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Stolen Bride

Stolen Bride

© Jackie Dewe Mathews. October 2009. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Bekbosun and Bubakan on their 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by their family. Bubakan was kidnapped by Bekbosun on horseback on his 20th birthday as part of the Kyrgyz tradition of bride stealing. The practice of bride kidnapping, ‘ala kachuu’ was outlawed during the Soviet era and remains illegal under the Kyrgyz criminal code although kidnappers are rarely prosecuted.  Since the Kyrgyz declaration of independence in 1991 incidents of ala kachuu have surged. Ala Kachuu has its roots in nomadic Kyrgyz traditions and today is seen as part of a national identity that was denied by Soviet rule. To see more of Jackie Dewe Mathews work click here.

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  1. One might point out that “bride stealing” in modern central Asian tribes has a similar staged/symbolic nature to the Western tradition of the father “giving his daughter away.”

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