Ritual Marking of Non-Regulated Conception in the West Bulgarian Marriage Cover Image
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Обредното обозначение на нерегламентираното зачеване в западнобългарската сватба
Ritual Marking of Non-Regulated Conception in the West Bulgarian Marriage

Author(s): Petko Hristov
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Институт за етнология и фолклористика с Етнографски музей при БАН

Summary/Abstract: The article has been devoted to the symbols of the ritual practices involving a bride, which is not a virgin, in the traditional Bulgarian wedding. In the set of rituals of Bulgarian traditional culture, which is agrarian in type the idea of a woman who has conceived outside the sanctioned boundaries correlates her biological capability to conceive and give birth with unacquired, undesignated fertility, which is generally "dangerous" for the patriarchal family. In the patrilinear and patrilical marital model, based on the patronymic principle of the establishment of the big integral family (patriarchal clan), which survived the longest in West Bulgaria, the woman's reproductive life has to start at the sanctioned point and at the place sanctioned by tradition, i. e. in the wedding ritual. At the moment of the marital intercourse, her husband is the one, who by cutting the first furrow and "sowing" his semen, initiates the start of the woman's sexual (reproductive) life, making it socially sanctioned. In this manner he provides legal offsprings of his family and family name, ultimately securing the immortality of the patriarchal clan. The woman who has placed her reproductive capacity outside the rhythm of conception and childbirth regulated by the patrilocal marital model, viz. a woman that had conceived out of marriage, the bride who is not a virgin, the mother of bastards, a maiden or a widow, as well as the adultress-whore that had conceived outside of the patriarchal house from a strange man has left the circle "made holy" by the patriarchal tradition and has excluded herself from the ritually sanctioned rotation of fertility, securing the immortality of the male clan. The symbolism of the actions performed with women who had had an unsanctioned conception in the Bulgarian wedding correlates the unaccomplished, socially unmarked conception of a woman with the "other" fertility, dangerous to the patriarchal clan; this is designated in natural, most often zoomorphic ritual symbols: she is referred to as "a bitch in heat", "a mating woman" (similar to the mare or female donkey in mating), etc. In this particular marital model, conception resulting from undesigned fatherhood entails chaos, natural cataclysms, violated rotation of fertility in the patriarchal household as well as in the entire village (community); on the level of world outlook it entails violation of order in the socium and in nature alike.

  • Issue Year: 1996
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 62-72
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: Bulgarian