Moparuli – მოპარული


A boy snatched a girl from her house, and they are walking along the road together to her new home to be, hiding from the pursuing relatives. The girl is crying and crying and could not stop, so the boy asks her: «What is wrong?» And she says: «I don’t want to go with you and I don’t want to marry you!» «Than stop crying and go back, you are free!» – he tells her. «No. Let’s just go and keep crying together». (Anecdote)

Moparuli means stolen in Georgian. The tradition in Caucasus when a man steals a bride to get married is more than a hundred years old. There are three ways how a girl can get married in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus. Most of the times the unions are arranged by the relatives of one or both sides, sometimes a young couple elopes form an uncomprehending family, but there are many cases, when the girl is stolen without parental consent and without the consent of her own by an absolute stranger. This surprising tradition rests on old prejudices, according to which if a girl was at least touched by the hand, and not to mention the fact that she was stolen, her reputation is considered to be hopelessly lost, and she will probably never be able to marry. Gossips spread through the village immediately, so parents who wish only the best for their children, try to persuade the daughter to stay with the “thief”, so that she should still have a chance for her own family, kinds and decent future and would relieve her parents from the shame.

In early days they used to steal the brides on horseback, nowadays a few friends get together, wait when the girl is left alone and drag her into the car. They take away the future bride to a house far in the mountains and her there until she calms down. Than the boy talks her into the marriage, if it doesn’t work, he involves her parents, who are on the groom’s side, as they are worry for their daughter’s future. Legally, the girl can go to the police, but most women also think that no one will take them after this and they will remain unmarried for the rest of their lives, which is the worst punishment in the world. So most of the times they accept the proposal. Normally stolen brides don’t get to celebrate a wedding, it is related not only to the «MOPARULI» tradition. But is also the result of the Georgia’s last decade weak economy. Ten years ago, women were stolen at the age of 14-15 years and normally a year later they had their first child. Currently, this tradition slowly goes flat-out. People say that it is largely due to the emergence of schools in rural areas, boys and girls are beginning to understand that there is something wrong about stealing a wife. Yet, when a man does not want to be rejected or has a bad reputation, he prefers to steal the bride, at the risk of his freedom.

Story of Chito


I was 18 years old when he stole me. I didn’t even know my future husband and I have never seen him before. I was at the wedding, our relative introduced us, said that this is his friend and in an hour they stole me. How? He grabbed my hand and dragged me into the car. They took me to the house of his brother-in-law, not to his own home, but far away, so that they could get away and not get caught by steeling me. So that police to doesn’t catch them. I fended off as hard as I could, I didn’t want to go with them, it was terrible. Later, they called my brother and my brother accepted the offer. When they told me about it, I also agreed. What else could I do? You understand how it happens. It’s so embarrassing to get married after this. My family relies on me. When my brother gave his consent and it was no longer possible for me to escape, also you can’t go back. I was ashamed of what people would say. It’s their decision, you know? There was no wedding. When I was stolen, I lived for two months with my husband. Then we had a fight and I ran away home. Then the «old people» reconciled us and we lived together for another three years. After that we finally got divorced. I have a son Bondo, a big Bondo. From time to time men ask me to marry them, but I never have. I don’t want to, this would be unfair to my son. I raised him on my own. Now we live together, with his wife and we have a grandson in the way.

Story of Lali


Now I’m 21 years old, and when I was stolen I was 18. No, I did not know him. I was with my aunt, he came by in a car and took me. I resisted, I didn’t want to go anywhere with him. Then he called my family, they’ve agreed and that was it. There was no wedding. We have been together for three years, when our son Temo was born I was 19. Now everything is fine, now I already agree. Parents are also happy.

