white undershirt) Yi lup verz chũpan (s̃hũw yoy savz–blue or green): A black or green or blue overcoat)
Kachang ( nickers of any colour) Yi seker rimol ska destyor chũpan-e sar vanden (a red scarf for tieing over the small coat)
Kilta: sekr rang tiqi, chikan kilta/skidh ( A traditional Wakhi Cap of red-check colour) Yi jeft seker dherd jũrab (a pair of red check socks)
Silsila (A decorative chain hanging on the traditional female cap) Yi seker yoy s̃hũw but̃ yoy yitũk (a pair of red or black shoes or long shoes)
Sadaf: Nacre/shell (mother of pearl)
Chuwulk (a stuff of black colour, which ties the womens hair and hangs over to their back or front)
Dverak (noqra-en): Dverek (of silver)
Plengis̃ht /burundu (ring)
Source: Author’s own survey and through the respondents in November 2000.
THIRD DAY: The WEDDING DAY (Truyũng Rẽwor: Lup Tuy)
When this day begins at midnight, the fraternal workers start cooking the meat of boda and also the pulaw that is composed mainly of the rice of between 30-50 kg) and meat and carrot (20-30 kg). Furthermore, a huge amount of potato and meat is also cooked together separately, which is called as qurdoq. The cooking of all these foods is made sure to be ready as the dawn of this day comes so that there should not be any concern or issue to all the management, hosts and others concerned.
This morning, around 8:00 hour, the guests start coming into the wedding houses in both places. They are offered the complementary tea along with nan but not from the recently prepared food because they would be presented during the day times when all the party members of the newly affinal relatives would arrive.
Both the groom and bride are got up at noon provided that both the spouses are from Dafdor; otherwise, if one of the spouses is out of Dafdor then s/he gets up early at around 8:00 a.m. while the other spouse based in Dafdor will get up little late. The groom and bride are made up not in the house but rather the former in the guestroom, usually before entering in the traditional house; and the latter in the treasury store, called as g̃hanz̃ (roughly pronounced in English as ghandz). The date fixation of both the bride and groom has been discussed in the description of the previous day. Before putting on their clothes for make up, the khalifa/sayid prays from the Holy Qura’an sitting in the right platform, lup razh of the Wakhi house. The padarkhon, the marriage witness, helps the groom in putting him his clothes on; while the bride is assisted by one of her female cousins, paternal or maternal in the make up process.
When both the groom and bride have been made up, they are brought into their concerned traditional houses from the guesthouse and ìanò respectively. At this moment, the organisers of the groom’s party have already talked together and decided for the specified party members to go along with the groom towards the bride’s parents’ house.
Groom’s Departure for Bride’s Patrilocal ( S̃honi Nũwzũk Trẽ Bidg̃hanz̃-e Tatkhun Nag)
According to the set schedule made by the management group of the wedding, the groom and all selective wedding party members depart for the bride’s patrilocal. Before leaving the house, the khalifa or the sayid sprinkles firstly a fistful of flour each on the top of the pillars of the Tajik traditional house and then secondly little amount of flour (within the grip of three fingers) on the shoulders or on the scalp spot of the cap of individual members of the wedding party (termed as tuychi) in addition to the groom and his immediate team members such as the marriage witness ( padarkhon as the fictive father of the bride) and the female companion for the bride on the way back to her neolocal( called rawoc, who could be either the groom’s first cousin or aunt).
After sprinkling of flour but before coming out of the house, the musicians, composed of a flute expert (called as naychi) and two tambourine experts (called doyirachi or doryachi) start playing music that are accompanied by the singers who sing in Persian language. These singers , for example, say: “Podshohi rawe, podshohi raw raw………”, means that the king is going, the king is going. The groom is the king of the day, who is leaving to bring for himself the queen that is the bride.
Now, the groom’s party start for the bride’s parents’ house by sitting in the cars if the bride’s patrilocal is far away and accessible by vehicles, if not so then riding horses, but if both the affinal parties are in the same place, then obviously leave on foot. All the relatives and invitees come out of the house to see off the groom and wish him all the best for this contractual journey.
Receptions to the Groom en Route to Bride’s Patrilocal (Shirughan Tẽr Vẽdek)
Shirughan (a contraction of Persian words as shir u rughan) is a reception given by the relatives of both the wedding parties on the way to and from the bride’s patrilocal. This rite also shows the strength and bond of kinship among the concerned Wakhi people, who are in the middle of the locales of both the groom and the bride. On the other hand, it is somehow reciprocal too in the upcoming weddings among the relatives/kin groups.
As the groom along with the selective wedding party has departed for the patrilocal of the bride, the groom’s kin groups give reception to him and this reception is called as the šir u ëan . The groom takes the bowl of šir u ëan [roughly pronounced as ‘shirughan’] and drinks from it. In return, the groom and especially his management group pay their gratitude and appreciation in connection with honouring those party members with this reception.
