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Dowry

Dowry


A dowry is a type of payment or gift of property that accompanies a bride upon marriage. The custom has been most common in settled agricultural societies where it may form an important part of the financial arrangements for a marriage. The types of property included in a dowry vary tremendously depending on the economic circumstances of the families involved and the customary expectations of the society. A woman's dowry might include personal possessions (such as clothing and jewels), money, servants, or land. Societies vary in regarding a dowry as the property of the bride, her husband, or her husband's family. Where the custom exists, women frequently receive dowries in lieu of a right of inheritance from their father's estates (Goody and Tambiah 1973).

The custom of giving dowries may perform several positive functions. First, as with other common forms of marital exchange such as bride-wealth (also called bride-price), a dowry affirms an alliance between two families united by marriage. Second, a dowry may provide a bride with some protection against an abusive husband. Should she leave her husband, a woman's family may demand that all or part of her dowry be returned. Third, a young couple may use the dowry to set up their own household. Finally, a woman may need to rely upon her dowry for support should her husband die and she has no rights to inheritance. These are by no means universal functions. They are contingent on the ways that people conceive of the dowry and, especially, on whether the wife controls all or part of it.

Dowry often has a marked political dimension. In medieval Europe, noble families down on their fortunes often sought to marry their sons to women from rich families whose dowries would thus enhance their own financial situations. By the same token, a newly wealthy family could improve its social standing by using rich dowries to form marital alliances with those of a higher class. In northern India, marrying daughters upwards, using the enticement of dowries, has long provided one of the chief means for families to raise their status (by very small increments) within the rigidly hierarchical caste system, a process technically known as hypergamy. In general, the custom of dowry imposes a financial burden upon families with daughters that can be especially heavy when the family has few or no sons who might themselves attract wives with dowries.

Dowry had disappeared from most of Europe by the beginning of the twentieth century, but remains a common practice in south Asia. In India it has become a matter of some controversy and a subject for legal reform because of a large number of incidents in which women have been harassed and even murdered by their in-laws in attempts to extort richer dowries. Debate continues as to whether dowry deaths should be understood as a byproduct of the custom itself or as the result of modern conditions that have undermined the traditional connections between families brought together in marriage while inflating the cash value of dowries (Menski 1999).


See also:Bride-Price; Kinship; Marriage Ceremonies; Mate Selection; Wife


Bibliography

goody, j. and tambiah, s. j. (1973). bridewealth anddowry. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press.

menski, w., ed. (1999). south asians and the dowryproblem. stoke-on-trent, stratfordshire, uk: trentham books.


john barker

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"Dowry." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Dowry." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dowry

dowry

dowry (dou´rē), the property that a woman brings to her husband at the time of the marriage. The dowry apparently originated in the giving of a marriage gift by the family of the bridegroom to the bride and the bestowal of money upon the bride by her parents. It has been a well-established institution among the propertied classes of various lands and times, e.g., in ancient Greece and Rome, India, medieval Europe, and modern continental countries. Generally the husband has been compelled to return the dowry in case of divorce or the death of the wife when still childless. One purpose of the dowry was to provide support for the wife on the husband's death, and thus it was related remotely to the rights of dower. In civil-law countries the dowry is an important form of property. In England and the United States (except for Louisiana), the dowry system is not recognized as law.

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"dowry." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Dowry

Dowry

a portion given with a bride; a gift of nature or fortune; a lot, a great dealSlang Dictionary, 1874.

Example: dowry of parny [rain or water], 1874.

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dowry

dow·ry / ˈdou(ə)rē/ • n. (pl. -ries) property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.

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"dowry." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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dowry

