The dowry: every bride's pride


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A rich dowry of linen, furniture and porcelain was once important for young women to make a good match in the village and marry befittingly.

Dowry bridal cabinet Bridal chest control cabinet

In wealthy families, the dowry was collected in a richly painted cabinet

To give the daughter or granddaughter bed linen, towels and aprons for their later married life, hardly anyone comes up with this idea today. The dowry, it seems, belongs to a very distant past. It was customary until the 20th century to hedge young women materially in this way. The extent of the dowry was, especially in the country, even decisive whether a wedding took place at all - both the girl and the young farmer were anxious to make a good match and to marry befittingly. The extent of the dowry was dependent on the financial circumstances in the future bride's family. An indispensable component was the white linen, so bed covers, nightgowns, tablecloths and napkins as well as kitchen towels and aprons. Partly brought only the required material in the form of linen bales in the marriage or just flat bundles from which only the yarn had to be spun. If possible, the excise duty should be so comprehensive that the whitewash was sufficient for life.

The white wash

White linen Table linen Bed linen

Bedding cover from 1920 embroidered with birds and flowers

Not only the future bride and her female relatives sewed the white linen and affectionately embroidered the garments with ornaments and the girl's initials. Those who could afford it, before the wedding also had so-called St├Ârschneiderinnen come, who went from farm to farm and took over a part of the sewing work. The dowry for the daughter was compiled for years and in well-off families in a bridal cabinet or a chest and visitors proudly presented. In the 19th century, the cupboard and trunk were magnificently painted, with flowers or pictures of saints and of Mary. Also blessings were in frills on the cabinet doors, also the initials of the proud owner and the year of the wedding. This piece of furniture was then with other furniture such as marriage bed, table, chairs and cradle a part of the bridal equipment. Laundry and furniture were not only important for the foundation of the household, but also for the confirmation of the social position within the village community.

The "beautiful chamber"

Room chamber closet

The "Beautiful Chamber" - this is where the furniture brought into the marriage was set up

In Lower Bavaria it was customary for wealthy big farmers to place the furniture brought into the marriage, ie bed, night box and cupboard, in a separate room - the "beautiful chamber". In the closet valuable textiles were kept, which, however, like the entire room, usually not used. It served only the representation. To show what one has, was also the purpose of the Kammerwagentag, which took place in many Bavarian villages until the 20th century. On the Saturday before the wedding, the dowry was loaded onto a car and driven to the bride's future home. She sat on top of the car among the pieces of furniture, often accompanied by a maid or her siblings. If the dowry also included livestock, this joined the small procession. However, if the dowry was very modest, borrowed things from friends and good neighbors to present them on the train through the village. However, it was said to be modest, the car was loaded too lush, playful one as a tailor his reputation in the village. Later, the borrowed pieces were returned - and one had to settle for what the bride had actually brought into the marriage.

Video Board: Brides for sale - Bulgaria's Roma marriage market | DW Documentary.

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