Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/201

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tices it with disinterestedness and pleasure. His tent, whether in his presence or absence, is always opened to the traveler, and food and drink in abundance are given him The tents of the Yuruks are square, and made of a sort of thick black woolen cloth.

Aside from the information I have given here, nothing precise is known of their private life. For instance, nobody ever knew what became of their dead, as no one has ever seen a cemetery. All I am able to say is that the body of the deceased is placed on a black mule, destined exclusively for that use, and thus carried to a mountain. There, I am not aware whether it is cremated or buried; but, as I was told that they also take a sheaf of firewood, it is safe to believe that cremation takes place.

No traveler has ever seen a Yuruk pray according to any rite. Yet it seems that they are not left without religious instruction, as a venerable old man, his hair dressed as a Persian dervish, comes once a year from Syria and remains awhile among them. The pilgrim becomes the object of their respect and devotion, and they give him the name of father.

Now, who is this man? What affinity between him and these Turkomans? What does he teach them? Why do they call him father? All these questions involve as many mysteries.

Men are often absent in the woods or on the mountains, and their wives remain alone in the tents, but they are secure from all danger, as they have weapons and know how to use them. Among the women they select one in each tribe whose age and personal merits render her deserving of distinction, and they invest her with a superior authority. All the women show her a profound veneration and blindly obey her orders. Even men kiss her hand, and it is customary that every stranger who arrives in the tribe should do the same.

All people agree in acknowledging the good morality of the Yuruk, also his peaceful character, his sober habits and honesty. The very thought of stealing is a crime in his mind, and the weapons he carries he only uses for personal defense.

Here are a few interesting details about the way their marriages are contracted: First of all, I must say that no religious ceremony is performed, as they have neither mosques nor priest, and no person among them is invested with a sacred character. Marriages among young people of different races are strictly prohibited. Therefore, when a young man has remarked among the girls of his tribe the one whom he would like to marry, he delegates a third person, who is usually a friend, to the father of the girl, to announce his intention. If the father sees no objection' the delegate presents him a small sum of money, and that gift in their dialect is called aghirlik—that is, weight. Afterward the