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The young people of both sexes enjoy perfect liberty within the recognized limits of manners and propriety. . . . But with marriage the scene changes. The word which the young woman pronounces at the altar, in accepting her husband, is the last that is for a long time heard from her lips. From that moment she never appears, even in her own house, unveiled. She is never seen abroad in the public streets, except when she goes to church, which is only twice in the year, and then closely veiled. If a stranger enters the house or garden, she instantly conceals herself. With no person, not even her father or brother, is she allowed to exchange a single word; and she speaks to her husband only when they are alone. With the rest of the household she can only communicate by gestures, and by talking on her fingers. This silent reserve, which custom imperatively prescribes, the young wife maintains until she has borne her first child, from which period she becomes gradually emancipated from her constraint: she speaks to her newborn infant; then her mother-in-law is the first person she may address; after awhile she is allowed to converse with her own mother, then with her sisters-in-law, and afterwards her own sisters. Now she begins to talk with the young girls in the house, but always in a gentle whisper, that none of the male part of the family may hear what is said. The wife however is not fully emancipated, her education is not completed, until after the lapse of six years, and even then she can never speak with any strangers of the other sex, nor appear before them unveiled.1

In parts of Africa the organization of life on a property basis and the extraordinary value of women in this connection lend themselves to the informal exploitation of sons-in-law, to delays over a period of years in relinquishing the bride to the husband’s group, to unique ramifications of marriage from the property standpoint, to protracted deliberations and negotiations over the suitability of marriages, and to a complicated network of legal safeguards.

1n/aHaxthausenvonn/an/an/an/a, , 226–227.

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Chicago: Transcaucasia in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024,

MLA: . Transcaucasia, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: , Transcaucasia. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from