Chuvans - Marriage and Family

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Marriage. Although the Russian (Orthodox) pattern of marriage and family was generally the dominant pattern and normally both men and women tended to marry in their early twenties, a significant portion of the community members avoided fixed marriage ties. Illegitimate births were rather common (10 to 30 percent), and unwed women and widows bore numerous offspring, fully approved by their extended families. Whole genealogical lines were recognized by their incidental biological progenitors or even under their matronymic names formed on the first name of the older matriarchs. No marriage restrictions are recorded, other than the standard Orthodox regulations (which were generally not respected in temporary affairs and unions). When planned, marriage was arranged through family envoys (Russian: svaty ) . The wedding ceremony followed the Russian Orthodox ritual, augmented by wide collecting and exchange of gifts, ceremonial shooting, and the special role of the bride's younger brother or of any adolescent male relative as a symbolic middleman in the bride's transfer to the groom through marriage.

Domestic Unit. According to records of the late 1800s, a household or a residential family had an average of 7 to 7.5 members and consisted of two or, more often, three generations. Both Russian and traditional Yukagir residence patterns, the former patrilocal, the latter matrilocal or at least bilocal, incorporated in-laws and distant consanguineal relatives from both sides as approved coresidents.

Inheritance. Patterns of inheritance were never specifically recorded. As among other Siberian creole groups, they were mainly patrilineal, particularly regarding hunting and fishing implements, hunting rights, camp sites, etc. Because of the lack of fixed patrilineal kin groups (except for tribute payment), mixed or even matrilineal inheritance was possible in the absence of close male relatives.

Socialization. Nuclear and extended families and the village community as a whole were the main channels for socialization and group identity. Although several authors reported tensions, sexual looseness, and low manners of the Russian creole communities, family relations were generally cordial and cooperative. Traces of traditional Yukagir patterns of intrafamily avoidance survived into the late nineteenth century, particularly between in-laws (father/daughter, father/son, brother/sister, etc.), between married brothers, and between parents and their married sons.


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