Arriving at Bride’s Patrilocal (Bidg̃hanz̃-e Tatkhun G̃hẽtak)
At this moment the groom and his party members arrive in the house of the bride’s parents. The musicians with sweet melody play the music and the singers, as normally there use to be among the musicians, singing the songs arrive at the affinal relatives’ house. The parents and all the group members including men, women and children come out from the house of the brides’ house to receive their guests and express their happiness for their guests.
Dancing Session (Soz et Naghma)
Now outside of the house, there remains a brief session of dancing. The dancing could be in a group of two persons and it is optional and no force on any member. A group composed of a man and a woman or a man and a man or a woman and a woman dance together. The dance group actually depends on the first person who is invited by the controller of the dancing session, called as drochi who holds on a red strip of cloth in his hand and strikes it on the person whom he invites to this session. When a person has come in the dancing ground then there is also his or her willing to invite a person, whether man or woman, to share with him or her the dancing expressions. This is perceived as an honour for the concerned person whom the previous dancer invites in this regard.
Closure of the Door for the Groom and his Entourage (S̃honiyer Bar Wũdrũk)
At this phase of wedding, there comes a very interesting brief event that the door is closed for the groom and his group including padarkhon and rawoc, so that they shouldn’t enter sooner in the house rather this specific group waits outside the door for sometimes. Through such measure, the groom is made realised that the social contract with a daughter of someone as wife is not that much easy, and though this means the groom is made conscious about the importance of the bride, also in gender perspective. In connection with the closure of the door, the groom and his group are required to give some sort of gifts, especially prevalent are a coat and the chest of a slaughtered and cooked sheep or goat (chũpan woz kla-e ppũz) to the persons holding on the door from inside of the house. The groom and his group are then allowed to enter in the house provided that the custom of “Bosh” has been passed. This event among the Chinese Tajik culture has got significance with itself, indeed.
Entering in the House (Ta Khun Chermũk)
After a short session of dancing, the wedding party delegates now enter into the house while the groom and his specific group, the marriage witness and the bride’s companion, are required to wait outside the house for sometimes, at least for half an hour or one hour . Besides these three members, however, the other delegates are warmly welcomed in the house by the hosts groups coming down in the yorch (a dancing platform in the traditional Wakhi house) by collectively saying in high voice as Khushomadid. In turn, then the guest groups stand at their places and pay their gratitude and in reciprocity say borikallhoh to the khushomadid. The hosts are then asked by the guests to take their seats.
Paying Bride’s Wealth (Bosh Shekhsũvũk)
At this stage, now, we need to recall our mind towards one of the crucial events during the marriage process: Confirmation of the Marriage Engagement [rimol tẽrsar], which would refresh us on this topic recently under discussion. In the aforementioned topic, we were talking about the bosh, the Bride’s Wealth, we had described that most of the bosh, which also includes the livestock, is essential to be brought earlier than the wedding or during the wedding day. This is the moment that after welcoming the guests, five members already selected among the groom’s delegates come out of the house and brings the bosh into the house. And that is why this event of the day is called as bosh shekhsũvũk , literally means ‘to carry out the rite of the bride’s wealth or price’. And connotatively it means to pay the bride’s price/wealth. In accordance with the specified stuffs of the bride’s wealth, fixed during rimol tẽrsar, are put into five big plates: the foodstuffs comprised of the big size of nans, called as pekhch and pakhtan and the cloths [betik] in the four big plates, and kept over the distorkhun, the meal/table cloth, in front of the khalifa/sayid sitting on the right platform [lup razh] of the traditional Wakhi house.
However, accordingly, all the concerned people present in the house see the bride’s wealth and it is crosschecked with the list of rimol tẽrsar to confirm whether or not all those commited items have been brought and requirement’s fulfilled. If something lacks, then, sometimes, it could be expected to come across some pinching arguments from the bride’s side over the fulfilment of the bride’s wealth. From the groom’s side, it is, therefore, very necessary to abide by the demands for the bride, as was compromised by both the parties during the time of confirmation for the marriage engagement. The khalifa/Syed, however, now offers prayers and the bride’s wealth is taken up and now the flour is sprinkled, which is the sign of good omen and pleasure, over the guests and all others present in the house.
Having Wedding Meal (Tuyi Yitak/Yitn)
After going through the process of bosh, both the parties are served the wedding meal firstly (in accordance to the Tajik tradition) to the guest party that includes the groom and all his delegates, and then, secondly to the host groups comprised on the bride’s party members.
