Suku - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Traditionally, about a fifth of married men were polygynous. Postmarital residence is virilocal. Traditional marriage involves a transfer of rights from a woman's lineage to the groom's, in exchange for money and a sacrificial goat. Included are rights of sexual possession and exclusion; rights to her domestic and agricultural labor; and eventually, rights to a son's lifetime assistance and to a portion of a daughter's bride-wealth as compensation for rearing her. Lineage filiation rights remain with the wife's lineage. Divorce (which is not infrequent) and a wife's death reverse these transfers, but the amount of returned bride-wealth is discounted for each child and the length of the wife's services. No reimbursement is due if the widow remarries within the husband's lineage. A slight preference is expressed for a man to marry his father's sister's daughter.

Domestic Unit. Newlyweds set up in a separate compound near the man's father. In terms of lineage affiliation (and therefore economic, jural, and ritual interests), the domestic unit is divided between the husband and the wife-and-herchildren cluster. Polygyny simply adds more such independent clusters to the compound.

Inheritance. The property-owning unit being the matrilineage, all the wealth of a deceased person reverts to his or her lineage's control, being effectively allocated to its elders. The one exception is the inheritance by the sons of the father's hunting paraphernalia. Since the mid-twentieth century, there has been a tendency to expand the portion of goods inherited by sons.

Socialization. Personhood is achieved a few weeks after birth at a coming-out and naming ceremony. Breast-feeding, eventually supplemented with food, lasts until the age of 2 or 3, during which there is a taboo on sexual intercourse. Children continually experience casual close body contact with adults and other children. Boys are left very free until late adolescence, learning routine skills by participation and imitation; by contrast, girls from an early age are an indispensable part of the household's labor force. Groups of adolescent boys are taken into adulthood through circumcision rites, lasting for weeks and involving the acquisition of new adult names. No comparable rites of passage exist for girls. All these patterns have had to accommodate to the ever-growing presence of schools from the 1930s on.

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