Sworn Virgins of the Balkan Highlands

  • Marija Brujić University of Belgrade, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ethnology and Anthropology
  • Vladimir Krstić Nazarbayev University, School of Sciences and Humanities
Keywords: honour, social anomaly, sworn virgins, traditional ritual, Western Balkans

Abstract

Once widely spread in the Dinaric Mountains part of the Balkan Peninsula swearing to virginity was a social and cultural custom recorded among all groups inhabiting the area. In the absence of a capable adult man in the household, a daughter would take over his social role by ‘becoming’ a man. The standard explanation is that the function of this practice is enabling the continuation of the household’s economic, social, and religious activities. We argue that this explanation fails. A better explanation is that, because the lack of a particular kind of a man (competent and honourable) was perceived as a shame in these societies, the primary reason for swearing to virginity was saving family honour.

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Published
2022-01-05
How to Cite
1.
Brujić M, Krstić V. Sworn Virgins of the Balkan Highlands . Traditiones [Internet]. 2022Jan.5 [cited 2022Jan.28];50(3):113–130. Available from: https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/traditiones/article/view/10554