When talking about the wedding meal in the Wakhi culture then a little description for the purpose of orientation vis-à-vis having meal and sitting or seating in the Wakhi house ought to be made. In accordance with the main internal structure of the house for the seating/sitting purpose, the Wakhi traditional house in the Tashkurghan County, and particularly in Dafdor, is divided into three main platforms, which are put̃ razh [small platform], lup razh [big platform] and past razh [down platform] respectively. Among these platforms are the poyga and nikard. Poyga is used for leaving one’s shoes off here and especially for the dancing purpose during the wedding day. Among the Hunza Wakhi, this portion is called as yorch.
The importance of the Wakhi Traditional House is because of its sophisticated Islamic architecture, which possesses the Shia Isamili Doctrine within itself. The details about the architecture of the Wakhi traditional house will be discussed in another chapter, which will give us a great clue in learning about the places of sitting or seating in a Wakhi house.
The lup razh on the right side is particularised during the wedding or other significant days in the Wakhi calendar for the khalifas/syeds along with the elders of the community and all the important guests whoever joins them in the concerned events. The put̃ razh on the left side is prominent especially for the bride, groom and their group soon after the wedlock ceremony. While the commoners, which includes the hosts, immediate family members and the children sit on the down platform called past razh.
Soon after having their wedding meal, as had been prepared for the last couple of hours started since last midnight, by both the affine parties, the ceremony of the wedlock takes place consequently.
Wedlock Ceremony (Nikoh-e Rasm)
The khalifa/syed, as mentioned earlier, sits along with the elders on the lup razh. The groom, rawoc, and the padarkhon must sit beside the khalifa/syed at this moment of wedlock. But interestingly, the bride does not sit along with the groom rather she, accompanied with her girl friends and women kin, is seated in the g̃hanz̃, an internal room of the house for wealth).
Apart from such essential categories of people, all other members of the wedding are also present in the house. The khalifa or syed, now starts reciting the wedlock prayers, continuing for more than five minutes, from the Holy Qura’an, and the Ismaili doctrine by Hakeem Nasir Khusraw Qabodiyoni, one of the great scholars: mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, theologian, musician, and one of the most prominent Shia Ismaili preachers of the 11th century.
The wedlock prayer is composed of both the Arabic and Persian languages . During the recitation from the wedlock prayer, dialogues in Persian also go on between the khalifa and the padarkhon. This religious authority asks the witness, or also named as advocate, of the marriage that where has he come from and where does he want to go? The padarkhon answers: “I had gone for a noble job and now I have come to advocate or witness for a noble cause” . This question is asked thrice by the khalifa and twice the padarkhon answers repeatedly and on asking the same question on the third time, interestingly the padarkhon takes a sudden pause and does not respond to the question, which focuses one’s attention immediately toward the witness. He is silent intentionally because the padarkhon wants some gift to be given to him otherwise, he’ll remain mute. At this moment, he is presented a red handkerchief, then he resumes his response as was answering twice before.
When the prayer is finished, padarkhon is asked to make the groom drink from the holy water, ob-e shafo, from his right hand. After doing so the padarkhon goes to the g̃hanz̃ , to make his fictive daughter, the bride, drink the holy water from his left hand. It is very interesting to note here the distinction of right and left hand used for giving holy water to the groom and bride respectively. What could be the justifications? As in many cultures the left hand is thought inferior than the right so is true in the Wakhi culture also. Padarkhon is a witness or advocate for the married couple, but more particularly he is like a fictive father to both the couple in accordance with the Wakhi norms. In front of a father, son has got some superiority over daughter and that could be the reason for having treated with the new spouses in terms of giving water to them by his right and left hands. Conversely, when we ponder scientifically, the priority of one hand on the other, it though seems ridiculous.
As the process of drinking the holy water comes to its end, sooner the put̃ razh is curtained/veiled with a long red cloth and the groom is shifted to the left platform of the house. The rawoc, groom’s female cousin or aunt but the companion for the bride en route to the neolocal, brings the bride from the g̃hanz̃ to the put̃ razh in order to sit beside the groom. And, this is the moment, the bride and groom do come closer to each other and stand together in front of the people. Now, the house master, bride’s father, or uncle, or brother, drops the sweets, qand/kampuet, over the heads of both the bride and groom, and the children sitting around them pick the sweets with great joy. This derives a sense that the bride and groom, being the heads of the day, are very wealthy, kind and generous towards the children and would also wish for themselves the children in their conjugal lives.
There may also rise a question that why the put razh, the small platform on the left side, is curtained by the red cloth? The indigenous people tried to justify it in such ways: (1) because the newly couple are the king and queen of the day and, therefore, must seen as more prominent than other peoples; (2) the new spouses should be protected from the bad sights of the malignant people, that is, from the witchcraft; (3) both the bride and groom should not hesitate seeing each other in front of all the people and should try to get some sort of orientation to one another in front of the others .
