KUGLIM GENDER ROLES AND WEDDING PRACTISES

GENDER ROLES - ADULTHOOD RITUALS - WEDDING TRADITIONS

COURTSHIP, ENGAGEMENT AND WEDDING - PUTTING ASIDE

This entry represents a dissertation on Kuglimz ideas concerning gender roles, adulthood rituals and marriage practises, discussing the differences and similarities between the various tribes and basic ceremonial procedures.

Gender Roles. The Kuglimz tribes tend to have varying beliefs when it comes to gender roles. The Fird'gormz and the Fal'cone tribes are the two with the most rigid and inflexible beliefs. In their eyes, the man is the worker, the warrior and the protector; the woman is the hearth-keeper, the bearer of children. Both these roles are equal in weight or status, but any gender crossover behaviour (little girls playing with their brother's weapon toys, or little boys cuddling baby dolls) tends to be strongly discouraged. In these tribes, a woman who wants to be a warrior is viewed as some sort of warped creature, a Meeh'kah'mari, or a "sheep [that behaves] like a wolf". She would not be permitted to be one, would gain disfavour in the tribe's eyes, and might have trouble finding a mate. As for those who prefer their own gender, they are usually ostracised and cast out, although only by these two tribes. In the clans of the Helvet'ine, the Trk'matiu, and the Lyr'Teimor, these people are seen as, perhaps, a little unusual, and may be subject to mild teasing or jesting, but they are not held to be unacceptable.

In most things, as before mentioned, these other tribes are more flexible. Although it is traditionally the male role to fight and provide food, women may hunt or participate in battles if they wish to, though this is uncommon, especially after child-bearing. Men may, and many do, help their wives with "womanly" tasks, such as preparing meals, caring for children, and so on. This is usually when the wife is ill, has just borne a child, or is otherwise indisposed, but not necessarily. However, there is still a very clear conception that certain tasks or behaviours are "womanly" and others are "manly".
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Adulthood Rituals. These rituals are very important to all the Kuglimz peoples and tend to be quite similar. Both are marked by blood, and indeed, the Kuglimz people will say of a newly fledged warrior or recently matured young woman that he or she has "shed the blood", i.e. become an adult. Boys begin their serious training for adulthood at age six, when they go to the Dirg'vlaz, or armsmaster, for training in various weapons: the bow, the lance, the sword, the longstaff and others. At age twelve to fourteen, a boy will accompany his father or the other men of the tribe into battle. When he makes his first kill, melts down the armour of his fallen foe, and makes it into a "Fei'put" or blood ring, for his hair, he is considered to have achieved manhood. This is cause for great celebration among the men. If the boy has achieved physical maturity, his father or other male guardian may bring him to a willing adult woman to teach him about sex, how to please a woman, etc. (This is usually a widow or divorced woman who does not wish to remarry but prefers to provide sexual services for unattached men.[1] This does not occur with the Fird'Gormz people but is fairly common among the other tribes. The boy is expected to remain at home with his parents until he reaches the age of about 18, when he may live on his own, or marry and set up a new household.

For girls, recognition of adulthood comes with the Put'daei'vir, or first menstrual period. This usually occurs between the ages of thirteen to sixteen. Before this, she may not be given in marriage (though she may be promised). This is an occasion for a special celebration among the women of the tribe. The girl is welcomed into the women's group, is taught about men, sexuality and her role as a (prospective) wife and mother, or in the less restricted tribes, her choice of role as something else (i.e. warrior, bard, wise woman, etc.) how to prevent or encourage conception, and so on. She is then expected to take on adult responsibilities but usually lives in her parents' home until she is married.
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Wedding/Marriage Traditions. Although there are several tribal variations among the different groups, there is a basic wedding ceremony that is similar for all the Kuglimz people.