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Fosbury •strawberry • Salisbury •crowberry, snowberry •chokeberry •Rosebery, Shrewsbury •blueberry, dewberry •Dewsbury • Bloomsbury • gooseberry •blubbery, rubbery, shrubbery •Sudbury • mulberry • huckleberry •Bunbury • husbandry • loganberry •Canterbury • Glastonbury •Burberry, turbary •hatchery • archery •lechery, treachery •stitchery, witchery •debauchery • butchery • camaraderie •cindery, tindery •industry • dromedary • lapidary •spidery • bindery • doddery •quandary • powdery • boundary •bouldery • embroidery •prudery, rudery •do-goodery • shuddery • thundery •prebendary • legendary • secondary •amphorae • wafery •midwifery, periphery •infantry • housewifery • spoofery •puffery • sulphury (US sulfury) •Calgary •beggary, Gregory •vagary •piggery, priggery, whiggery •brigandry • bigotry • allegory •vinegary • category • subcategory •hoggery, toggery •pettifoggery • demagoguery •roguery • sugary •buggery, skulduggery, snuggery, thuggery •Hungary • humbuggery •ironmongery • lingerie • 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promissory •janissary • necessary • derisory •glossary • responsory • sorcery •grocery • greengrocery •delusory, illusory •compulsory • vavasory • adversary •anniversary, bursary, cursory, mercery, nursery •haberdashery •evidentiary, penitentiary, plenipotentiary, residentiary •beneficiary, fishery, judiciary •noshery • gaucherie • fiduciary •luxury • tertiary •battery, cattery, chattery, flattery, tattery •factory, manufactory, olfactory, phylactery, refractory, satisfactory •artery, martyry, Tartary •mastery, plastery •directory, ex-directory, interjectory, rectory, refectory, trajectory •peremptory •alimentary, complementary, complimentary, documentary, elementary, parliamentary, rudimentary, sedimentary, supplementary, testamentary •investigatory •adulatory, aleatory, approbatory, celebratory, clarificatory, classificatory, commendatory, congratulatory, consecratory, denigratory, elevatory, gyratory, incantatory, incubatory, intimidatory, modificatory, participatory, placatory, pulsatory, purificatory, reificatory, revelatory, rotatory •natatory • elucidatory • castigatory •mitigatory • justificatory •imprecatory • equivocatory •flagellatory • execratory • innovatory •eatery, excretory •glittery, jittery, skittery, twittery •benedictory, contradictory, maledictory, valedictory, victory •printery, splintery •consistory, history, mystery •presbytery •inhibitory, prohibitory •hereditary • auditory • budgetary •military, paramilitary •solitary • cemetery • limitary •vomitory • dormitory • fumitory •interplanetary, planetary, sanitary •primogenitary • dignitary •admonitory, monitory •unitary • monetary • territory •secretary • undersecretary •plebiscitary • repository • baptistery •transitory •depositary, depository, expository, suppository •niterie •Godwottery, lottery, pottery, tottery •bottomry • watery • psaltery •coterie, notary, protonotary, rotary, votary •upholstery •bijouterie, charcuterie, circumlocutory •persecutory • statutory • salutary •executory •contributory, retributory, tributary •interlocutory •buttery, fluttery •introductory • adultery • effrontery •perfunctory • blustery • mediatory •retaliatory • conciliatory • expiatory •denunciatory, renunciatory •appreciatory, depreciatory •initiatory, propitiatory •dietary, proprietary •extenuatory •mandatary, mandatory •predatory • sedentary • laudatory •prefatory • offertory • negatory •obligatory •derogatory, interrogatory, supererogatory •nugatory •expurgatory, objurgatory, purgatory •precatory •explicatory, indicatory, vindicatory •confiscatory, piscatory •dedicatory • judicatory •qualificatory • pacificatory •supplicatory •communicatory, excommunicatory •masticatory • prognosticatory •invocatory • obfuscatory •revocatory • charlatanry •depilatory, dilatory, oscillatory •assimilatory • consolatory •voluntary • emasculatory •ejaculatory •ambulatory, circumambulatory, perambulatory •regulatory •articulatory, gesticulatory •manipulatory • copulatory •expostulatory • circulatory •amatory, declamatory, defamatory, exclamatory, inflammatory, proclamatory •crematory • segmentary •lachrymatory •commentary, promontory •informatory, reformatory •momentary •affirmatory, confirmatory •explanatory • damnatory •condemnatory •cosignatory, signatory •combinatory •discriminatory, eliminatory, incriminatory, recriminatory •comminatory • exterminatory •hallucinatory • procrastinatory •monastery • repertory •emancipatory • anticipatory •exculpatory, inculpatory •declaratory, preparatory •respiratory • perspiratory •vibratory •migratory, transmigratory •exploratory, laboratory, oratory •inauguratory • adjuratory •corroboratory • reverberatory •refrigeratory • compensatory •desultory • dysentery •exhortatory, hortatory •salutatory • gustatory • lavatory •inventory •conservatory, observatory •improvisatory •accusatory, excusatory •lathery •feathery, heathery, leathery •dithery, slithery •carvery •reverie, severy •Avery, bravery, knavery, quavery, Savery, savory, savoury, slavery, wavery •thievery •livery, quivery, shivery •silvery •ivory, salivary •ovary •discovery, recovery •servery • equerry • reliquary •antiquary • cassowary • stipendiary •colliery • pecuniary • chinoiserie •misery • wizardry • citizenry •advisory, provisory, revisory, supervisory •causerie, rosary

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