Macuna - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The Macuna are divided into patrilineal and exogamous descent groups ( masa ; lit., "people"), called clans or sibs in the ethnographic literature. These are in turn categorically related to one another as elder/younger "brother people" or "brother-in-law people" (affines). Marriage is prohibited between clans classified as "brothers," but permitted and encouraged between those referring to one another as "brothers-in-law." The Macuna clans thus form two exogamous and intermarrying phratric sets. The clans of each phratrie set are hierarchically arranged in order of seniority, defined by the mythical birth order of the clan ancestors. Each clan is further symbolically associated with one of five specialist roles: chief, chanter or dancer, warrior, shaman, and servant. Today, however, this organizational scheme is purely conceptual; it portrays an ideal social order with no counterpart in present social practice. Each clan collectively owns a set of sacred instruments (trumpets and flutes), called yurupari in the ethnographic literature, which represent the clan ancestors. These instruments can be seen, handled, and played only by adult (initiated) men; women and children are prohibited from seeing them. The clan also "owns" a body of individual "spirit" names. A newborn child ideally receives the name of a deceased grandparent. Names are thus recycled within the clan in alternating generations.

Kinship Terminology. The Macuna have a two-line relationship terminology of the Dravidian type.


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