National Geographic : 1942 Jul
Roaming Russia's Caucasus Sovfoto A Daughter of Daghestan in the Caucasus Offers a Drink of Cool Mountain Water Her brass water jug is an example of old North Caucasus craftsmanship. For generations these moun taineers have excelled in metalwork. Most celebrated are their exquisitely hand-wrought silver daggers, swords, and cartridge cases. famine times as much as a fourth of the popu lation has been tubercular as a result of hunger and bad living conditions. In winter the lack of food caused a large part of the male population to migrate to the lowlands and hire out for work in the vine yards. Recently, however, the men have begun to work at home as lumbermen. Funeral and Marriage Feast Combined We learned from Svan acquaintances in Taurari that an old man had just died and that my former donkey driver had married. The result was a banquet in celebration of both the funeral and the wedding. The food for a banquet is provided in com mon by the whole village, since the villages are for the most part clan settlements in which everyone is related. Long tables and benches are set up in the open before the church, facing the mighty snow-capped moun tains. The whole village is invited to partake of Cousin Uman's stuffed barley bread, old Anton's baked squash, and real Russian tinned fish. The tables were not even cleared in the afternoon when the funeral was transformed into the wedding. The only change was that the priest now performed a religious service, which I did not understand, and the women mourners who had sobbed, beaten their breasts, and sung in falsetto tremolos long enough, were allowed to go home. I was amazed at the immense quantities of food which the Svans consumed in one day, perhaps to compensate for leaner times.