…excerpt from doctoral paper number one:
I contend that societies go through closing and opening cycles, not unlike a lock, where an entire society goes through progressive changes either tending to the repressive – thus, closing – or the progressive, becoming more open in its cultural attitudes.
Not only in the laws, where there are increasing numbers of laws and rules, but also an increase in the severity of punishment for breaking those rules, but in entire cultural attitudes. In other words, a closing society becomes more rigid and harsh.
In a closing society there is a general trend toward a more rigid and frightening Mahid, while in an opening society that particular sub-class of Aitzas concentrates more upon the achievement of perfection of a sort, and it becomes a valuable reward rather than a horrific punishment to be married in to that clan.
The Imperator, in the historical record, is often a clear sign of whether Arko is entering a closing or opening phase. Appellant names bestowed show that people clearly see this, at least in hindsight. ‘The Great’, ‘The Feckless’, ‘The Frugal’, ‘The Rigid’… people in our current times are beginning to refer to Sixteenth Kurkas as ‘The Baby’…
I was lucky in that I found a hand-written sheet tucked into one of the thick, heavy, etiquette books, apparently cribbed by someone else who wanted the basics for how to be a good bemas. I inwardly blessed the long dead man who had wanted crib notes for a wedding.
I’d done the right thing by organizing the men’s party which would be two days from now… the women supposedly had a party as well but that was to be organized by the bride’s bema so I didn’t have to worry about it.
. see that the rings and appropriate locks are delivered to the jeweler
. keep custody of the finished rings until the appropriate moment of the ceremony
There were ancient things like seeing that the groom’s men’s arms were in good repair and well presented, and that their horses should have been properly groomed. I didn’t think there would be a lot of horses in the small Marble Palace Temple.
. have custody of the ring box so that no one could tamper with it
That was obvious since it was seen as a funny wedding joke to have the side of the box fall open at the right moment and let everyone see the groom’s hand clasping the bride’s hand, putting the ring on her finger, or her putting the ring on his finger -- symbolic of the wedding night.
. organize the wedding feast
. see that the horses or the carriage the new-wedded couple leave in is only minorly tampered with
. discourage a shiffarias… -- that, I could see. I’d want to kill someone who howled under my wedding night bedroom with pots and pans and noise makers and drums…though of course there was always some of that but mostly for first marriages.
It was up to the bride’s bema to display the couple’s bloody sheets next morning… though not for a second marriage... thank the Gods. Since this was a second wedding for both Ailadas and Trathila I did not have to have custody of the wedding knife and the betrothal box. No wonder a bemas’s coat was designed with a multiplicity of internal pockets! He had to normally carry everything, presumably because the groom was either too hung over from the night before party… oh, that was aside from the men’s party, a more intimate affair… or too freaked out with the whole wedding thing to actually think.
A note on the bottom of this crib-note sheet said “… remember to grab him over the elbow and steer him into place… he missed his mark eight times in a row last rehearsal…”
I had to smile at that ancient groom who could not think… I’d be that out of it I was certain. The officiating priest had things to carry, the bride’s bema and her ladies had things to carry… including the layers and layers and layers of cloth over the bride.
I’d seen the outside layers of an Arkan wedding dress before. I’d never realized there were ten in all, the inner one dark red… only the groom saw that one. The outside was white with red gems, red lace. Each layer in was more and more red. The veil was either white or silver to honour Selinae, if the caste of the bride and the pockets of her father allowed. In this case I was responsible for the payment of two veils, the outer one white for Dimae, the inner one silver for Selinae, since Trathila was changing caste and marrying up.
It was very strange that the bemas should be buying the outer protection for the bride, I thought. Oddest of all was the gate in the temple that the couple would pass through, once they were first married. It gave me the shivers because it looked frighteningly like the Lock.
Which was still untouched, in its place in the Marble Palace, but turned into a storage closet that sealed delicates away from air and moths.
The Wedding Gate was usually painted like metal, but in the Marble Palace it was actual metal, with the central door and locking wheel in the centre. The newly married waited on the other side… even if the gate stood with no walls on either side but ranks and ranks of flowers… and the officiant priest opened it for them to walk through together.
I was tremendously relieved. I knew I’d ask Riala or Skala to design the head-to-toe veils. I had a thought for what I could give them for a good wedding present… a library. I would endow a library. They’d both like that. A public building and I planned to have one built onto their house on Bright Street, symbolic of that public one.
All the rest I could handle. It would just take some rehearsal. I should ask Kyriala about some of the details. She’d be able to advise me what was most correct, most appropriate. She had an eye for such things.