A Kuglimz wedding is an excuse for tremendous festivities. All tribal feuds and clan fights are suspended (it is considered highly dishonourable by all the tribes to attack any clan during wedding celebrations, so this is not done). The Kuglimz word for wedding is “Lim’us” (lit. “family blend”, or the mixing of two families.) A Lim’us is considered to be both a legal and a religious binding. All married couples are expected to wear the wedding jewel, known as the Turl’zovr (lit. “heart stone”, or ruby) which is usually set into a ring, pendant, bracelet or other piece of jewelry and given to the beloved. Both husbands and wives exchange them, though his is more commonly set in iron and hers in silver. These are not worn until the actual ceremony has taken place, however.

Except for the Fird'Gormz tribal beliefs, it is not rigidly expected that a young couple must wait until the wedding to have sexual relations with one another. However, discretion is required and a pregnancy occurring well before the wedding causes the couple to be looked on with some disfavour, as not having good-self-control.
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Rules of Courtship, Engagement and Weddings. If it is a young couple who wishes to marry (both or one under the age of 16, each will individually inform their parents of their wishes and the parents will make the arrangements. During this time, expensive gifts will be exchanged between the families (fine horses, carefully crafted leatherwork or garments, furs, gemstones, etc.) It is a point of honour to give the best gifts each family is capable of making. This is to establish good family relations, but also subtly indicates which family is wealthier (a high status point) and thus which family will be responsible for the majority of wedding expenses. Once this has been established to the satisfaction of both families, the preparations can begin.

Often marriages may be arranged between couples by their parents. This does not require the couple’s consent if it is a long-standing arrangement, though this custom is becoming less common among the Helvetine, the Trk’matiu and the Lyr'Teimor Kuglimz.

With an older couple, the negotiations are usually between the man and the woman themselves. Gifts are then not formally exchanged, except for the offering and acceptance of the wedding jewels.

Everyone in the tribe is expected to contribute both foodstuffs for the lim’us feast and a gift for the couple. This gift may be in goods or services. It is perfectly acceptable to approach either the ewyn’lim’us (lit. “wedding woman” or bride) or the fa’lim’us (lit. “wedding man”, or groom) or their parents, to ask what their needs are.

A Kuglimz wedding is a three-day affair, during which all members of the tribe feast, drink and celebrate. The actual ceremony takes place on the first day.

Early in the morning after breaking their fast, the woman and the man are taken into the separate custody of friends or family and bedecked in as much finery as they can carry. A bride carries much of her wealth in jewelry - heavy golden bracelets, necklaces bearing jewels, anklets, and rings - so that when she moves about, the mara’yan (lit. “golden music”) may be heard. This is considered very sensuous and beautiful. Beneath all the gold and ornamentation, the bride wears a simple, ankle-length dress of white, to symbolize the Allmother, Lier’tyan. In the winter, this dress may be made of white furs (shir, sheep skins or possibly even white bear). In the summer, it is usually made from light cloth such as linen. If the bride is from a very wealthy family, she may even have a white feather gown made by a skilled amanter.

An unmarried woman usually wears her hair long and loose, or tied back in a “Kev’lor’gant” (horse’s tail). A bride’s hair is ornately braided with brightly coloured ribbons, usually greens and blues, but any colours may be used. Married woman typically wear their hair in two simple braids.

The groom, meanwhile, is dressed in finest deerskin leathers that have been dyed a bright gold or yellow to symbolize the All-Father, Sur’tyan. Most of his jewelry will consist of the iron rings in his hair, if he is a warrior. Although many Kuglimz men like bright ornamentation, it is not traditionally worn on their wedding day.

After dressing, everyone goes to the wedding place. For the Kuglimz-torik (non-nomads) this is generally a temple or meeting hall, depending on the size of the group. The nomadic tribes gather in the open, or under a large temporary longhouse (made of hides and poles) that can be erected within minutes if the weather is bad. The Dirg’mystrume ("Battle Leader", or ruler) and the priests are responsible for the ceremony.

