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Function[ edit ] Bridewealth is commonly paid in a currency that is not generally used for other types of exchange. Instead, it is a purely symbolic gesture acknowledging but never paying off the husband's permanent debt to the wife's parents. For instance, in Middle-Age Europe, the family of a bride-to-be was compelled to offer a dowry —- land, cattle and money —- to the family of the husband-to-be. Bridewealth exists in societies where manual labor is more important than capital. In Sub-Saharan Africa where land was abundant and there were few or no domesticated animals, manual labor was more valuable than capital, and therefore bridewealth dominated. An evolutionary psychology explanation for dowry and bride price is that bride price is common in polygynous societies which have a relative scarcity of available women. In monogamous societies where women have little personal wealth, dowry is instead common since there is a relative scarcity of wealthy men who can choose from many potential women when marrying. It is not the payment of the bride price that is prescribed, but the regulation of various aspects: Ketubah The Hebrew Bible mention the practice of paying a bride price to the father of a minor girl. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins. If a man find a lady who is a virgin, who is not pledged to be married, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man who lay with her shall give to the lady's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has humbled her; he may not put her away all his days. In the Jewish tradition, the rabbis in ancient times insisted on the marriage couple's entering into a marriage contract, called a ketubah. The ketubah provided for an amount to be paid by the husband in the event of a divorce get or by his estate in the event of his death. This amount was a replacement of the biblical dower or bride price, which was payable at the time of the marriage by the groom. This innovation came about because the bride price created a major social problem: So, to enable these young men to marry, the rabbis, in effect, delayed the time that the amount would be payable, when they would be more likely to have the sum. It may also be noted that both the dower and the ketubah amounts served the same purpose: The only difference between the two systems was the timing of the payment. In fact, the rabbis were so insistent on the bride having the "benefit of the ketubah" that some even described a marriage without one as being merely concubinage , because the bride would lack the benefit of the financial settlement in case of divorce or death of the husband, and without the dower or ketubah amount the woman and her children could become a burden on the community. However, the husband could refuse to pay the ketubah amount if a divorce was on account of adultery of the wife. In traditional Jewish weddings, to this day, the groom gives the bride an object of value, such as a wedding ring. Ancient Greece[ edit ] Some of the marriage settlements mentioned in the Iliad and Odyssey suggest that bride price was a custom of Homeric society. The language used for various marriage transactions, however, may blur distinctions between bride price and dowry, and a third practice called "indirect dowry," whereby the groom hands over property to the bride which is then used to establish the new household. Mentions of them preserve, if they have a historical basis at all, customs dating from the Age of Migrations c. A mahr differs from the standard meaning of bride-price in that it is not to the family of the bride, but to the wife to keep for herself; it is thus more accurately described as a dower. In the Qur'an , it is mentioned in chapter 4, An-Nisa , verse 4 as follows: And give to the women whom you marry their Mahr [obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage] with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it without fear of any harm as Allah has made it lawful. Islamic law considers it haram for a husband, the groom's family or the bride's family to take the mahr of the bride without her willful decision. Dower Morning gifts, which might be arranged by the bride's father rather than the bride, are given to the bride herself. The name derives from the Germanic tribal custom of giving them the morning after the wedding night. The woman might have control of this morning gift during the lifetime of her husband, but is entitled to it when widowed. If the amount of her inheritance is settled by law rather than agreement, it may be called dower. Depending on legal systems and the exact arrangement, she may not be entitled to dispose of it after her death, and may lose the property if she remarries. Morning gifts were preserved for many centuries in morganatic marriage , a union where the wife's inferior social status was held to prohibit her children from inheriting a noble's titles or estates. In this case, the morning gift would support the wife and children. Another legal provision for widowhood was jointure , in which property, often land, would be held in joint tenancy, so that it would automatically go to the widow on her husband's death. Africa[ edit ] In parts of Africa , a traditional marriage ceremony depends on payment of a bride price to be valid. In Sub-Saharan Africa, bride price must be paid first in order for the couple to get permission to marry in church or in other civil ceremonies, or the marriage is not considered valid by the bride's family. The amount can vary from a token to a great sum, real estate and other values. The amount includes a few to several herd of cattle, goats and a sum of money depending on the family. The cattle and goats constitute