Special Offer to the Bride by the master of the House
As the new couple was seated on the put razh, who are now standing, then the master of the house, who could be either the bride’s father, or any of her brothers or uncles, if her father is died or absent, comes near and whispers in the ear of the bride by offering any special gift. Normally the offers could be so as the concerned master/guardian of the house would say: “I gave you a piece of land or a big cooking pot on this great occasion”,” and then he asks the groom and bride to take their seats on the put razh. This special offer of a gift we may associate as a part of the dowry to the bride. After the special offer to the bride, the mother or any of the aunts or elder sister comes and sprinkles the bride, groom, padarkhon and rawoc then this group is asked to sit down and these individuals take their places.
It must be kept in mind that from the house of the bride’s parents, a special pamiri he-sheep is slaughtered to the groom besides other livestock, as mentioned in the list of the non-grievances’ day, Khũdi’v-e rwor. This special pamiri he-sheep is given to the concerned individuals and the preparations for departure to the groom’s house is made.
Adios to the Bride and Groom (S̃honi-Bidg̃hanz̃ Trẽ Vẽdek Kẽt̃ak)
The time of the departure of the bride, groom and their party members has come to be focused now. The music group (a flute and two tambourine experts) start playing the Tajik wedding play and the singer starts singing in Persian on the beat of the music by saying: shoh muborakbode, podshoh muborakbode, shohi raw rawe, podshohi raw raw …… It means: King! Congratulation, King! Congratulation; the King is leaving, the king is leaving (for his next destination…).. It should also be noted that when the groom entered in the house of the bride’s patrilocal, along with the music the singers sung as: “podsho omadeh, podsho omadeh………., means that the king has come, the king has come…….
Now, along with this soz and naghma, music and song, all the delegates of the groom, and the parents, all the consanguine and affine relatives of the bride come out of the house. This is very significant to note among the Wakhis of China that unlike the Wakhis of Hunza Pakistan, there are no delegates on the way to the neolocal of the bride from her parents’ house or other members of her consanguine relatives. All the kin groups of the bride just come out of the house to see-off and say good-bye to their daughter and that is all. The parents and all other kin and kith meet the bride and many of them deeply weep; sometimes it happens that the bride becomes insane in result of leaving the members of her patrilocal plus other kith and kin for the neolocal. It is very amazing to note that at this critical phase the bride isolate from her relatives and not a single person joins her to her neolocal but rather the groom’s delegates take the bride, they sit in the vehicles or ride the horses or yaks and depart for the groom’s house.
Receptions en route to Bride’s Neolocal (Bidg̃hanz̃-e S̃heg̃hd Khun Nag Tẽr Vẽdek Shirughan)
As we know that en route to the bride’s patrilocal (i.e., father’s house), there were some receptions in honour of groom and his delegates on behalf of the groom’s kin, so is now on the way back to the groom’s patrilocal (and the bride’s neolocal or new house) that the kin group of the bride, and may also of the groom again, arrange for the receptions, shirughan. Both the bride and groom take initiatives to drink some milk. And, in response, may give something to the kinspersons in complement as rewards. The groups of the receptions are especially thanked for their sincerity and love. And, thus, all the party members do arrive in the bride’s neolocal or groom’s house.
Arrival in the Groom’s House (Dẽ S̃honi-e Khun G̃hẽtak)
With great pomp and show by playing music and singing song on the way to the groom’s house (the bride’s neolocal) the wedding party arrives here. The kin and kith in of the groom including men, women and children come along with shirughan out of the house to welcome the bride and groom, in particular, and the entire delegate members, in general. On the one hand, the bride is received enthusiastically while on the other, for a while music and dance continues on the sweet melody of the nay (Tajik flute) and doriya (tambourine).
When the time of entering the house comes, the wool side of the pamiri sheep’s skin, or a big piece of cotton, is put at the first door so that both the new spouses step onto it and then enter in the house. The sheep’s skin or the cotton is put under the step of the new couple only and afterward the skin is taken up and given to a poor person so that he or she could sell it or make the Tajik cap out of it, as the traditional Tajik cap is expensive, indeed.
When the groom, bride, padarkhon and rawoc entered in the Tajik house, all these four members go to the right platform, lup razh, and stand there. The father or uncle or elder brother, whoever is the guardian of the groom, asks the bride and groom to take their seats but they do not sit down. Just like in the bride’s patrilocal, the master in the groom’s house offers a piece of land or something significant to the groom and his wife then they sit down.
Now the musicians start playing music. The drochi, a person responsible for inviting the guests and controlling the crowed, asks the concerned persons to come down to dance. This dancing programme remains more or less for twenty minutes, all the guests are served with tea and arzuq, and then on behalf of the groom’s house a pamiri sheep is brought into the house in honour of the bride. The khalifa or Sayid offers prayers and then it is slaughtered. This is called Bidg̃hanz̃-e Mihmoni-e Kla (Sheep or goat of the Bride’s Reception and as Guest of Honor).
