The Craziest Dowries and Bride Prices in the World

Some cultures in the world view marriages as transactions and as is common with most transactions, transfers or payments need to be made. When it comes to marriage payments, they usually come in two forms: dowries – payments made by a bride to her groom and his family, and bride price – payments that prospective grooms make to the bride and her family. These practices aren’t common in western cultures and while people have different views on the subject, it is still popular in some parts of the world. While most payments come in the form of livestock or money, there have been some strange requests. Let’s read about them.

1. The Bride’s Weight in Shillings

John Hull is the man who created the first Massachusetts mint and was also charged with running it. While there, he made the silver pine shilling, an invention that he was particularly proud of. When a man called Samuel Sewall asked to marry his daughter, Hull gave Sewall permission to do so, as long as he could pay him his daughter’s weight in pine tree shillings. Her weight was never reported but sources claim that it was approximately 100 pounds. In Hull’s time, those 100 pounds of shillings was roughly equivalent to $1,600, a bargain, as some would say. 

2. One Million Facebook Likes

Salem Ayash, a poet from Yemen and a relatively popular internet star in his country came up with an odd way to have his prospective son-in-law prove his worth as a potential husband to his daughter. Rather than ask for money, as was typical for a bride price, he wanted the man to show his resourcefulness and test if he would be able to provide for his daughter. Additionally, he was not pleased with the way that bride prices were becoming more and more extravagant. He told the man that he needed to accumulate 1 million likes on a Facebook page of their engagement, with no time limit. It is unclear if he was ever able to complete the task. 

3. Part of France

Eleanor of Aquitaine was an extremely powerful woman in 12th century Europe. Not only was she the queen consort of France, but she also became the queen consort of England. Her guardian Louis VI made her marry his son and as a dowry, she gave him the duchy of Aquitaine – a realm of southwestern France. 15 years go by when her marriage to Louis VII is annulled and in exchange for keeping her lands, she allowed the king to keep their children. 8 weeks later, she marries Henry II of England and brings him the same land as her dowry.  

4. A Qing Dynasty Sculpture

The Jadeite Cabbage is a sculpture of a piece of Chinese cabbage that was carved from jadeite. Historians estimate that it was created during the 19th century and that it was given as a dowry for Consort Jin. The white body of the cabbage is meant to symbolize her purity and the two insects, one a katydid and the other a locust were added to give the couple good luck so that they would have many children. Its worth is unknown, but it is currently housed at the Taiwan National Palace Museum where it is the most popular artifact on display. 

5. $156 million

Chinese billionaire Wu Ruibiao made an outlandish move when he gifted his daughter a dowry of $156.37 million when she got married in 2012. The dowry included a number of items including a Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, 4 boxes of gold and five million shares in Wu’s multimillion dollar company, Wanli. The unnamed bride married her childhood sweetheart in an eight-day long series of festivities that was no doubt covered by her father. Newspapers across the country covered the wedding with one of them saying that marrying a woman from Jinjiang (a wealthy Chinese area) was “better than robbing a bank”. During that time, the billionaires in the city were in a race to see who could give the largest dowries.

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