Tandroy - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Ancestry is very important to the Tandroy. Scholars have distinguished three types of group: named clans ( firazana, kopabe ), whose numerical strength and territorial importance vary considerably but whose members (between 100 and 10,000 in each clan) claim a common origin and share transhumant pasture and cattle earmarks; the patrilineage ( famosora ), which may or may not have a residential component but whose several hundred members share a known ancestor and a sacrificial cult; and the sublineage ( tarira, tarike ), which, either as a hamlet or a village quarter, is the localized residential group, whose members, under the authority of an elder, are close kin who share cattle pens. The divisions at each level are normally ranked. All authors stress the importance of agnation in the composition of these groups; patrilateral parallel-cousin marriage ensures that the children of female agnates are often group members. Matrilateral kinship also involves extensive ties. The mother's brother/sister's son relationship is particularly important. Among some groups, it is the idiom in which relationships between dominant and vassal groups are expressed.

Kinship Terminology. Tandroy terms reflect the importance that is attached to both lineality and generation as indicators of either hierarchical or equivalent status. How they are used is determined partly by the political context.

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