A dowry involves property or money that is provided by a wife or her family to her husband when they wed. Historically, a dowry often included large sums of money, particularly if royalty was involved. For example, one of the most lavish dowries recorded was a whopping 200,000 escudos, when Catherine of Aragon married Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, in 1501. However, not all dowries are alike.
There have been many weird dowries mixed in with the traditional offerings from a blushing bride to a groom. While most people would prefer cash or property from their fiancée, how would you feel if your bride guaranteed a larger following on your social media pages? Or what if she promised to give you the latest and greatest smartphone? These are just some of the odd things people have given or requested as part of their dowries.
A Fertility Exam
Before she could marry Prince Rainier, Grace Kelly had to be examined to ensure that she was fertile and could carry on the royal line. The actress willingly underwent the medical exam, which included inspection of her fallopian tubes and uterine area to make sure everything was healthy and in working order. The doctors also focused on her ovulation and menstruation. Kelly was reportedly less concerned about the actual medical exam and more worried about the disclosure that she wasn't a virgin.
A tribe of people known as the Dayak reside on the Indonesian island of Borneo. Historically, the tribesmen were headhunters and cannibals, and the practice crossed over into their marriage rituals. For example, if a man wanted to marry a woman, he would need to bring him the skulls of two or three enemies. The tribe no longer subscribes to these practices. A Dayak wedding in 2014 consisted of a two-day ceremony in which the blood of pigs and chickens was sprinkled around to ward off evil spirits.
Beer, Beef, & Gatorade
In 2009, police arrested a California man who arranged a marriage between his 14-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old neighbor. Marcelino de Jesus Martinez required a dowry of $16,000 for his daughter, as well as 100 cases of Corona beer, 50 cases of Modelo, six bottles of wine, 50 cases of soda, 50 cases of Gatorade, and some meat (which was to be served at the wedding).
When Martinez didn't receive payment, he contacted authorities to help secure the dowry. However, he was arrested and charged with "procuring a child under age 16 for lewd and lascivious acts, statutory rape and cruelty to a child by endangering health." The man is a member of the indigenous Mexican Trique community, in which arranged marriages are common.
In 2014, a man from Saudi Arabia wanted the newest iPhone as part of his sister's dowry. The marriage was not allow to proceed until the smartphone, an iPhone 6, was presented as a gift. At the time, the phone was not available in Saudi Arabia. Dowries are common in Arab countries. While they tend to include simple gifts, some families seek pricey presents and large amounts of cash.