Till the cooking and preparing of the bride’s reception meal, the music and dance resumes again.
The guests are offered wine. Drinking wine is not compulsory but rather depends on the mood and option of the concerned individuals. There are many people who do not drink and dislike it. In this connection, the women folk are very strict and do not like those who drink whisky or other types of wine. But, for sure, it has become a part of the Tajik culture due to openness in this regard in Chinese societies. When wine is offered by a male host to a guest and if it is not drunk, the concerned guest may be deemed as rude and the host may become unhappy, which was experienced by myself also, when I refused drinking at all in Dafdor during the wedding.
When the bride’s reception meal gets ready, the cooked mutton is presented to the guests. Among the Wakhi Tajiks, the head of a slaughtered animal values greater and it is, therefore, presented to the prominent guests. In connection with this wedding, the prominent guests of this day are, of course, the bride and groom plus their panel members, padarkhon and rawoc, who are the king and queen and advisors of the day, and the slaughtered sheep’s head is, therefore, served to them. While all other guests are, in addition, served with the foods, pullaw and qurdoq, prepared this morning especially for them with a lot of efforts and enthusiasm.
After serving and having the wedding meals, the khalifa or syed offers prayers to thank God for the food and for the solidarity, unity, goodwill of the new spouses. The master or head of the house thanks all the invitees and kin for coming to wedding. And special gratitude is also paid to all those volunteers, the consanguine, affine and fictive relatives, who cooperated by working day and night and contributed immensely towards the concerned wedding family. Thus, this grand programme of the Wakhi wedding ceremony among the Wakhi Tajiks of Dafdor and of Tashkurghan Tajik Autonomous County in Xinjiang comes to an end.
POST-WEDDING ENGAGEMENTS AND CEREMONIES (Tuy en Cẽbas-e Rũjisht)
When the wedding ceremony comes to its end, it doesn’t mean that the process ceased here rather again some customs of this affinal relationship continues ahead with the passage of time, and strengthens the bond of this newly established kinship relation. In this connection, let’s have a look of certain important customs, which play their role in Wakhi culture of Tashkurghan County.
Custom of Offering Breakfast or Luncheon (Nori-e Rasm)
Nahar is an Arabic word used also in Persian, which means ‘luncheon’ or ‘day’. This term is also frequently used in the Tajik languages and vernaculars more particularly after the end of the marriage ceremony among the Tajiks of Tashkurghan to signify the luncheon or breakfast brought and given to their affinal relatives, the son-in-law’s patri-lateral family, and particularly to the new conjugal family.
After one-day break of the wedding ceremony, the affinal kin of the husband, which comprise of ten or maximum twelve women, and no men, visit their newly affinal kin’s (son-in-law’s) house. These affinal kin of the husband, mostly the closed consanguine kin of the husband’s wife, bring along with them a sheep or goat per member and also a normal size of baked-breads (nan).
On the way back, the husband would make suits to all the visitors came for the nori. The suits to all the members of delegation comprise of one scarf and two metres of cloth or one long coat for each delegate.
There may rise a question that what could be the logic of this custom to be celebrated just after one-day break of the wedding? The significance, of course, is there, and it seems very interesting as well as amazing to note.
It was related that whereas the last night after the wedding celebration, both the new couple spent together and during the first night, the husband observes the virginity of his wife whether or not she has been involving in any sexual affairs with any male members of the concerned society. The bed of this new-mates includes a white bed sheet on top of the mattress. After having the intercourse with his wife the husband observes her in terms of bleeding coming out of her sexual organ. In the morning, a mature woman of the house goes to see the position. If there has been bleeding, it would be on the white bed-sheet. Thus, the bleeding on the sheet signifies the virginity that is the wife was untouched sexually, otherwise it is deemed that she has remained in affair with someone or many. Hence the connection of this custom is for this purpose.
When the wife’s kin visitors, after having entertained, leave for their houses along with the suits made for them, then from the family of the husband a needle along with crossed red or black thread is put on the top of the distorkhun, the cloth put over the breads. The red thread signifies the bleeding coming out of their daughter while the black thread reveals that there was no bleeding at all. The red thread, therefore, is a sign of good omen–veneration; and the black thread as the sign of bad omen–great insult for the wife’s consanguine family.