an integral part of the traditional marriage for ceremonial purposes during and after the original marriage ceremony. The beasts and money are not always paid all at once. Depending on the wealth of the groom he and his family can enter into a non written contract with the bride's family similar to the Jewish Ketubah, in which he promises to pay what he owes within a specified period of time. This is done to allow young men who do not have much to marry while they work towards paying off the bride price as well as raising a family or wait for their own sisters and aunts to get married so they in turn can use the amounts received to offset their debts to their in-laws. This amount must be paid by his family in the event he is incapacitated or dies. It is considered a family debt of honor. The bride price tradition can have destructive effects when young men don't have the means to marry. In strife-torn South Sudan, for instance, many young men steal cattle for this reason, often risking their lives. In , it held an international conference on the bride price in Kampala , Uganda. It brought together activists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa to discuss the effect that payment of bride price has on women. Delegates also talked about ways of eliminating this practice in Africa and elsewhere. It also issued a preamble position in Especially it was complained, that the bride price once taken, should not be refundable if the couple should get a divorce. The case was heard in September but lost against the Uganda Government. Changing customary law on bride price in Uganda is difficult as it is guarded by society, which is especially in the rural areas approving its relevance. The whole culture of the People of Ankole is deeply connected to the institution of bride price. Its custom connects families for a lifetime and women are proud on the extremely high value they receive, comparing to the Baganda or the Rwandese. It is not rare, that the groom has to give his bride huge amounts of cattle and also a house, car and other property. Of course depending on the "value" of the bride schooling, degrees but also on his own possibilities. This corresponds with the bride price customs in China; the rich one has to give - otherwise it can be even taken by the brides family forcefully. On the other hand, a rich man marrying an educated woman, who has spent millions on her education in the expensive Ugandan education system, are willing and proud to "show up" and pay. To show the whole world - and especially the whole family of the bride - who they are and what richness they achieved. It's a question of honor. But there are also others, who take loans to be paid back within many years, just to marry the woman they love. In other instances, people marry at an advanced age, as they still need more time to acquire enough property to marry their wives officially. Customary law is also considered more than just bride price but other rituals and ceremonies that enrich Ugandan cultures. Of course, next to constitutional changes, changes in customary law would be necessary to abolish the practice. In sub-Saharan Africa, the visits between families to negotiate the bride price are traditional customs that are considered by many Africans to be central to African marriage and society. The negotiations themselves have been described as the crucial component of the practice as they provide the families of the bride and groom the opportunity to meet and forge important bonds. The price itself, independent on his value, is symbolic, although the custom has also been described as "the license of owning a family in the African institution of marriage". In some African cultures, such as the Fang people in Equatorial Guinea , and some regions in Uganda , the price is considered the "purchase price" of a wife. One point of critics says, that the husband so might exercise economic control over her. The majority ethnic group of Equatorial Guinea , the Fang people practise the bride price custom in a way that subjugates women who find themselves in an unhappy marriage. Divorce has a social stigma among the Fang, and in the event that a woman intends to leave her husband, she is expected to return the goods initially paid to her family. If she is unable to pay the debt, she can be imprisoned. Although women and men in theory have equal inheritance rights, in practise men are normally the ones to inherit property. This economic disadvantage reinforces women's lack of freedom and lower social status. Elders controlled the marriage arrangements. In South Africa, the custom survived colonial influences, but was transformed by capitalism. Once young men began working in mines and other colonial businesses, they gained the means to increase the lobolo, leading elders to increase the value required for lobolo in order to maintain their control. The tradition would involve the bridegroom's family paying to the father of the bride. The amount of money of the niqda is reached at by negotiation between groups of people from both families. The social state of the groom's family influences the amount of the bridewealth that's ought to be paid. When the matter is settled to the contentment of both menages, the groom's father may kiss the hand of the bride's father to express his chivalrous regard and gratitude. These situations are usually filmed and incorporated within the wedding video. Folk music and dancing is accompanied after the payment is done, which usually happens on the doorstep, before the bride leaves her home with her escort usually a male family member who would then walk her into the church. Various names for it in Central Asia include Kazakh:
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