Bugle - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Monogamy is the most common form of marriage, although polygyny is permitted and does sometimes occur. The low incidence of polygyny was attributed by the Bugle to a shortage of women. Intermarriage has occurred with the Ngawbe, usually between Ngawbe women and Bugle men—again, supposedly because of a shortage of Bugle women. In remote areas it is reported that there are many families of Bugle with no history of intermarriage with other groups. There is no formal marriage ceremony, and none was remembered by the elderly people who were interviewed by Herrera and González in 1964. Women often marry at the age of 12 or 13, whereas young men often must remain unmarried for several additional years. Marriage is by common agreement between a man and a woman. Women may accept or refuse offers of marriage. The custom of parents giving a prepubescent girl to her future husband to be raised by his family was said by the Bugle in 1964 to be no longer practiced, although Herrera and González documented two cases in their brief ethnographic survey (75). Herrera and González also report several instances of cousin marriage, but they note that their Bugle guide and chief informant considered such marriages to be immoral (76). Residence after marriage may be neolocal or patrilocali the choice seems to depend on whether the young couple is prepared to be economically independent of the man's family.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the most common unit of production and consumption, but extended-family households occur and may have been more common in the past. Fathers have traditionally exercised authority over their married sons, especially under conditions of patrilocal residence.

Inheritance. Some personal items are buried with their owner. A house in which a person dies is abandoned. Nordenskiöld reported that all of the personal belongings that are not buried with the deceased are abandoned, along with the house. Use rights to land are inherited by both men and women.

Socialization. Young children are allowed to run freely through the house and are treated with considerable tolerance. Their play mimics adult activities of the appropriate sex. Children of both sexes begin to learn early by observation and by assisting their parents in the tasks for which they will be responsible as adults. A puberty ceremony for a girl at her first menses signals her transition to adulthood and her eligibility for marriage. No puberty ceremony is reported for males. It is reported that school attendance is enthusiastic wherever schools have been established and that formal education has become highly valued among the Bugle.


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