Batak - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. The Batak peoples have kinship systems similar to the Kachin of highland Burma. They have patrilineal clans, divided into localized lineages (often centered on ancestral houses and tombs). Lineages of different clans are linked together through asymmetrical marriage alliance—Lineage A will get its wives from Lineage B of another clan. Lineage B will thus serve as the politically and ritually superordinate alliance partner to A, showering it with fertility blessings, good luck, and supernatural protection. Lineage A in turn will give its daughters in a second direction to C, of still another clan. Lineage C will then become A's own subordinate alliance partner. Lineages of varying time-depths are the operative units in this marriage system. Today, many lineages have members in several villages as well as in migrant communities in the multiethnic cities. Clans are very large, never meet corporately, and in fact often straddle two ethnic subsocieties such as Toba and Angkola. Some Batak peoples imagine that all clans originated in a Toba ancestral home, and spread outward from there because of ancient clan wars. Much adat ceremonial activity is directed toward contacting lineage ancestors and securing their blessings.

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