The wedding begins with a procession. Once everyone is assembled in two groups (males on one side, females on the other) the parents of the woman and then those of the man (assuming they are still living) walk to the front of the meeting room, between the groups. The parents face the assembly, turn to each other and join hands, palm to palm. They then separate and walk to the sides but remain standing at the front facing the group.

Then the groom walks to the front, followed by one of his younger male relatives (cousin, brother, nephew, etc.) under the age of ten. This child is dressed as identically to the groom as possible and is responsible for carrying the wedding jewel in a small brightly ornamented bag, which is tied around his waist. The bride proceeds after him, followed by a similar young female attendant carrying the wedding jewel in the same fashion. The use of young children is traditionally supposed to confer fertility upon the couple. When the bride reaches the front, she and her groom join hands and stand before the Dirg’mystrume and priest.

Once everyone is at the front and in their respective places, the priest delivers a short pronouncement concerning the couple and their wish to join. During this process, the parents are asked to indicate their support of the marriage and new family created, which they do by making a short statement of their love and a promise to stand behind their children. Then the whole group is asked to promise support for the couple and their marriage and any children created through the marriage. This they do by repeating a statement to “stand by and for this new family” after the priest.

Then the couple sings their promises to each other. Most couples make their promise songs together, in consultation with a bard, who will play during this time, though some prefer to do it themselves. Other than promising to love, nurture and stand by each other, the promise songs may state whatever else the bride and groom wish. They exchange their wedding jewels at this time.

The priest then pronounces the joining complete in the eyes of the Allfather and Allmother and the Dirg’mystrume pronounces it complete in the eyes of the people. The bride and groom join with their parents in a multi-person embrace and everyone cheers loudly. The new couple dances from the meeting hall, making “golden music” and quickly proceed on horseback (a white horse for the bride and a golden one for the groom - horse’s coats may be dyed or bleached to achieve the desired effects) to their new residence, where they change into more comfortable clothes and then join the guests and family at the wedding feast. This takes place as immediately after the ceremony as possible.

The rest of the day is spent in feasting, dancing, singing, storytelling, famous battle and hunt re-enactments, and so on. This continues for two more days, though the bride and groom are not required to be present for most of it if they do not wish to be.

The groom is excused from all traditional duties (fighting, hunting, etc.) for six full moons after the marriage. This is to provide him with plenty of time to be with (and hopefully impregnate) his new bride. During this time friends and family provide them with portions from their hunts and so on.

The man is traditionally expected to be the provider for the family. In most tribes, women are not excluded from fighting or hunting but they tend to become less involved in such activities after having children.
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Putting Aside. This is quite rare in Kuglimz society, but it occasionally happens that a husband and wife become thoroughly disenchanted with each other and wish to separate. In order to do so, they must go through six moons of mediation, usually with a priest or a tribal elder known for his or her wisdom. If at the end of this, they cannot be reconciled, they must go through a formal, public ceremony of “putting each other aside”. This consists of publicly declaring the wish to do so, exchanging the wedding jewels and, after removing them from the pendant, bracelet or whatever they have been set in, smashing them to pieces with a hammer. The metal parts are melted down. However, instead of being reused (since they are thought to be unlucky) these pieces are carefully reserved by the priests to be sent as trade goods to the Southerners.

Reasons for putting one’s spouse aside may include such things as: unfaithfulness, severely brutal treatment, barrenness, and a disinclination (not inability[2]) to provide for one’s family. These are not the only reasons, but they are the most commonly accepted ones. A man or woman who has been put aside is free to re-marry, though they may be regarded with some caution by a prospective mate, depending on the reason for being "put aside" in the first place.
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[1] There is no social stigma attached to this position, provided the woman is discreet and does not solicit or accept offers from married men - a serious crime in Kuglimz society. [Return]

[2] If a man is unable to provide for his family due to disability (battle injuries, disease, etc) the tribe takes over the responsibility of providing for the spouse and children until the oldest male child is able to take on the role of hunter/fighter, or the woman remarries. [Return]

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