Social Impact of Virginity Criterion
This kind of criterion to measure the virginity sometimes accompanies a negative social impact also. Certain measurement, to some extent, may be valid culturally and could not be, to a greater extent, acceptable scientifically. In terms of the former it would be valid, as the girls were used to couple in their puberty; but criterion would be disagreed medically from its standpoints. For instance, if a young girl has lift a heavy load or has done hard exercises or got late marriage after the age of puberty or otherwise could also be responsible for the sexual bleeding besides having physical intercourse with the opposite sex. Thus, in certain cases, the aforementioned criterion fails in measuring the virginity of a wife in the first night of or after the wedding, which could, also become harmful socially. And in a rare instance, it has been observed in the study locale that the husband divorced his wife when there was no bleeding out of her in the first night. Then the wife approached the court and after the deep investigations, with the collaboration of the medical doctors, the case was decided in favour of the wife as she had bleeding during her ailment. Thus, the wife got her social status restored.
First Visit of Daughter to Her Parents’ House (Trẽ Khun Yundak)
It is indeed very significant to note that among the Wakhis of the Tajik County, the wife is expected customarily to visit her parents and other consanguine relatives after one-year of her marriage . During this period of one-year, in case, if there happens any sorts of emergency like death, illness or otherwise, then the wife is supposed to visit her parents or other consanguineal kin in order to keep in touch with them.
Trẽ Khun Yundak is a Wakhi term, which literary means ‘taking to the house’; but euphorically it is valid especially for the first visit of the married daughter, after her marriage, to her parents and other consanguineal kin.
When the time of Trẽ Khun Yundak comes, the concerned family, whether extended or joint or nuclear, of this new couple starts preparing, which are somehow reciprocal, for the foodstuffs and other gifts–like clothes or cloths, coats, scarves, goats and sheep–to be presented to their one year old affine kinspersons.
The study of one month (November 2000) through purposive sampling in the research locale, Tashkurghan County with special focus on Dafdor, the border settlement with Pakistan, showed that there are varying aspects regarding the Chinese Wakhi Marriage System.
The Wakhis consider marriage as a sacred relationship, which brings heavy responsibilities upon the life-partners. This enables the mates to regulate sex and procreate children; makes the life partners loyal and sincere to one another, upgrades the social status of the mate, and transfers heritages, in kinds and values, to his offspring; inherit the assets to their sons. The children ultimately care of one’s parents till their last breath and also take responsibility of their other immediately closed kin.
The Wakhis prefer getting marriage in relation to some of their set-options that preference-wise follow in this manner: Wakhi with Wakhi; Wakhi with Sariqoli (Sarikoli); Wakhi with Sariqoli (Choryori); Wakhi with Wakhi (non-Chinese national); Wakhi with Panjtani; Wakhi with Muslim; Wakhi with revealed book-holders; and Wakhi with Kafir (infidels.
Parentally arranged marriage, collateral marriages, polygyny, levirate and sorroate marriages have been in practice traditionally but the promulgation of the Chinese Marriage Law in 1980 did its immediate impacts on the Wakhi community. Now there is neither the practice of polygyny nor the collateral cousin marriages; but rather up to the third degree of generations, no one can marry his or her cousin. However, this is interesting to note that some of the community members, when enquired, are of the opinion that the collateral cousin marriages will be preferred again provided that the Chinese Marriage law in this connection is lifted.
Even though, the system of Khun-Domod marriage, permanent residence of husband in wife’s patrilocal after marriage, has been traditionally with the Wakhis. This practice is still prevalent among these people; but the youth these days do not regard it that much and argue that they do like to be a sort of slave for their parents’-in-law.
Furthermore, the youth prefer to have love marriage or the marriage of understanding between both the expected life-mates rather than depending upon the choices of their parents or other closed kin. However, there are also some youth who are in favour of parentally arranged marriage by advocating that their parents can know better for their children.
Previously, there used to be early marriages but now the Chinese law has restricted the people to the age-fixation: 20 for a girl and 22 for a boy. Thus, this has reduced to a greater extent the early child birth.
Previously, there was no limitation for the number of children. Now the rural Wakhis, like other minority ethnic groups, may produce three children; while the urban Wakhis can have no more than two children.
The Chinese Wakhi community, like other patriarchal societies, prefer son over daughter, even though they are presently restricted for two or three children, but if they have no son within prescribed number, the desire for son remains.
It was interesting to note that the Chinese Wakhi Marriage System differ to a considerable extent from their neighbour Wakhi community of Hunza Valley in may respect. On the other, there are also some grounds where both can resemble also but in different way.
