Ancient Tribal Marriage Traditions
In short, marriages were largely arranged for women. Courtship, in which two partners would evaluate their comparability, was not practiced. All evaluations concerning in which love could blossom was a sink or swim mentality that was practiced only within the bounds of wedlock.
As love was not an expected prerequisite to marriage, there was little to no fuss over families or the Gorbesh in question consenting to a union. While tribal law did not require a man or woman to consent to marriages, gaining the individual's approval was a common practice and it was generally the father's duty to consult their daughters before betrothing them.
For the very small percentage of matches that were done without the approval of the female, it was not uncommon for one of the female to maim, kill, or divorce the unwanted partner. If a marriage ended in divorce, the woman held the absolute right to choose a husband. For this reason, among the larger tribes, it became law that a woman had the absolute right to choose a husband and held the final say on if a marriage were to happen from the beginning, but it was still the father's responsibility to make the arrangements. In the case of a father being unavailable, a female's brothers or closest male relative could step in and accept a suit or pursue one, even against her wishes in smaller tribes.
While love was very often not the reason matches were arranged or agreed upon, the Gorbesh were and are very much a passionate people, though outwardly reserved.
Arranging the Marriage
As females within a family typically moved to live with their husband, it was felt that the value of the female must be compensated to the family, so a bride price was expected to be offered as a suit to the father or stand in. This price was exacted in tasks, gifts, and promises that were meant to ensure the suitor would not mistreat the prospective bride.
By the time Xin'Alaudas brought the tribes together into a united Empire, this practice of acquiring a bride price had begun to change into the practices held today and is the direct result of many traditions from all of the tribes blending.
Current Practices Among the Kaldar
In current times, the discussions between suitor and father are largely symbolic, as the entire power over accepting a suit resides firmly in a bride's control. The bride may decide on tasks, gifts, and promises that the father will demand of a suitor. If the results are satisfying, it is expected for the bride to accept the suit and the marriage.
In the situations where a father, brothers, or another male family member is not able to play this role, a bride may choose another intermediary or perform the discussions of the bride price herself.
- Loose hair
- The hair is left unbraided or tied and without any other adornments save the circlet.
- There is no special clothing worn by the bride, though more modern weddings have seen tunic-style dresses and overdresses adorned with simple, bold embroidery and trimming.
- There is no special clothing worn by the broom, though more modern weddings typically see natural fiber outfits and heavy use of furs.
Pre-Wedding Rite of Passage
Largely unchanged throughout the years, the ceremony has been largely similar among the various tribes, but may vary in certain regions.
If a suit is accepted and marriage has been arranged, a date is set and the marriage -- seen as a rite of passage marking the change in status from two individuals to a social unit -- process begins with the individuals separating themselves from larger social groups, destroying and removing all forms of their previous social identity, and creating a new identity via ritual and/or instruction.
Females are sequestered with their mother, sisters, or any other female family members of their choosing, and are marked with a undecorated metal circlet to denote the ending of their maiden status. This circlet is worn until the day of the wedding. During this separation time, a female is instructed on how to properly honor her suitor in marriage, and how to ensure she is treated properly.
Males are sequestered with their father, brothers, or any male family members of their choosing and are required to obtain an ancestral weapon belonging to a forebear for use later in the wedding ceremony. This sometimes involves locating the graves of past family members in a quest that could very well place the man within mortal harm. In truth, not all returned from such quests in ancient times, but in recent days, the quest has become highly ritualized, and friends and family will dress up as specters and place a weapon somewhere for the male to recover.
The encounter is utilized to remind the male of his responsibilities to family, history, and heritage. During this separation time, a male is instructed on how to properly honor a bride in marriage.
Once the new identity was constructed, the individual would reintegrate themselves into the larger social group of their community and take on any new social roles that came with their transformation.
Once the two individuals are fully prepared and dressed, the ceremony begins by invoking the attention of the gods and in tribal times, included the public sacrifice of an animal that was to be used in the feast. This practice was disbanded at the formation of the Alaudian Empire and the sacrifices is now done privately.
Next, the family of the bride exchanges the simple circlet with an elaborate bridal crown. Often woven from straw, wheat, reeds, or other natural substances, the crown was meant to symbolize promised wealth of health. It was often decorated with fresh flowers.
Following this, the suitor offers the newly acquired weapon to the bride, who is charged with holding it in trust for a son, or first born if a son is never born. In exchange, the bride gives her own sword, or a sword made for the occasion, to the suitor. This exchange is followed with the exchange of rings worn either on the finger.
After this, a feast was held for one night. On the following day, if the couple still wished to remain in their marriage, they visited a temple and exchanged their finger-worn rings for arm-worn rings upon which they swear oaths to consecrate and keep their marriage. The couple then exchanges the rings by placing them on the hilt of their swords and offering them to each other. At this time, the female is considered fully wed and may choose to wear a traditional woven brocade headband to signify her new status.