Story of Marina


When my husband stole me, I didn’t know him. I was 14 then. I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 16, she is now almost the same age I was, and my son is 12 years old. My husband haven’t met me at all before that day. His relatives walked into my house and took me to home on foot. I remember is was in winter and the snow was about two meters high. We walked 4 to 5 km from my house in Dunadzebi. He didn’t hide me anywhere, just took me. When I was stolen I didn’t fight back, but I did not want to get married. Well, nobody asked me anyway. You can not do this to young girls. First they need to grow up and only then get married.

Story of Dali


They stole me when I was 14, even before I was fourteen. I did not know my future husband. At that time I lived in Bagdanovka. It’s a Russian village near the boarder. Once he saw me at a local restaurant during the holidays. He came up to me at the restaurant. I resisted and even got a couple of bruises. But at the end I agreed. Agreed, because I was so young, still a child. He took me far away, high up to the mountains. We had no wedding. Now we have two children: a daughter and a son. I’m 26 years old now, and then I was so little and didn’t know anything. I don’t think this is a romantic tradition. Now there is civilization, but before there wasn’t.

Story of Theona


Stole me? He did. He saw me somehow in a village nearby. He was with his friends, I was alone in the street, he drove up in car. He said: “Come on, you will be with me, we will live together, we will live normally!”. And I agreed. Not right away, but later I agreed. I was 15 when I was stolen. We’ve lived together for ten years now and we have three children. Two daughters, and one man! (noted by the husband). My husband is now working in the police. We had a wedding, but not a big one, only for 150 people.

– Why did not you ask your parents? Why did you decide to steal a bride?

We have such a custom. We don’t want any fatherly or motherly consent. (Husband)

Story of Diana


I saw him before, I knew that he was from my village. But we had no connections. I was stolen at the age of 18. He took me first to the mountains, there we stayed for three days. Then he took me some someplace else, and only then he brought me home. His family sent relatives to negotiate with mine. I was actually promissed to another man, the wedding was appointed. I didn’t want to marry that guy, but my parents wanted and have already agreed on everything. My husband, the one who stole me, I didn’t want this to happen, but agreed in a day, because I liked him more than my first groom. We’ve been living together for ten years, we have two children, both boys. It’s just a tradition, most important is to have mutual understanding, it’s worse if the family breaks up.

Story of Makhuala


I was stolen for marriage. I didn’t know him before that day. On a small NIVA (a car) he took me straight to his home. I was 18 years old. I didn’t like him at all. We played a wedding in four months. In those times it was believed that if a man grabbed even a woman’s hand, then she was no longer decent, it was not good. These days if a woman doesn’t want, then it can lead to a war between families. I think it was romantic that I was stolen. But now, I wouldn’t want this to happen to my daughter anymore, and I keep a close eye on her and try to protect her.

Story of Neri


I was stolen at the age of 14. He was then 21 years old. I was still at school and I was not into any boy at the time. They stole me while I was visiting my relatives. I didn’t know my future husband at all. Yes, they just tumbled in, grabbed me and took with them. I ran away twice. But he always came for me and we would made up every time. My father didn’t like him much, that’s why we always were reconciled by my uncle. We didn’t have a big wedding, but celebraited with in a small family circle. I was 15 years old when our daughter was born. I have two boys and one girl. One lives in Batumi, my daughter got married and lives here in the village of Kedlebi. She works as a teacher, she teaches Georgian language. My son-in-law is a good man. I’ve been a housewife all my life. I have five brothers. They all studied, only my husband didn’t study, so he went to the army. My husband was very handsome. He is dead now. We’ve lived together for 53 years.

Story of Mziya

Mziya with her husband

I was 15 years old. And now I am 21. He saw me in the mountain village of Bako. First he talked to me, talked a little bit, and then stole me. At the time I was studing in Batumi, he took me away from there. I resisted, I was against it. He stopped by the car and pulled me in. There were five men and I could not deal with them. My father was against it and did not approve of his future husband, that’s why he stole me. I did not study or work anymore. We have two children, a boy and a girl. I did not want to gey married so young, but men are stronger and they hunted me down and forced me in the car.