Some features of differences are in terms of Rimol TẽrSar, second phase of Engagement, which is like a wedding party; Bosh Ktak, fixing the bride’s price; absence of any member in accompanying the bride from the latter’s side. In addition, it is also amazing to note the Nori e Rasm, a post-wedding ceremony in which breakfast or luncheon to the members of the bride’s neo-local, and in this ceremony the result of bride’s virginity test by her father comes out. While among the Hunza Wakhi, Rimol Tr Sar, is called as Chilgak, engagement, and they do not have two phases of engagement. The Hunza Wakhis do not fix any bride’s price but rather little requirements for the bride like two pairs of cloth, a pair of shoes, a scarf and a necklace are bought by groom in order to confirm his rights over the bride and the bride puts on those stuffs. Furthermore, a dozen or two members from the bride’s side accompany her rather it is incumbent to take five persons in addition to the total party members came with the groom. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that there is no ceremony of nori among the Hunza Wakhi community. Besides, there are also some features that resemble both communities of the same ethnic group that include ‘kinship system, the types of marriage, some steps of the marriage system like informing the girl’s parents for the first time; and the like.
However, fully comparative studies on Kinship and Marriage System in the Wakhi Societies of the four adjacent nation states as well as other countries of residence) will be required in the near future so that to know these people deeper and appropriately in terms of the similarities and differences and the rationales behind within and out of their respective cultural contexts.
Backstrom, P. 1992 c: Wakhi. In: the Socio-linguistic Survey of the Northern Areas of Pakistan (Ed.), Islamabad, National Institute Studies & Summer Institue of Linguistics.
Bidulph, J. 1880: Tribes of the Hindukush. Calcutta, (Reprinted Graz 1971, Karachi 1973)
Bonavia J. & co-authors 1992: The Silk Road: From Xi’an to Kashgar. Guide Book Company Ltd. Hong Kong.
Dani, A.H. 1996: Central Asia Today. Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore.
Felmy, Sabine 1996: The Voice of Nightingale. Oxford University Press, Karachi.
H. Qudrat Ullah Baig 1980: Torikhi Ahdi Atiqi Riyostati Hunza (in Persian). S.T Printers, Rawalpindi
Inayatullah, F. 1996: Wakhan: Awindow into Central Asia. Alqalam, Islamabad.
Keesing M. Roger 1981: Cultural Anthropology, New York College Publishers, New York.
King J. 1989: Karakoram Highway: the road to China, lonely planet.
King J. & co-authors 1996: Central Asia. Lonely Planet Publications, Hawthorn.
Knight E.F.?: Where the Three Empires Meet. Muhammad Book Stall Gilgit
Kreutzmann, H. 1991 a: The Karakoram Highway: The Impact of Road Construction on Mountain Societies. In: Modern Asian Studies 25, S. 711-736.
Kreutzmann, H. 1996: Ethniziatät im Entwicklungsproze: the Wakhi in Hochasien, Berlin.
Kreutzmann, H. 2000: Livestock Economy in Hunza: Societal Transformation and Pastoral ractices. In: High Mountain Pastoralism in Northern Pakisan, Fronz Steiner Verlag, Stutgart.
Mock, John 1998: Discursive Construction of Realities among the Wakhi Community of Gojal (Doctoral Dissertation), University of California.
Moonis Ahmar: The Contemporary Central Asia (Ed.). Agha Jee Printers, Karachi.
Sahlins, M. D. 1968: Tribesmen. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.
Salahuddin A.K. 1996: Anthropology as Science. Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore.
Salzmann, Z. 1973: Anthropology. Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich, Inc., New York.
Sara Safdar 1997: Kinship and Marriage in Pakhtun Society, Lahore, Pak Book Empire.
Schusky, Ernest, L. 1965: Manual for Kinship Analysis. Holt, Rinehart Winston, New York ……
Shahranni, M.N.M. 1979: The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: Adaptation to Closed Frontiers. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London.
Weihen, Z. & Qiingnan, ?: In Search of China’s Minorities. Beijing, New York Press.
Weinstein Jay 1997: Social and Cultural Change: social science for a dynamic world. Needham Height, USA
Wen Qi 1989: China: A General Survey. Foreign Language press.
Yusouf Shoh Y.S. 1994: Tojikon: Piromouni Ethnoginiz. Dusham
For the completion of any sort of work, it requires support from different angles, which varies in its nature that is from the intellectual to physical and from the moral to monetary/financial, and from individuals to collective. A research work needs all these sorts support, and especially the last category of support (financial), which has its crucial significance and without that a research may not come to an end. Therefore, in connection with my M. Phil programme and “the research project: Kinship and Marriage in the Chinese Wakhi Society, Xinjiang – being an academic requirement for the partial fulfilment of the degree of M. Phil”, I was supported by some selective personalities.
Human being is in a way very selfish that he/she associates and credits any sort of completed task with him/her and doesn’t heed that the the specified task would have concluded with any potential support . Being a believer, one must not forget that a man just like the tools of God acting and performing with His williing. However, the first and foremost, I am very much thankful to Almighty Allah who conferred me with His kind blessing during all my academic years, and particularly during the course of this adventurous project which got completed.
