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Marriage Customs Of Tripoli

( Originally Published 1897 )

The following description of a wedding which took place in Fezzan about fifty years ago will serve to show how marriages are celebrated by the Mohammedans of Tripoli. The Sultan had given two of his cast-off women in marriage to two of his own slaves : one of these was his secretary and barber, the other his groom. For several days there were gay doings in the little square before the mosque. The first night the barber and secretary (who was the greatest man of the two) was seated in state on a carpet and mats placed on the ground, in the centre of the square, supported on each side by a friend, who, as well as himself, was covered with fine borrowed clothes, though the bride-groom of course showed most bright. He was very solemn and dignified, having a lighted candle and lamp placed on the ground before him. The men and women sung round him until near midnight, treating him with great respect. He held a fan in his hand, and occasionally bowed to the company. The bride was then brought from the castle, surrounded by a great concourse of women, who were vociferating in rapid succession their cries of joy. She held a lighted candle in her hand, and had on a profusion of silver and bead ornaments ; she was quite black and very handsome, and had borne three children to the Sultan, all of whom had died. The bridegroom did not deign to look at her, but suffered the procession to pass along to his house ; when, after waiting about half an hour, he rose in a stately manner, and leaning his hands on the friends who walked on each side of him (in the manner of the Bashaw of Tripoli and the Sultan of Fezzan) he slowly proceeded home, the dancers following him and singing songs of congratulation. The second night passed in much the same manner, and on the following day the bridegroom, who had been a few hours before glittering in scarlet and gold, was seen cleaning a horse in the street, with a ragged shirt on.

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