Friday 22 November 2019


In the village Postenje, in Azbukovica, highland area in western Serbia, women used to wear a ring for every son they had. Each son had his own finger with a single ring on it. 

If one of her sons died, she would put the ring on the finger of one of her still living sons...If the woman then had another son, she would leave the dead son's ring where it was, and would put a new ring on an empty finger for her new son...

When an old woman died, she was buried with all her rings. But if a young woman died, all her "son" rings were taken off her fingers before her burial...

The rings are kept by the dead woman's husband until he finds a new bride that he wants to marry. Then a very interesting ritual is performed with them...

The a new bride is chosen, "widows from the village" take the dead woman's "son rings", chose one, and "cary it around the bride". After that they give it to the dead woman's husband to look at his new bride through it. This seals their future marriage...

Does anyone know of any similar custom? It is absolutely fascinating. The ethnographer that recorded it in 1921 thought that this custom was once widespread...

From the "Journal of the Ethnographic museum in Belgrade, book 1", published in 1926. Link here, Serbian, Cyrilic


  1. Reminded me of the Yeats poem in which magical looking-though and marriage coincide differently.

    The Collar-bone of a Hare

    WOULD I could cast a sail on the water
    Where many a king has gone
    And many a king’s daughter,
    And alight at the comely trees and the lawn,
    The playing upon pipes and the dancing,
    And learn that the best thing is
    To change my loves while dancing
    And pay but a kiss for a kiss.

    I would find by the edge of that water
    The collar-bone of a hare
    Worn thin by the lapping of water,
    And pierce it through with a gimlet and stare
    At the old bitter world where they marry in churches,
    And laugh over the untroubled water
    At all who marry in churches,
    Through the white thin bone of a hare.