Secondly, I am indebted from the bottom of my heart to the German couple-scholars and my great teachers-friends, Prof. Dr. Hermann Kreutzmann and Sabine Felmy who very graciously provided me the intellectual feedbacks and ever encouragements multiplied by their sincere financial support during the course of my studies and the research; and their intellectual tips that proved as the gem for me, indeed.
Along with this, I am very much thankful to my respected elder brothers, Rehmat Ullah Baig and Ghulam Amin Beg, and my dear parents, sister Shamshad plus other siblings and uncle Ghulam-ud-Din who very kindly financed and encouraged me during my academic years, set me free for getting higher education and without their support, I would have never been able to continue my academic endeavours. There may be injustice, if I forget to pay my cordial gratitude to my wife, Nadia Sultana, whom I have left at home (in Gilgit) and am far away from her (in Islamabad-Peshawar) just after two months of our marriage. It was her kindness and love that she encouraged me, espcailly at this critical moment, in pursuing my academic mission and endeavours. .
This study project would have never completed without the sincere assistance and facilitations of many individuals, both at academic level and in the field. In this connection, I pay my gratitude to all those uncountable individuals, both in Pakistan and China who did not know me properly and provided me ample information on the theme of research. In the reseach locale, all the resource persons’ and more particularly the major resource person’s role could never be forgotten.
I am very much thankful to my respected teacher and supervisor Dr. Adam Nayar, an experienced anthropologist, the Research Director of Lok Virsa, Ministry of Culture, Islamabad, and the Visiting Professor, Department of Anthropology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, who very kindly paved the way by inculcating me the basics of Kinship and Marriage, and advised me how to take the data in the field specifically. Lateron, when I processed the data, he went through this dissertation and gave his valuable feedback. My special thanks go to Prof. Dr. Sara Safdar, my co-supervisor and Chairperson, Department of Social Work, University of Peshawar, who kindly accepted to supervise my work and, being experienced in this field, guided me very well. On the topic as well as other themes in cultural anthropology, Mr. Muhammad Taieb, lecturer, Department of Anthropology, university of Peshawar, remained a good source to me and, therefore, along with our friendship and classmateship, I consider him my teacher as well; and therefore I extend my gratitude to him who encouraged me in having this anthropological research.
I am very much indebted to Dr. Azmat Hayat Khan, Director Area Study Centre (China, Russia & Central Asia)and all other faculty members who admitted me in this reputed institution of learning in University of Peshawar, and it was this esteemed platform which enabled me to improve myself and strengthened my confidence academically. I want to express my warmest gratitude to Dr. Muhammad Anwar Khan, the former Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar and the founder and former director, Area Study Centre, who taught us the research methodology during our course work (October 1998-May 1999) as before this period I was never acquainted with the ABC of research.
At the time of processing the filed data on my computer, I needed the Wakhi font (IPS) so that to transcrive them appropriately. In this connctioni, I am thankful to Peter Backstrom and Michelle Backstrom, the linguists in the Summer Institute of Linguistics, USA who provided me the IPS and that enabled me to record the Wakhi terms precisely.
Furthermore, I would like to pay my homage and tributes to all the research contributors on the Wakhi in relation with other Iranian lanuages and culture which broadened my view on the Wakhi to a greater extent, and opened new avenues and questions while consulting the literatures.
I am very much thankful to my sincere friends Dr. Aziz Ullah Baig and Khuda Dad who very graciously provided me additional data on the Wakhi people by seaching the websites, which were, of course, very fruitful to me in broadening my knowledge. Besides them, I would also like to extend my gratitude to Ustad Gul Baig, Ustad Muhammad Aslam, Mr. Nasir Karim; and my friend Qayum Ali Shah and Muhammad Ali who encouraged me in having such studies and provided some literatures also.
En route to Tashkurghan, I have been helped by many friends, as the road was blocked for more than two weeks and then we had to cross the Hunza River twice, ascending and descending the arduous mountains of Gojal Hunza. I am particularly very thankful to Mr. Khalid, and then other friends like Safarik, Amjad, and Inayat who helped me physically, which was a great encouraged to me as I have got the Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). While on the way back, Haji Bulbul’s humorous company was very entertaining.
Finally, I would like to thank Mr. Sultan Mehmood and my sister Feroza Mehmood, Mr. Fayaz and family, and my elder sister Hussan Parveen in Rawalpindi who very kindly provided me openhearted support during the finalisation of this dissertation while staying with them in Islamabad. In addition, the encouragements given to me by many of my friends are unforgettable, and especially Mr. Akbar Hussain, an employee in the Serena Hotel, Islamabad, and Ali Member, a brilliant MBA student of Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.
The last but never the least I would also like to acknowledge any kind of errors and omissions that soley are mine own.