A berdel, or double marriage, is the marriage of a brother and a sister to another brother and sister. It is a very elaborate matchmaking process which involves two families essentially swapping daughters to marry each others sons. It requires several meetings of both families to discuss many marriage details like when and where the daughters shall meet to switch families and be brought back to their new homes to be wed. It is a very intricate and stressful procedure and if not followed correctly, could end up in the cancellation of both marriages.
One of the advantages of the berdel is avoiding the mandatory donation of a bride price. A bride price is a certain amount of money from the groom's family or highly valued property or possession, given to the bride's family for the loss of a daughter, a worker and a member of the family and community. A bride price today may range from $2,000 to upwards of $7,000. The bride price will compensate for the loss of labor that the bride and perhaps her future children will be providing to another family. The bride price also reimburses that bride's family for all the effort and time put in to raise the bride who will be joining another family. In Turkey, where Ersen based this article, it may be difficult for families to raise enough money to pay a bride price. This is a good reason for arranging a berdel, where no bride price is necessary - just the swapping of two sisters to join each other's families. When a sister is not available to marry her brother's prospective wife's brother, a niece, cousin or other close female relative is then offered instead.
Another advantage of arranging a berdel is to maintain favorable political and economic alliances. Since new national arrangements involving redrawing of borders (including Syria, Iraq
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and other neighbouring countries) forced many of the remaining Turkish people to begin leading more sedentary ways of life as opposed to...