Village Wedding 13: The Trousseau Chest

The Trousseau Chest, originally uploaded by Josh and Julie.

As Mehmet and his wife return with Ayşegül to their home where Eren waits, they must wait for the bride’s trousseau to precede her into the house. This chest, filled with the greatest samples of crocheting and lacework produced by the bride throughout her life, will be waiting in the bridal suite and accompany the couple the rest of their life.

Naturally, I wasn’t present at the girls’ henna night the previous evening (the tamer Turkish equivalent of a bachelorette party, it happened while the men were dancing), so I will turn to other sources here for more information on the henna night and the trousseau. Traditions vary even within central Anatolia (a friend from near Ankara told me their traditional weddings don’t feature a trousseau chest), but I think this account from the “Your Guide to Turkey” site is pretty close to my experience in Eshenler:

On the day the henna night is to be held, or a few days earlier, the trousseau is taken from the girl’s home and brought to the man’s, and the bridal chamber is prepared. The trousseau is sometimes exhibited to the guests for a few days in the girl’s home before the wedding, and in the man’s home during and after it. It is a widespread tradition that someone sits on the trousseau chest, asking for a tip as it is taken from the girl’s home. In addition, in the early hours of the day the henna night is to be held, a group of women from the bridegroom’s family take the henna that will be placed on the bride’s hands and feet, her clothes and the food that will be offered to the guests to the girl’s home, again to the accompaniment of great festivities. The women who gather in the girl’s home on the henna night have fun for a while, but later try to make her cry by singing sad songs. Henna that has earlier kneaded with water is brought in on a tray surrounded by candles and placed in the middle of the room. In some places, the henna is first put on the hands of the bride and then distributed to the guests; in other areas the henna is first distributed to the guests, and only after everybody has left is it placed on the bride’s hands. If the woman so wishes, henna can also be placed on her feet and hair. Considerable attention is paid to charging a woman with a happy marriage, called the “basi bütün” (meaning “whose head is complete”, In a sense, this describes her as someone who has a complete family with husband and children and whose marriage is whole, not separated by divorce) to knead and distribute the henna and apply it to the girl’s hand. The woman places the henna on one of the bride’s hands, and a young girl places it on the other. Before the henna is applied, coins or gold are also placed in her hands.

Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-400, f/13, 1/320 sec.

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~ by anatolianimage on July 14, 2009.

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