on these occasions, partly on the statements of infoants.1
Initiative lies with the father of the groom. In theory, the young people themselves have no say at all, and the women can only suggest and advise. It is the household head who decides, and it is he who makes the formal approach. In fact, a boy's own wish may often influence his father's choice, and even a girl of strong character and skill may be able to exercise some influence. As for the women, marriage is their main interest, and their gossip and planning must be a major factor in the decision which is formally their husband's right.
A boy is normally married between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two or so, though there are always exceptions. Three or four men told me of marriage in their very early teens. `My understanding did not suffice' (aklim yetmedi), one of them commented. In one of these cases, the household desperately needed more womanpower; in the others, a very poor boy or an orphan was married by his seniors to the widow of an older kinsman before the opportunity slipped away. At the other end, one or two men married late, either from poverty or from prolonged absence from the village. I knew no confirmed bachelors.
Girls are normally married at about fourteen to eighteen years of age. Orphans and the very poor are sometimes married even younger. One woman described her early marriage. Neither she nor her husband yet knew what to do - `we were ashamed (utandik)' - and she found the work expected of her very hard. By contrast, the oldest normal unmarried girl of whom I heard was said to be twenty-three. No explanation was offered by people; but her father was very rich and important for a villager, and probably family prestige was a major factor.
Once a man has fixed his choice, he goes with, or sends, one or two close kin, and a respected senior man less close to him as negotiator, to pay a formal visit to the girl's home. They are received by a similarly constituted committee, and negotiations are conducted with great delicacy through the intermediaries. I was told in Sakaltutan that a bride price is agreed at this meeting, and a first' instalment (hecelik) is expected either on