Circassians - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. In the past, the basic kin units among the Circassians were the patrilineal extended family and a wider patrilineal descent group. In the Caucasus, each descent group tended to live in a separate hamlet. Emigration and settlement broke up these groups, and the new villages included many different descent groups but were often comprised of families of the same dialect group, which, in turn, represented their original region in the Caucasus. Nowadays, in places such as Jordan, descent groups are being organized in formal family associations.

Kinship Terminology. Circassian kinship terminology is extremely descriptive and distinguishes matriline from patriline for both consanguineal and affinal kin. The terms used for "father-in-law" and "mother-in-law" mean "Master" and "Lady," the same terms used to refer to members of the nobility, illustrating the strict hierarchical relations involved between in-laws. The new bride is traditionally given a new personal name upon becoming part of her husband's household and gives new names to all the members of this household, by which she henceforth calls them. Nowadays Arabic or Turkish kinship terms are increasingly replacing Circassian ones, some of them "Circassianized" through a particular pronunciation.

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