Story of Leyla


When they stole me was 19 years old. We were not acquainted with him. He saw me in the village of Kedlebi, I lived there. He saw me at the wedding. Then he found out who I was and my family name. My husband says he stole me, as he was afraid he wouldn’t come to an agreement with my family and they wouldn’t give me up. That day he was in the car with some friends. I was in the neighborhood with my girlfriend. I resisted as best as I could. My husband took me to the town to his sister’s home. It took a long time to come to an agreement. My family gave up only after a month. My parents knew where I was, but they did not want me to be there with him. I agreed in a day, surrendered. We’ve been together for 16 years. We had no wedding. We have children. Three.

Story of Ulisa


I saw him before, I knew him from afar. I did not want to, but he stole me. I was 19 years old, I studied at school at the time. He followed me in a car. There were two people inside and one driver, three of them in total. I resisted a little, but that could I do. He took me to his home. On the second day I agreed and everything was fine. There was no wedding. When you have been stoled, it was not customary to play the wedding. Nobody knew that he wanted to steal me, I did not ask anyone for my hand or permission. We’ve lived together for 20 years, we have two children. I do not like this tradition, better to get married by agreement and not by force. If the bride is returned as a bad commodity it is a problem for the family. Therefore, parents try to reconcile the young people so that they are together.

Story of Aisha

Aisha and her husband

I was 15 when I was stolen. I lived in another place and I didn’t know the groom at all. He saw me during the Shuantoba holiday and he liked me. He called his friends and they came on horsebacks for me at night, when I was alone. They forced me and dragged me on a horse. I screamed, fought back, but no one heard me. When my relatives came to take me back, a big fight broke out, but no one was hurt in the end. My parents wanted to give me away for another man, they have given their word and could not break it. It used to be that if a girl was touched by simply a hand, then the guy was obliged to marry or it was a shame for the whole family and no one would later marry her. My relatives had to agree and negotiate. Now I have five children and fourteen grandchildren.

Story of Gulbayas


I was stolen at the age of 13. For two months we’ve lived high in the mountains until I calmed down and stopped resisting. My husband was 17-18 years old. When he was stealing me, my relatives defended me and even wounded him twice. My parents were against this union and didn’t want to give me for him. I knew him because he lived in a village near by. I did not want to get married, but my father made me to. I was also promised to another man, who had a great affection for me. They took me form my house barefoot in the middle of winter. Oh, how beautiful I was then, weighed 64 kilograms! Now I’m 92 years old. My husband has already died, we have lived together all our lives. My husband was a good man, we traveled around the USSR a lot with him!

Story of Dariko


I was it school back then. I was a little bit of consent. I was aware of his plans, but I just didn’t want to get married. I knew him, I saw him in the village. He came with his friends in a car and took me away. Brought me to his own home. I was 18 years old and we lived together for 39 years. We have two boys and one girl. The girl is already married. I’m satisfied!

From conversations behind the scenes

– Why are not you married?
– And why should I get married?
– You go and ask married women, you’ll see how happy they live!

«…» Not so long ago and less often these days, if a man likes you, he steals you, then people would start talking and nothing could be done. Sometimes, during the theft, relatives try to protect and save their children, they fight back and even use weapons, sometimes people get killed during such scuffles. It also happens that a man steals a bride and she is taken back to the family by the police. Now it is also illegal, under the law, to marry under the age of 18. It’s hard for you to believe, but later came love, and all the strongest families were build that way. No case of a divorce.

«…» Modern youth do no longer steal brides, now everyone gets acquainted on the Internet. Parents don’t intervene now. But it’s a pity that they choose a partner and get divorced in a year. And we used to live together and never divorce. Our parents would study the whole clan and looked into the illnesses in the family, evaluated the beauty and looked searched for the ideal candidate.

«…» If a woman is not married – this is bad, then she is sick or has problems. When they are young, they would choose and choose… But in the end they remain alone, because at the aпe of 30 nobody wants to marry them anymore.


2016, Georgia