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Anna Shurguchinova, Maria Mudzhikova, A Well Wish to a Bride

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Anna says that when a bride arrives at her husband’s house, people utter a well-wish for her as follows: ‘May the new bride be happy and successful. May she be prosperous in her new home and be healthy. May she stay healthy and not be affected by cough or flu. May she be happy. May she have children and work for the benefit of her new family. May she sit with a ‘straightened-out hemline’. May she be loved by her new relatives.’ This well-wish carries information on the traditional life style of Kalmyks. For example, cough and flu were considered the worst illnesses. As there was no medication, people could easily die from the ailments. This well-wish also contains interesting metaphors, such as ‘kolyan jiikh’, which literally means ‘to relax one’s legs’ in Kalmyk but actually stands for ‘giving birth’. Nomadic life required that people spent long periods of time on their feet. It was only during childbirth and the ensuing recuperation period that women could sit and have a proper rest. Another metaphor, ‘khormagan delgyad suukh’ (lit. ‘to sit with a straightened-out hemline’) means ‘do not be shy or fear anyone’. If a bride sits with her body curled and the hemline of her dress hidden under her feet, this means that she is either afraid of something or hiding a sinful act that she has done.



Well wishes, bride

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin