From the very birth, a dowry was collected for a girl in a Russian family. And in the state treasury there was even a separate item of expenses for the dowry of girls from the royal family.
"Reception of the dowry by painting", 1873 Vasily Pukirev.
Today, in developed societies, it is believed that marriage should be for love, and earlier it was an economically profitable union for both parties (although no one canceled feelings either). And the more noble and well-off families were, the more thoroughly they approached the search for a partner for their child.
One of the important criteria was the presence of a certain property of the bride — this was how her family demonstrated its well-being in order to attract a noble husband. Since after the wedding, the woman was on the support of her husband, the dowry was a kind of contribution of the wife to the family economy and her "insurance" just in case.
At the same time, the husband could dispose of his wife's dowry only with her consent, he had no rights to her premarital property. And this rule was valid for any class, even nobles, even peasants.
Relatives of the bride carry a chest with a dowry to the groom's house during the wedding celebration in the village of Kubachi.
Dowry was considered a variety of things. For poorer families, these were household items: for example, bed linen, tablecloths, lace, handmade fabrics, dishes. The bride had to have everything that she could then have in the household, at least for the first time. The things were stored in a large wooden chest, which the girl brought to her husband's house after the wedding.
"The choice of a dowry", Vladimir Makovsky, 1898.
We started collecting dowries from childhood: at first, the girl's mother was engaged in this, and then the future bride herself. The girls themselves sewed clothes and kitchen textiles, competing in the skill of needlework, so that the dowry looked more advantageous than others.
It was not customary to hide the dowry — on the contrary, the family told potential suitors about their daughter's property. After the matchmaking, an inventory of the dowry was carried out, and on the wedding day, the bride's relatives had a tradition to ask for a ransom for this property.
"The choice of a dowry" by Nikolai Bekryashev.
The dowry of girls from noble families related to the imperial family was regulated by the legislation of the Russian Empire. According to the law of 1797, if the marriage is performed according to the will of the emperor, the girl receives a dowry from the state treasury, depending on the degree of kinship, from 100 thousand rubles (great-granddaughter) to a million (daughter).
In 1886, the emperor's distant relatives reduced the amount of the dowry to 30 thousand rubles, and after the wedding the girl received only half. The rest of the amount was kept in the bank, and she was paid an annual interest. To organize the dowry of the emperor's daughters and granddaughters, they could even arrange tenders among suppliers: porcelain, glass, furniture factories considered such orders very profitable for their reputation.
A shot from the "Cruel Romance", filmed based on the"Penniless".
Of course, they married without a dowry — however, they did not have to count on a profitable match. The playwright Alexander Ostrovsky has a play "Bespridannitsa" about a girl who is forced to get together with a person who is unpleasant to her, because the one who likes her has chosen a more well-off bride. As a result, her fiance kills her out of jealousy.
A resident of the Mari village of Malaya Tavra.
Grozny. The bride's dowry in her parents ' house.
But in the Caucasian republics, the dowry of brides is still collected - it is an integral part of any wedding. They do this, however, in a very modern way: in Chechnya and Dagestan there are special "dowry shops" where you can buy everything you need and immediately pack it in a nice chest.
It is believed that things should be enough for the first year. The list includes bed linen, clothing, shoes, jewelry, fur coat, bags, cosmetics, as well as a gift for a girl who will open the bride's chest.