National Geographic : 1936 Jan
WITH THE NOMADS OF CENTRAL ASIA THIS COQUETTISH MAID MIGHT BE THE FAMILY'S FORTUNE But her father holds out for a bridal price of forty horses! The old Kirghiz, living by the side of the trail, has an excellent opportunity to display his prized possession. Wayfarers say that the schemer will never get his price, even though she may be a beauty. seated when introduced. The host mo tioned for us to take the seats of honor in the back center of the yurt facing the door. Ala Beg had told me our host was a Tatar who had married a Kirghiz. From living for several months among the Tatar city merchants I knew them for an aristocratic and snobbish lot. Any city Tatar marrying outside the pale-marrying a Kirghiz, or nomad Turk-certainly would be ostra cized. After his marriage our host, rather than face a hostile Tatar society in the city, had chosen to bring his wealth and bride and live among his wife's people in the mountains where, because of his large pos sessions and city breeding, he was looked up to with awe and respect. The women were grouped off to one side in the capacious yurt. The daughter, round-faced, robust, and really quite nice looking, was making a dress of some gay colored piece of cloth evidently brought from Soviet Russia. She showed her Tatar upbringing in the good taste and style of her dress as well as in the care and neatness of her person (see page 4). Her mother was pouring out a kettle of mare's milk for us to drink, while the old grandmother, easily distinguishable by her sunken toothless jaws and the yards and yards of white homespun cloth wound into a tall headdress, was leisurely churning some freshly drawn mare's milk in a colt skin. TURKISH TOWELS FOR "HOPE CHEST" A little Kazak servant girl, seated with her feet curled up under her, was embroid ering Turkish towels. She was obviously helping the daughter, a prospective bride, complete her dowry (see page 41). While the host was questioning me about the state of affairs in the great Islamic city of the sultans, Ala Beg literally crawled off and entered into conversation with the women; it was easy to see that my guide had a way with the ladies. The Tatar several years previously had received from Istanbul a letter written in the new Turkish script and he asked me to read and translate it for him; he sent his wife and daughter to another yurt to hunt for the letter in the trunks.