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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Ancient courting customs

   
Author Topic: Ancient courting customs
TaleSpinner
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Could anyone please point me towards a reference on ancient courting customs? I'm interested in megalithic times, but pagan customs or perhaps those of tribes that have been isolated from modern religions would be fine.

I want to know:

Would they have been monogomous? (I need a 'yes')
Would man and woman have chosen each other? (I need a 'yes')
How would they have chosen each other and courted? (Dance? Prim and proper? Romp in the woods to check compatibility?)

Google has gotten me as far as "handfasting" but I need the lead up, the bit before they promise themselves to each other.

My only references at the moment are the Flintstones, and those cartoons where the man bops the woman over the head with a club and drags her off by the hair :-(

To be clear, in the hope of avoiding the creation of a thread of elevated temperature, I'm not asking whether ancient ways were right, moral or otherwise, but just what they might have been.

Thanks in advance,
Pat


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halogen
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Might not be the right area...

quote:
Navajo Traditions
http://www.weddingdetails.com/lore/native.cfm
White corn meal symbolizes the male and yellow the female. The Navajo combine the two meals into a corn mush and put it into a wedding basket before the traditional ceremony.

The Navajo bride was an equal partner to her husband. The couple would share the maize pudding during the ceremony to symbolize the marriage bond.


quote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navajo_people#Cultural_characteristics
Historically, the structure of the Navajo society is largely a matrilocal system in which only women were allowed to own livestock and land. Once married, a Navajo man would move into his bride's dwelling and clan since daughters (or, if necessary, other female relatives) were traditionally the ones who received the generational inheritance (this is mirror-opposite to a patrilocal tradition). Any children are said to belong to the mother's clan and be "born for" the father's clan. The clan system is exogamous, meaning it was, and mostly still is, considered a form of incest to marry or date anyone from any of a person's four grandparents clans.


quote:
Would man and woman have chosen each other?

You might have luck looking at the history of Matriarchy.

[This message has been edited by halogen (edited December 09, 2007).]


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debhoag
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Whew! when you said ancient, I thought you were going to be asking about the eighties. I still have disco ball nightmares.

Try info on hunter gatherers. My memories of that (only slightly fuzzier than my memories of the eighties) are much like the Navajo tradition. Matralinial, because it's easy to know who the mother is, perhaps a rule for smaller groups that they only marry outside their own tribe, may or may not have extensive ceremony, husband joins wife's family/clan, and dissolution is possible by either party.


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Zero
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Sounds like you're talking more about the 70's there Deb.
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debhoag
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shh! I represent that remark!

[This message has been edited by debhoag (edited December 09, 2007).]


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skadder
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...or carnival folk.


Whoops, I think I was carnivalist. Sorry.


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TaleSpinner
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Thanks for the pointers, halogen and Deb, most useful.

Oddly, I had some Navajo ideas in mind already, and searching on hunter/gatherers has led me to realize the story is actually set in the late bronze age.

Good to see you around again, Deb.

Cheers,
Pat


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debhoag
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right back at you, Talespinner!
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Grovekeeper
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TaleSpinner,

There are so many ancient cultures to choose from, perhaps the questions you should be asking are not "Would they have been <however>?", but rather "Could they have been <however>?"

Social mores develop because of the influences imposed by the environment in which a society exists, and (unless you're writing historical fiction about a known culture -- in which case disregard all of this) you have the freedom to shape that environment in such a way that it shapes the moral code your characters follow.

If you need monogamy in your story, provide an environmental reason for your characters to practice it. This can be done on many different levels; perhaps in your society's history, it was noticed that people who slept around died more often than people who did not. Plausible actual reason: STD. Reason plausible to bronze-age characters: The gods frown upon promiscuity and smite those who are not monogamous, and now it's religious law, despite the fact that the disease no longer exists.

-G

[This message has been edited by Grovekeeper (edited December 10, 2007).]


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Robert Nowall
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I'm at a loss. If you want your characters to be monogamous, man and woman, and a specific method of choosing each other, just go for it and arrange your details accordingly. What little anthropology I've read suggests there are a wide variety of courting customs to choose from or base your stuff on. Good luck.
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TaleSpinner
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Thanks Grovekeeper, Robert.

Pat


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