Ibn Foszlans Und Anderer Araber Berichte Über Die Russen Älterer Zeit


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I saw the Russians [vikings] who had arrived with their goods and set up camp on the bank of the Itil [Volga]. I never saw people better developed physically, they are straight and tall like palm-trees, pink and red of complexion. . . . When one of their chiefs has died, the family asks his boys and girls: "Which one of you wishes to join him in death?" Then one of them answers: "I do." As soon as he has spoken this word he is bound and is never given an opportunity to change his mind. Should he insist on being let off, no attention is paid to it. For the most part, however, it is the girls who volunteer. Consequently, when the man whom I mentioned above had died, they asked his girls: "Who wants to die with him?" One of them said: "I do." Then she was put in the charge of two other girls, who were to guard her and accompany her wherever she went. At times they even washed her feet. The people then busied themselves with matters pertaining to the dead man, made his shroud and did whatever else had to be done. Meantime, the girl drank every day, sang, and was happy and contented . . . she walked up and down and finally went into one of the tents that they had there. Then the resident of that tent lay with her and said: "Tell your master that I did this only because of my love for you."

When Friday afternoon arrived, they led the girl to a structure they had erected and which resembled at the top the projecting cornice of a door. She stepped on the upturned palms of the men, looked down upon this cornice and in so doing said something in her language, whereupon they let her down. Then they let her step up again and she repeated the procedure. Again she was let down and then the same ceremony was repeated a third time. Then they handed her a hen, she cut its head off and threw it away. The body of the hen, however, was taken and thrown into the ship. I inquired of the interpreter what she had done. "The first time (he replied) she said: ’Lo, here I see my father and my mother!’; the second time: ’Lo, now I see all my dead ancestors sitting (together)!’; but the third time: ’Behold, there is my Master, he sits in Paradise. Paradise is so beautiful, so verdant. With him are his men and boys. He is calling me; bring me to him!’" Thereupon they led her away to the ship. But she pulled off both her bracelets and gave them to the woman whom they called the Angel of Death and who was to kill the girl. She also removed her anklets and handed them both to the girls who had served her and who were the daughters of the woman called the Angel of Death. Then she was placed on the ship, but was not yet allowed to enter the tent (kubba) [of the corpse]. Now the men arrived with shields and staffs and handed her a goblet of intoxicating liquor (nabis). She took it, chanted and drank. This, said the interpreter, is her manner of saying farewell to her dear ones. Thereupon a second goblet was handed her. She took this, too, and started a long chant. Then the old woman ordered her to hurry, empty the goblet, and step into the tent where her Master lay. But the girl had become frightened and undecided; she wanted indeed to go into the tent, but only put her head between the tent and the ship. Immediately the old woman grasped her by the head, brought her into the tent and went in with her. At once the men began beating with their staffs on the shields, so that none of her cries should be heard, which might frighten the other girls and make them disinclined eventually to follow their masters in death. Then six men stepped into the tent, each and all of whom lay with the girl. After that they stretched her out beside her Master. And two grasped her by the feet, two by the hands. And the old woman, called the Angel of Death, put a . . . rope about the girl’s neck and gave the free end to two men who were to pull at it. She herself stepped up with a large, broad-bladed knife which she sank between the ribs of the girl and then withdrew it again. And the two men strangled her with the rope until she was dead.1

1Frähn, C.M.n/an/an/an/a, , 5–18, passim.

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Chicago: Ibn Foszlans Und Anderer Araber Berichte Über Die Russen Älterer Zeit in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed July 21, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TT72S2DJMG5K3Z1.

MLA: . Ibn Foszlans Und Anderer Araber Berichte Über Die Russen Älterer Zeit, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 21 Jul. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TT72S2DJMG5K3Z1.

Harvard: , Ibn Foszlans Und Anderer Araber Berichte Über Die Russen Älterer Zeit. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 21 July 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TT72S2DJMG5K3Z1.